Cyprus Is The Third Largest Island History Essay
Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (fig 1.1) and it is located on the far eastern end of the Mediterranean (Hadjidemetriou 2007). In the past, many vastly different civilizations controlled Cyprus, such as, ancient Egypt and Assyria, Persia, Greece, Rome, Arabia and Byzantium (Newmann 1940: vii).
Fig. 1.1 Map of the Cyprus location
This is the reason why the island is home to various cultures and exhibits traces from its different rulers. There are a multitude of archaeological sites (dating from the earliest presence of humans on the island in the Epipalaeolithic until more recent periods) including cathedrals, churches, palaces, castles, Ottoman baths, fortification walls and aqueducts. As is well known, a great number of wars took place in Cyprus and many of these constructions were either demolished or have been re-styled for many different purposes. These traces from past civilisations constitute part of the Cypriot cultural heritage even if they have changed or lost their originality. This study has been divided into four chapters where each chapter analyses different themes. In this research, it is aimed to demonstrating antiquities were protected and preserved in the North Cyprus under the authority of Department of Antiquities and some worldwide foundation that is supported projects about cultural heritage in north Cyprus.
1.0 Introduction and Research Question
Famagusta is located in northeastern Cyprus. The history of Famagusta is based on the Late Cypriot Bronze age (that is named Enkomi) (fig 2.1) until the British took control. There are a few ruins that were built from the bronze ages and a great number of architectural sites were constructed until the British era.
Fig. 2.1 Late Cypriot Bronze age site of
However, there is a fortification walls around the old City of Famagusta that was built by Venetians (Newman 1940: 160). Additionally, Walsh (2004: 27) said that the Famagusta was richer than Constantinople and Venice in the times of abundance. There are a plenty of churches, cathedrals and Turkish baths located in the Walled City of Famagusta. All of them bear witness to the colourful history of Cyprus and they also carried traces of historic importance in regards to Famagusta. One of them is named as St. Nicholas Cathedral. It is located inside the Walled City of Famagusta. Construction of the Cathedral was begun in the year 1300 AD (see plate 1) in august by Genoese but it was completed in 1464 before Genoese egress to the Island (Walsh 2005: 3; Walsh 2004: 27). This cathedral was carried and preserved by gothic architectural elements inside the walled city. Also M. Walsh argued that, “St. Nicholas cathedral carried similar architecture with northern French and Rhineland structure so St. Nicholas is the daughter of the Notre Dame of Rheims” (see plate 2) (Walsh 2005:2; Walsh 2004: 26). Also the walled city of Famagusta was accepted one of needs protecting sites by the World Monument Fund. There is a team which name as SAVE funded by USAID. They worked all over the Northern part of the Cyprus as well as at the Walled City of Famagusta, have done many works. In other words, they repaired critical architecture which is name as Church of Sts Peter and Paul (Sinan Pasa Mosque); make a conservation at the Buyuk Konut village on Traditional village olive mill; they make conservation of the Altar Canopy and repair the altar table, they made a wooden walkway for tourists at the archaeological site that is called Soli (Morphou) and protected the Soli mosaics, they equilibrate of the Iconostasis and adjustment bell tower and site protection preventions of the Church of St Mamas in Morphou and lastly they make emergency restoration and stabilization of 12th century church in the Akanthou  .
Additionally, the first ancient monuments repairs, protect and preserved were begun in 1935 in Famagusta by the Department of Antiquities Cyprus (Hilton 1935: 1). The Department of Antiquities had two main factors for protection and preservation work in Famagusta. The first one, ancient buildings are located in a small area in Famagusta so they were needed conservation because before 1935 there was non-existent initiative to fixed ancient buildings. For this reason architects and quarriers had to train and they used special conservation techniques on the multifarious monuments in Famagusta and they were constituted unique training places. Second reasons were the glamour of tourists and also the location of the Famagusta is playing a big role. Because, it was located nearby the ancient city of Salamis and many other antiquities in Famagusta district (fig 3.1).
