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Othello Castle

Otello Castle

History of the castle

Othello CastleOthello Castle is located in the heart of Famagusta, and is a part of the fortress wall surrounding the port.

Henry I de Lucian,the king of Cyprus, began building the castle in Famagusta at the beginning of the 13th century by creating the first tower to protect the port. Finally the castle was built, and for greater reliability was surrounded by a moat in 1310, making it an impregnable fortress not only from the sea but also from the land.

The castle, along with the city walls, was expanded and rebuilt after the arrival of the Venetians and became an artillery base. According to some accounts, Leonardo da Vinci attended in the reconstruction of the fortress of Famagusta when he visited in 1481.

Despite this, the castle was named Othello, and not after Leonardo da Vinci.

Interesting Facts

Shakespeare in Cyprus

Othello CastleOf course Shakespeare never visited Cyprus and its cities, but before he could get to the story of Sir Christopher Moreau, the Venetian governor of Cyprus whose name is translated as “the Moor, meaning dark skinned” , his young wife died during the voyage on the way to the island. Although Sir Christopher was not dark skinned, his surname is believed to be the reason Shakespeare changed the race of the protagonist.

An alternative prototype personality for Othello could also be a Venetian officer, Francesca de Sessa, who served in Cyprus. Due to his dark skin he was known as “Il Moro”, and in 1544 was imprisoned for an unknown crime.

No matter what the true story was, the famous tragedy by William Shakespeare which takes place in Cyprus, attracts many tourists to the medieval castle in Famagusta.

Sea Gate (Porta Del Mare), North Cyprus

The fort in Famagusta functions as protection of the marine gate. Before the tragic events of 1974, cruise ships stopped in the port of Famagusta and guests were welcomed by the spectacular sight of the Tower of Othello.

Nowadays the sea gates are only open for commercial ships, and visitors can enter the fort through the Famagusta Gate, with its bas-relief Venetian lion.

Hidden Treasure in the Othello Tower

Othello CastleThe castle consists of four towers, connected by interior corridors and used by the military for the rapid deployment of reinforcements from tower to tower. These buildings have survived to this day.

From the north-east tower you can catch a glimpse of the industrial port and ventilation shafts which lead to the lower aisles.

The Venetians walled up most of the mines to prevent cannon balls falling onto the castle, but even today there are rumours of unexplored areas underground containing treasure left by the Venetians when the Ottomans took control.

Many excavations have taken place in the castle of Othello, but no treasure has yet been found!

The use of the castle today

Othello CastleThe main attraction of the castle of Famagusta, in so-called Northern Cyprus, is the Othello Tower, which served as headquarters of the defense during the siege of the fortress.

Above the entrance is a bas-relief with the symbol of Venice, the Lion of St. Mark, with the name of the master who rebuilt the castle, Nicolo Foscari.

The length of the fortress walls is about 3.6 km, with a height of 15-17 m and thickness of 5-6 m. The Tower of Othello has one of the best panoramic views of the city, overlooking the seaport.

Today the castle is the Othello museum.

Adjacent to the castle courtyard, to the north and south, you can see the old Spanish and Turkish guns, as well as their stone and iron shells, some of which are almost 400 years old.

The cost of entry to the museum is 7 New Turkish Lira. The Othello Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday. Monday – closed.

How to get to the castle

You can reach Othello Castle by car. We offer trips from Larnaca, Ayia Napa and Protaras – details can be found in our article on the trip to Famagusta.

After passing the checkpoint, you must continue straight ahead until the roundabout. Continue straight over and then turn left (under the arch of the old city) at the T-junction. Free parking is 350-400 m.

Standing with your back to the parking lot, right in front of you is the view of one of the bastions. To the left of the bastion is Othello Castle.

 

 

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