“There were two very strong castles on the sea, whose walls were always washed by the waves”(from chronicles by Stephen de Lusignan, 1580)
The Pafos Medieval Fort is located at the west end of the harbour. Its impressive rectangular shape and symmetrical small size, makes the predominate picture of scenic harbour of Pafos. It has only one entrance on its east side and very small windows. Its main part is a big square tower that has an enclosed courtyard in the middle.
Some historians and annalists claim that the fort dates further back to the Byzantine period. It was destroyed in the earthquake of 1222 that loss the Franks built a replacement on the ancient mole at the west end of the harbour, where an earlier sea-tower may have existed. The new fort consisted of two towers connected by a curtain wall.
In 1373, the fort was captured by a raiding force of Genoese, and they held it for a year, successfully repulsing two separate assaults led by the Lusignan Prince of Antioch and James, Constable of Cyprus respectively. It was relinquished only when the Genoese had acquired Famagusta by treaty.
In 1391, James had the towers restored: now King James I, he was an indefatigable builder of defences against the Genoese. Seventy years later, the fort was involved in the contention between James II and Charlotte, his half-sister, for the Throne. 1473 saw the first Venetians in command as part of a universal show of strength in support of Queen Katerina. It was probably when the old small Frankish keep was enclosed in an outer Venetian wall.
At the time of the Turkish invasion the two towers of the Frankish fort were destroyed with explosives by the Venetians in 1570, who found themselves unable to defend it against the Ottomans. Between 1580 and 1592 the Turks reconstructed the main tower, leaving the seaward tower in its ruined state. The plaque over the entrance ascribes the construction of the fort to the Turkish governor of Cyprus in 1592, Ahmed Bey.
According to a Turkish inscription placed above the entrance the Ottomans once again rebuilt the fort in 1780. There are a number of steps opposite the main entrance leading to the roof of the fort, with three rooms in it. the central room functioned as a mosque while the other ones housed the garrison during Ottoman’s rule. On the ground floor is a central hall, partly covered with stone vaulting. Rooms on each side lead to prison cells beyond which are small courtyards; and underneath is a basement containing two dungeons. The rooms on the upper floor were originally connected in pairs by a wooden bridge and stair. The position of the bridge is easily to discern. Two openings on the floor linking the underground prison cells represent a commonplace feature of medieval period and are also easy to recognize.
At that time there were eight cannons. Steps lead to the roof, from which a good all-round view may be enjoyed.
At present, eastwards off the fort, in a short distance, the remains of an old construction, which probably formed part of the whole fortification, are possible to recognize. As assumed, there were two towers included in the fort linked by a wall. The tower that remains until today is a part of the western tower, while the smaller pieces on the sea wall represent the ruins of the eastern tower.
The British used the fort as a salt store until 1935, when it was designated an ancient monument.