3.1 Salamis Ruins
The last and the third reason was, Famagusta and Larnaca have owned port and it is very accessible for tourist to come Famagusta either two ports (Hilton 1935). However, Department of Antiquities in Cyprus was begun to protect St. George of Greeks, St. Simeon (orthodox cathedral), St. George of Latins, the Carmelite Church, Fortifications and tourist office inside the walled city in the 1935 (Hilton 1935: 1). In addition, there were a few works done on the St. Nicholas Cathedral at the Cyprus Antiquities before 1974. First restoration and excavation was done on the St. Nicholas Cathedral in 1936. They were digging in the north-west corner of the cathedral, and the secondly they restored the missing pieces capital topping of southern pillar (Mogabgab 1936: 105). So the first restoration or conservation works begun 1950s and continued until 1973 (RDAC 1950-1973).
As I mentioned before St Nicholas is located in the walled city of Famagusta and the department of antiquities done many restoration conservation and preservation works both interior and exterior part of it and these are published as an annual reports under the control of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus. Also after Ottoman conquered Cyprus they were preserved the some cathedrals and churches at the Nicosia on St. Sophia, Famagusta on St. Nicholas etc (Hanworth 1995: 135)
Finally our cultural heritage has to be protected and preserved for the next generation. Day by day they are demolished and destroyed because of the sun, and other natural reasons, from humans and animals (sheep, goats and birds’ sometimes homeless families live inside the old buildings). If we do not stop the situation the result will be that future generations will see these structures can be seen only in photographs and they will not see these buildings in the original place or touch them to feel the authentic link to the islands rich historic past.
2.0 The origins of Cypriot Gothic Architecture Etymology and Art
2.1 Etymology of the term of Gothic
The term of the Gothic was carried out for arts of high in the middle ages. Also it was derived underestimate in the 17th century. For the architecture it was put in practice ad also developed in the 12th century in Ile de France. There are some architectural speciality of the Gothic architecture that are included; pointed arch, piers, vaults, glass and tracery (Read 1985: 146). Also Gothic architecture contained Romanesque architectural elements, which are rib-vaults and pointed arches. The flying buttresses are combined with Romanesque architecture and reveal new architectural style which is named as a Gothic. The significance was on dynamic line instead of on weight and mass. Moreover, they were worked on engineering problems along with new essence of religious mysticism and aspiration system. Additionally, stained glass and sculpture were used as decorative purposes (Read 1985). Also they were bringing to the light crosswise arch, which is named as a vaulting method and if this processes was work, that pillars were adequate to carry of the arches of the vaulting between that the other stones were hold as a trivial filling.
In addition, the other author being E. H. Gombrich has mentioned us where the Gothic style was born (1995). He noted that the new idea, being born in France, might at the first instance seem a technical invention; however, it was much more than that (Gombrich 1995: 185). Crosswire arches in vaulting of a church had been, together with this invention, a technical breakthrough showing much greater use than Norman methods. The very idea of adequacy of the pillars for main side of pressure holdage for the vault of the church rendered all the remaining stone work as mere decoration. “All that was needed”, noted Gombrich, “were slim pillars and narrow `ribs`. Anything in between could be left out without danger of the scaffolding collapsing” (1995: 185). This discovery outdated the necessity of heavy stone walls – large windows might just well do fine. The only stone work, which was the necessity following the limitations of the technology, consisted of frames and girders. Nonetheless, such stonework carried alongside a great deal of calculation accuracy. Following this immense care, it was then possible to build churches merely from stone and glass work – something totally new for that era. “This is”, concluded Gombrich, “the leading idea of gothic cathedrals, which was developed in the northern France in the second half of the twelfth century” (1995: 185).
