The bastion was built by the
Venetian architect Giovanni San Micheli between 1550-1559. With its
triangular design it is one of the good examples of military architecture.
In its vaulted
chambers there are chimneys for gunpowder smoke to escape and for ventilation to
take place. On its walls there are niches for gunpowder barrels and cannon
balls. When commander Martinengo, the popular commander of the Venetian
reinforcement troops to Cyprus, dies on the way, he is brought to Cyprus and his
name is given to this bastion.
The Martinengo Bastion is one
of the finest examples of military architecture in Mediterranean lands. With its
immense size, covering more than one square mile, and even today, in modern
warfare, would make a superb defence point for the town. It is comparable with
the French forts built just before the first World War at Verdun.
What prompted the Venetians to
build such a huge fort here? Perhaps they feared an army landing on the beach
outside the harbour and attacking inland. The Italian architect who built this
fort, San Micheli, did not complete the job until I 559. He knew how vulnerable
angular corners to a bastion would be, but by way of compensation he constructed
two cannon flankers on either side of the triangular fort. With two on the other
side, the moat was covered with a field of fire. The flanker gunports are the
largest along the entire walls for here the biggest guns were installed.
Undoubtedly, the most
impressive view of the Martinengo Bastion is from the moat, but if you want to
explore the top, then it is bit of a walk back to the inside of the town where
the approach must be made. From the top there are passageways leading down to
the gun flankers and around you will see many vent holes to allow the smoke from
below to escape.
of the Martinengo Bastion
The maximum thickness of the
walls is 20 feet (6 m.), and all built of stone masonry, in contrast to the
modern forts of reinforced concrete. The sketch plan of the entire fort is shown
in figure here and what a valuable gift it would have been to the Ottoman
commander in I 570, but to his military credit he decided not to attack strong
points like this. In fact this was the general policy of Ottoman Turks in the
field, not to attack these highly fortified bastions, but to lead an attack on
the weak in-between areas along the walls.