The Castle of Larnaca is a fort marked by various cultures in the heart of Larnaca’s historic centre.
The Medieval Castle of Larnaca is situated on the southern edge of the coastal avenue in the centre of Larnaca. The inscription on the entrance of the building reveals that this is an Ottoman construction that dates back to 1625 A.C. However, the castle was originally built in the end of 14th century A.C. by the Lusignan King James I (1382-1398). It was part of a series of defence constructions that took place in order to watch and protect the south-eastern side of the island. The initial form of the castle is unknown, but some parts of the medieval style remained into the Ottoman construction and are visible on the south and east wings of the castle. Based on historical evidence, prior to the castle, a fortification was built there in the 11th century during the Byzantine period under the Komnenos Dynasty.
During the Venetian rule in Cyprus, the construction upgraded at the same period when the harbour of Larnaca developed thanks to salt exportation and other frequent trading activities between Cyprus, the Syrian-Palestinian coast and the West. The castle had an important role in 1570, until when Venetians demolished it so as not to fall into the control of the Turks. At the same year, all the castles that could not be used for defence were demolished. Finally, the Ottomans landed near the castle of Larnaca and made the harbour of Larnaca the base of their naval fleet. The castle was reconstructed in 1625 by the Ottomans, after it was in a semi-ruined state and yet still guarded by the generals. By the mid-18th century, Larnaca's castle was only used for casting of salute shots to the passing ships. Throughout the British rule until the mid of the 20th century, the castle served as a prison and police station. Also, in the western room of the basement, the British installed gallows to execute prisoners. From 1948 till 1969, the castle was converted into the Larnaca District Museum.
On main building’s entrance that dates back to the Ottoman rule, a small museum is housed in three rooms. The museum includes antiquities from the Early Christian period, medieval pottery from the Byzantine and Islamic era, metal utensils, weapons, helmets and swards. Photographs are also on display of Early Christian, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine monuments of Cyprus, of Byzantine Cypriot art, of medieval fortifications and of medieval architecture found in Cyprus. At the eastern end of the third room, there is an Ottoman onta (seating area) with the relevant furnishing.
On the castle courtyard, there are two medieval capitals of which one of them has well-preserved figures of Latin monks on all four sides. An important exhibit is the coat of arms of the great medieval family of De Nores that is on display on the right wing. The castle courtyard is now used as a venue for cultural events.
You can visit the castle from Monday-Friday, 08:00 – 17:00, and Saturday-Sunday, 09:30-17:00 during the period between 16/9-15/4, and Monday-Friday, 08:00 – 19:30, and Saturday-Sunday, 09:30-17:00 on the period between 16/4-15/9.