(Gombrich 1995: 185)
Moreover, other author who is Musgrove (eds) (1987) affirmed the born of the Gothic architecture. He argued that;
Gothic is remarkable because it appears to represent a complete break with the architectural inheritance of Greece and Rome. When it was consciously revived in the nineteenth century it was regarded as the antithesis of everything the Classical tradition stood for; and it took its place in the repertory of styles as a legitimate alternative to all the versions of Classical architecture currently or recently in vogue, whether Baroque, Rococo, Palladian, or strict Greek. […] Although Gothic spread across the rest of Europe from is birthplace in Northern France, it did so in fits and starts, and often without due deference to French prototypes.
(Musgrove 1987: 387-388).
In addition, there is a bizarre idea about the Gothic term from different author who is Rathus. He was noted that,
Art and architecture of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries is called Gothic. The term of Gothic originated among historians who believed that the Goths were responsible for the style of this period. Because critics believed that the Gothic style only further buried the light of Classicism, and because the Goths were “barbarians”, “Gothic” was used in a disparaging sense. For many years, the most positive criticism of the Gothic art was that it was a step forward from the Romanesque. Today such views have been abandoned. “Gothic” is no longer a term of derision, and the Romanesque and Gothic styles are seen as distinct and responsive to the unique tempers of their times.
(Rathus 1998: 307)
2.2 How did Gothic came to Cyprus?
As I mentioned before Gothic was born in the France (Musgrove 1987) and it was spread whole over the world. Also Cyprus is located at the key point of the Mediterranean Sea. So many cultures come and pass on the island such as Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Lusignan, Venetian, Ottomans and English etc. and they were built amazing monuments and all these monuments show the richest of the island (churches, cathedrals, Turkish baths,). In addition origins of the Gothic architecture in Cyprus influences from northern France, northern Champagne, south France and non influence the Renaissance (Enlart 1987). Also he was noted that cathedral and churches similarities and differences between overseas influences to Cyprus cathedral and churches. These are explaining at following paragraphs.
Moreover, the first influence of the northern France. According to the Enlart (1987);
The French schools of Gothic architecture which have been influential in Cyprus are those of the Ile-de-France, Champagne and the school common to Languedoc and Provence. Spanish and Italian architecture has also had a certain influence. The Ile-de-France school is the oldest and most important of the gothic schools; its characteristic features indeed form the basis for every definition of the Gothic style. Its only direct influence is on Nicosia Cathedral. The founder, Archbishop Thierry, came from Paris where his brother was a sub-precentor at Notre Dame. This explains the similarities presented by the choir and the transept of the cathedral with certain buildings in Paris and its immediate surroundings. The choir of St. Sophia, the oldest example of Gothic architecture in Cyprus, is built on a very unusual plan (see plate 3).
(Enlart 1987: 46)
In addition, he was continued to give an example other paragraph similarities about doorways to St. Sophia, St. Nicholas and Morphou cathedrals. And he noted that;
The oldest doorway of St Sophia are those north side, one of them going back to earliest years of the construction and the other slightly more recent. These doorways have colonnettes on flutes plinths. This is very common form of ornamentation in the north of France from the middle of the twelfth to the middle of the thirteenth century; examples from the twelfth century can be seen on the south doorway of Notre Dame at Etampes […], from the thirteenth century there are examples at St Andrew […] this style of ornamentation, elaborated with varying degrees of imagination, was copied in Cyprus in some buildings of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries such as St Nicholas at Nicosia and at Morphou. From about the same period Cypriot architecture took over and repeated to excess the motif of rosette diapers aligned in grooves. This is a motif characteristic of twelfth century in the north of France which lingered into the thirteenth century in Normandy and Flanders; in the south of France it is found in the fourteenth century, as on the window of a secular building at Angouleme and in Italy in the cloisters of Fosanova; in Cyprus it makes its first appearance at the end of the thirteenth century, is extremely popular in the fifteenth century and has remained constant use to present day.
