The land at Kolossi was phenomenally valuable and produced cotton, wheat, sugar and excellent wines. The development and promotion of wines was actively encouraged by the Hospitallers, and the renowned sweet local red, Commandaria, was produced, taking its name from the Kolossi headquarters.
Military actions over the centuries caused a great deal of damage to the Kolossi castle, making significant renovation work necessary in 1454. Louis de Magnac, the Grand Commander who held the fief during this period, is attributed with the construction of the castle seen today. The coat of arms visible on the castle’s eastern wall is thought to be his.
The castle was built on three levels and is preserved in very good condition. The ground level of the building, which was probably used for storage, is divided into three separate rooms, two of which have water cisterns. The first storey is divided into two large chambers. One, which boasts a large fireplace and was probably the kitchen, also features a large painting depicting the Crucifixion.
Entrance to the first storey is now by a staircase and drawbridge which is not original and was constructed during renovation work in 1933. Access to the upper floors is by a circular stone staircase in the corner of the building. The second storey would have been the residence of the Grand Commander. Consisting of two large rooms each with a large, ornate fireplace, the rooms are well lit and one even features what would have been used as a toilet. The holes in the walls of the upper chamber indicate that a false wooden floor would have been installed in these rooms, probably to provide storage space in an attic. The windows in the room provide impressive views and stone seating.
From the second storey, the staircase leads up to the roof, which has restored battlements on each of its four sides. The rooftop provides spectacular views over the surrounding countryside and it is easy to imagine soldiers lined up over the scalding ready to defend their castle by tipping the contents of a boiling cauldron onto the attackers below.
From the roof of the castle, one can see the ruins of the old sugar cane mill and sugar factory near by. Sugar cane plantations were vitally important to the wealth of Cyprus until the 16th century and large areas were given over to their development. While Cyprus sugar was sold to many foreign merchants, the majority was exported to Venice. With such extensive sugar cane plantations all around, Kolossi also boasted a sugar cane mill and a sugar refinery, which belonged to the House of Martini of Venice. The mill dates from the 14th century and its remains can be seen today.
The discovery of America and the subsequent cultivation of sugar cane in the New World led to the gradual decline of sugar production in Cyprus. Cotton production would slowly take over and writers from the 17th century speak of sugar cane crops turned over to cotton.
Also located near to Kolossi Castle is the small Byzantine church of Saint Efstathios, built during the 12th century, significant redevelopment work took place in the 15th century to create the building we see today. Inside, the dome of the church features well preserved paintings, while another wall painting portrays St Efstathios, astride his horse.
Kolossi Castle and its surroundings is a fascinating place to visit and a wonderful opportunity to get a feel for how life would have been in medieval times. A stroll around the grounds and through the well-preserved rooms of the castle itself, makes it easy to imagine yourself transported back to the years of Richard the Lionheart and the days when the area was a centre of economic prosperity.