18 Feb Gastria Castle, Cyprus
At the northern tip of Ammochostos/Famagusta Bay, Gastria Castle Cyprus is only 10 metres above sea level, but it has a good view out to sea. Originally built by the Knights Templar, on their dissolution the Knights Hospitaller gained control of the castle in the early fourteenth century and it was part of the Grand Commandery . A document of 1510 mentions the casale of Gastria and records that secular people held it, due to its alienation by the Grand Commandery, against the Hospitaller statutes. The grand master granted it to Hospitaller Fr. Gregorio Morgati, commander of Villefranche (Villefranche-de-Conflent) in the Priory of Navarre.
Now in the illegally occupied part of Cyprus, I visited Gastria in May 2014, taking all provisions with me. Gastria is unkempt and uncared for. There are only a few remains of the walls and what looks like a dry moat that separates the motte from the bailey. In contrast to Kolossi Castle, Gastria Castle’s structure and strategic position indicate it originally had a military role. However, there is also good farmland in the area, which might explain why seculars would be interested in the casale.
If you’re going, wear good boots, as there are a multitude of snake holes and although the water looks tempting, large lizards frequent the beach.