(Enlart 1987: 47-48)
Furthermore, Enlart was continued to give idea about how Gothic come to Cyprus. His second opinion is the influence of Champagne. He noted that;
The school of Champagne is the least original of Gothic schools in France, owing everything to its powerful neighbours; but it covered a more extensive territory than most others, it produced a number of outstanding works at an early date and it had great influence outside its own area. The influence of Champagne extends not only to Cyprus but to Greece as well. It is also found in Provence, Languedoc, north-west Spain and Germany. Proximity is sufficient explanation for Germany and for the rest of the sphere of influence there are historic reasons.
(Enlart 1987: 48)
Moreover, Enlart (1987) noted that Cyprus was under the influence of southern France and he went further on to give many examples about differences amongst centuries on how materialized the influences from southern France had been. He emphasized the importance of Mediterranean ports for French sailors navigating to Cyprus – especially the privileged merchants of Merseilles and Montpellier regarding the active trade between Famagusta and Narbonne (Enlart 1987: 55). It is also noteworthy that a significant sum of nobles of Kingdom of Cyprus had their origins from Provence nobility, of whose Portus Provensalium was near the Armenian Coast. “In particular”, notes Enlart, “from the Southern France high of des Baux, de Pins, de Villaret, Alaman, de la Baume, Berenger and de Saint-Gilles” were the main sites in question. Such people who migrated to Cyprus had been high rank churchmen – a curious point for the consideration of religious architecture emergence. Enlart (1987: 55) emphasized the migration of Eustorgius of Montaigu, being a famous archbishop from the Gothis school of Languedoc, to Cyprus. He had been distinguished by the work of his family, and the “church in which he had served in France is unquestionably one of the most remarkable examples of southern Gothic art” (Enlart 1987: 55)
After that Enlart continues to argue the influence of Southern France on Cyprus (1987: 57). When Eustorgius of Montaigu returned to France on 1316, he emphasized the churches located in the East – even so that he chose to be buried in Rodez. He had taken part in the construction of the Rodez Cathedral, alongside with his professional supervision of Nicosia and Famagusta Cathedrals. The significant similarity amongst such cathedrals must have a solid link to this bishop as “in their construction he clearly made use of the services if not of the same artists educated in the same southern French school, either at Rodez or Avignon, in which two places he resided alternately” (Enlart 1987: 57-58). Buildings that had been constructed during the era of Peter of Pleine-Cassagne (who managed the activities of the bishop) showed the effects of southern French Gothic architectural design
(Enlart 1987: 57-58)
Moreover he (Enlart 1987) is giving the idea of how southern French architecture yielded on to the Romanesque churches in the fourteenth century in Cyprus. He said that;
Southern French architecture already supplied Cyprus with the models for its few Romanesque churches. In style they belong to that school or rather to the school of great architectural region which includes the Bourbonnais, the Maconnais, Forez, Velay, Limousin […] Romanesque churches in Cyprus do not have engaged columns but simple pilasters as with the more rural of the French examples […] In a series of Romanesque churches in central France there are small treasuries inserted between the apses and the apsidal chapels […] This form of construction was imitated in the Gothic period at Famagusta in the Greek cathedral and the Nestorian church.
(Enlart 1987: 59)
Also Enlart (1987) continued to gave similarities of the architectural elements between overseas and Cyprus. He said that;
One of the types of support which southern French architecture favoured was a round, very tall pillar crowned by round, very low capital, sometimes completely plain […] the same type of pillar can be found at Famagusta in the churches of St Nicholas, S.S Peter and Paul, St George of the Greeks and St. Sozomenos and Trimithi.
