Saint Hilarion Castle
In an impressive location, with steep and majestic rocks, at the western peak of Pentadaktylos mountains, stand the remnants of Saint Hilarion’s castle.
The exact construction date of the castle is not ascertained. However, it is estimated that in conjunction with the other two castles of Pentadaktylos mountain range, Kantara and Buffavento castles, Saint Hilarion Castle was built at the end of the 11th century. These three castles were overseeing Mesaoria plain and were watching the northern coasts, protecting the island from sea raids.
Both the mountain peak and the medieval fortress got their name from one of the saints, named Hilarion. It is said that at this steep and difficult to approach mountain peak, Saint Hilarion has lived until his death. Therefore, the inhabitants of the area, to honor him, they have erected a Byzantine church in his name, which later consisted part of the fort.
Originally built by the Byzantines as a watch tower, the Castle of Saint Hilarion was transformed into a castle during the Frankish era, when the location was used by the royal family as a summer gateway. When the island came under Venetian rule, by the end of the 15th century, similarly to the castles of Buffavento and Kantaras, the fortress was abandoned and later on demolished.
The castle consists of three units, built on three different levels. The first section, located on the lower lever is surrounded by the Byzantine fortification wall. The middle part of the castle contains the most important remains; the royal palace, the kitchen with the vaulted ceiling and the remnants of Saint Hilarion church. The church dates back to the 11th century and has a trapezoidal layout with a dome. A steep path leads to the highest level, with the arched Lusignan Gate and a courtyard. This section consists of two complexes, the royal apartments, which is a two-storey narrow building dated on the 14th century, and the auxiliary chambers.
Once an imposing fortress, the ruins of Saint Hilarion Castle look nowadays like they sprout from the mountain’s top. Probably one of the most impressive heritage sites on the island, with a fascinating history, it is a perfect spot to be explored.
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