Kantaras castle is one of the three most important castles on the Pentadaktylos mountain range. It’s built upon the most eastern peaks of Pentadaktylos providing a stunning 360 view of the whole Cyprus island. Specifically, there are the vantage points of the northern coasts of Cyprus, Karpasia and the rest of the mountain range, towards the bay of Famagusta and finally the Mesaoria plains. The name of the castle derives from the Arabic word “Kandar”, which means steep rock
Along with the other two castles of Pentadaktylos, that of Saint Ilarionas and the Voufavento, the Kantaras castle was built during the 11th and 12th century, by the Byzantines, with the goal of protecting the island from raids. The first mention of the castle was during the occupation of it by Richard the Lionheart, the King of England. To this specific castle Isaakios Komninos, the ruler of Cyprus at that time finds refuge after his defeat from Richard the Lionheart, while after some time he surrenders to him at this exact location. This castle was the center of many conflicts, like the one between the German Emperor Federico II and the supporters of the King of Cyprus, Henry I. Also, during the invasion of the Genovese, in 14th century, and while the Genovese occupied both Famagusta and Nicosia, the Kantaras Castle stood to its glory against them while the defenders were under the ruling of Peter I. While the Genovese were occupying Famagusta, the castle was a valuable observatory and stronghold for the Cypriots. This castle along with the other two of Pentadaktylos mountain range, were destroyed by the Venetians on the beginning of the 16th century, due to the inability of the Venetians to man the Castles because of limited man power and to the fact that they were afraid of the castles to end up in the hands of their enemies.
The castle is built in multiple levels and it consists of three sections, the small bastion on the eastern side that protects and surrounds the main entrance, the building complex along the eastern and south-eastern section of the wall and the building complex on the west, where the peak tower is. The peak tower is 2000 feet above sea level, and the remaining wall with its window provide a spectacular view. Most of the buildings were salvaged during the Francs ruling but even some remains of the Byzantine period exist.
Kantaras castle along with the other two castles of Pentadaktylos can evoke ow to the visitor. They look like that were planted over the ridges of the Mountain. This ow can be far greater when you take into account of the rich history and myths that are based on the castles, that along with all their history, they are an unbreakable part of the long-lived Cypriot culture.