I realized after my previous post that I failed to clarify an important point: Limassol is not the capital of Cyprus. A city called Nicosia, further north, is the capital. But Limassol is an economic powerhouse in Cyprus, since it’s the hub for the prosperous shipping industry.
Limassol’s really big claim to historical fame, at least for the English-speaking world, is that it’s where King Richard the Lionheart married his wife, Berengaria of Navarre, in the lusty month of May, 1191. Now, if you’ve seen the classic 1968 film The Lion in Winter, you know two things about Richard (played by Sir Anthony Hopkins): his family makes the Medicis look like the Brady Bunch and he had a man crush on King Philip II of France (played by Timothy Dalton).
I (sort of) understand the difference between drama and real life, but it was thought for many years that Richard and Philip may have been more than good friends. As this site makes plain, the speculation has been out there, but it may be groundless. Be that as it may, no less a marriage counselor than the Pope had to advise King Richard to be a good husband to Berengaria, who apparently didn’t do much to turn the royal crank, so to speak. Richard spent the vast majority of his time as king fighting in the Crusades.
My guess (based on my 30 seconds of study) is that Richard was basically a hothead with a knack for violence. To a hammer, as they say, every problem looks like a nail. Berengaria and Richard’s sister Joan were shipwrecked off the coast of Cyprus en route to meet up with Richard. The governor of Cyprus saw an opportunity for some ransom cash and this ultimately lead to Richard arresting the governor and taking over the island. This, in turn, lead to the island being bought and exploited by the Knights Templar.
Today, visitors to Limassol can visit the site where the marriage of Richard and Berengaria is supposed to have taken place – Limassol Castle. In fact, as if to help clueless tourists get there more easily, the street along the castle’s eastern side is called “Richard I & Berengaria of Navarre”, which seems like a tricky thing to explain to the pizza delivery guy.