Buffavento castle is situated on the north side of the occupied Pentadaktylos mountain range, 954 m above sea level. The peak on which the castle is built upon is the second highest peak of the northern side of the mountain range from where one can survey the whole island apart from the southwestern area. The area’s inaccessibility and rocky surface are characteristics that predetermined the castle complex’s features, limiting its size but at the same time making it one of the strongest and unconquerable observation posts on the island.
We first come across the name when, after his defeat in 1191, Isaak Komnenos was forced to hand over this castle and others to Richard the Lionheart. The Franks probably gave the castle the name Buffavent in memory of the Buffavent fort in the Savoy Mountains.
The Buffavento castle like that of Kantara and St. Hilarion, was built at the end of the 11th – beginning of 12th century at a time when Cyprus was of great military and political importance to the Byzantine Empire since nearly the whole of Asia Minor had been conquered by the Seltzouk Turks. The beginning of the crusades at the end of the 11th century made the island even more important from a strategic point of view. From the forts on the north side of the Pentadaktylos mountain range, and especially from Buffavento, one could observe the Cilicia Sea and the south coast of Asia Minor but also watch the ship’s movements in the area and transmit news to Lefkosia with fire signals.
During the Frankish period buildings were added onto the Byzantine complex and the castle’s surviving entrance was constructed as were the two rooms in the lower level. During this period the castle was used as a fortress, a transmitting base and mainly as a prison. Like the other castles in the area, Buffavento was also destroyed by the Venetians at the beginning of the 16th century (after 1529) in their attempt to prevent enemies from using it as a fortress. On the eve of the Ottoman conquest in 1570, Astore Baglione, who was preparing Lefkosia’s defense, seems to have sent the city’s unarmed civilians to Buffavento for protection.
The castle was built in accordance to the natural landscape and it is comprised of three zones:
A large cistern and the remains of a large room that probably functioned as a stable were constructed in the lowest zone.
The second zone is comprised of the fortresses’ entrance with a pointed arch, renovated by the Franks and located in the eastern wall of a two-story tower (only the first floor survives today which is covered by a groin-vault. To the west of the entrance there is a Lusignan building complex with an arched room and two other rooms carved into the natural rock. There is also an arched room with two cisterns in its floor. In the same area there are on either side of the stone staircase small arched rooms which probably used to function as arsenals. In the southwestern part of the fort there is a two-story building which belongs to the Byzantine period and is comprised of three rectangular rooms.
A staircase, which is partly carved into the natural rock, leads one to the highest zone. Here there are three building complexes. In the central area there is a rectangular building dated to the Lusignan period and covered with groin-vaults. This building possibly functioned as a chapel. To the west there is a row of four rooms belonging to the castle’s Byzantine phase. In the largest room’s floor there are two cisterns that concentrated the rain water which ran from the building’s flat roof via vertical water pipes. A cistern also exists in the second room and a third (outdoor) one is situated outside the castle’s north fortification wall. The rooms’ north wall extends westwards and leads to a narrow platform which was possibly the point from where the fire signals were communicated to Lefkosia and Keryneia.