In the 13th Century Famagusta was a booming centre of trade. People from all over the Mediterranean and the Middle East came either as refugees or as traders so the place was quite a metropolis in its time. To keep everyone safe and secure a fortress was built which included a castle, Gothic cathedrals and churches.
An interesting point that has been talked about for centuries is whether the legend is true that Shakespeare set his play Othello within the Castello castle that was built within the fortress.
The clues are there to confirm this as one of the round towers of the castle is called Othello and it was here as it suggests in the play that the Venetian Moor strangled his lover.
The battle that began in 1571 is one that has gone down in Cypriot history as one of the most superhuman ones. The record tells us that Turkish army was fighting against the Venetians for 72 days and during that time over 1,500 Turkish cannons fired endlessly at the fortress. Then having beaten off six more attacks the Venetians had to admit defeat and the 7,000 soldiers that had tried so hard to hold onto their city were promised free passage out of Cyprus if they gave up fighting. The Turks, however, never ever meant this to happen, they broke their promise killing all the Venetian officers and taking special delight in killing the brave Venetial commander, Marcantonio Bragadin, who was publicly skinned alive after weeks of barbarian torture. The story doesn’t end there as the Turkish forces had been seriously weakened by Venetians who were vowing revenge on their comrades. At an attack which lead to the famous victory at Lepanto, the Venetians never forgot their fellow countrymen who had died in Famagusta as they went into battle with Turks they would cry aloud to their enemy ‘Remember Famagusta’.