(Enlart 1987: 60-61)
As a result of this there are many architectural similarities between southern France to Cyprus monuments at the beginning of the Gothic and end of the Gothic. As an example of these similarities are used tall round pillar with a crown on it, plain low capitals which are used eleventh century until fourteenth century. They can be seen that kind of pillar in the Famagusta churches if St Nicholas, St George of Greek etc (Enlart 1987). Also he indicated that they used corbelled brackets for assist the spring of the arches; used a groined vaults in place of ribbed vaults. As an example in Cyprus it was used in St Anne. Also they were used lateral gable for any of lunette of vault. Additionally, he underlined special characteristics about the pediment and doorways. C. Enlart (1987: 64) indicated that “some church doorways in Cyprus are specially characterised by a sharply-pointed pediment, carved with leaves, and very tall jambs”. It is not hard to identify similar structure doorways in southern French architecture (e.g. Beziers and Marmande Cathedrals) as well as Spanish architecture where the northern doorways of St. Peter and St. Paul cathedrals in Famagusta resemble the doorway of Manresa Cathedral (Enlart 1987: 64-66). A tympanum with an arcade decoration resembles St. Nicholas’ (in Nicosia) western doorway. It is not enough to say that only the pediments and open work tympana show similarities between Famagusta Cathedral and Notre Dame as well as St. Nicaise (at Rheims); there appears also a significant similarity between late 14th to 15th century doorways found in Provence and Cyprus (Enlart 1987: 64-66). Enlart noted that through a 14th century perspective “St Florent at Orange and…Yeni-Djami and St Catherine at Nicosia are alike in having a deep groove framed by moulding and decorated with sculptured motifs” (1987: 66). It is also important to note the finding that Cypriot doorways show an exact similarity to cloister abacuses found in St. Trophime (at Arles) being constructed during 14th century (Enlart 1987: 66).
(Enlart 1987: 64-66)
After that information he gave the instruction about the buttress of the Gothic monuments. He argued that;
The shape of some of the buttress on Gothic buildings in Cyprus deserved mention. It is quite common to find a bead moulding in the angles of buttress of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, for instance in Nicosia on the porch of the St Sophia, on St. Nicholas, St. George of the poulains and Stavro tou Missiricou , on St Mamas at Dhali and elsewhere.
(Enlart 1987: 66)
Furthermore, we can argue the existence of non-French influences within Cypriot churches being built during the Renaissance period. Enlart (1987) provided us with some ideas about this incident. He emphasized the influence of north-eastern regions of Spain on Cypriot architecture during 15th century (1987: 66). Even though there might be data indicating a prior influence, it just is not possible for us to discern the effects scientifically as “in other countries where the Gothic style had been imported from France, it hardly took on a local character until its very last period” (Enlart 1987: 66). The common maritime trade between Barcelona and Famagusta during the 14th century gives way to possible explanations via a historical approach, nonetheless. We can easily note the existence of some colonnettes in the Famagusta Cathedral (that had been turned into a mosque after Ottoman invasion- 16th century) being removed from their original places that bear significant resemblances to the Gothic style in question, which is still possible to see today (1987: 64-66). 14th century architectural style within Rhodes was significantly identical with Spanish style and had been documented to be brought to Cyprus (15th century) by the Knights of Rhodes (Enlart 1987: 65). Although Spanish influence came under effect before 15th century, it hardly had any effect after this time with respect to the renovative influence of Italian Renaissance concurrently occurring. Nevertheless, Kingdom of Cyprus had shown hitherto two distinct influences in its architecture: pre-conquest Byzantine art (favoured by natives) and French Gothic style (mainly favoured by Franks and exceptional Cypriots who did not acknowledge Italian architecture before their Renaissance) (Enlart 1987: 66).
Also he was argued other influences on the Cypriot architecture. C. Enlart (1987) noted that;
The Venetian style was predominant in Cyprus from the fifteenth century right down to the present day in the gilded woodwork which is so common in churches.[…] in other buildings in Cyprus the style of art imported from Italy is blended with that mongrel Byzantine-Gothic style which subsequently arose in Cyprus,as at Stavro tou Missiricou in Nicosia, or Agia Napa, and which dominant down to the present day.
(Enlart 1987: 67-71)
3.0 Medieval Famagusta
3.1 Context of History of the Rise of the City
There should be no necessity to explain how deep the history of Cyprus is. It is a clear fact that many civilizations from very ancient times have settled in Cyprus. We can chronologically, count these civilizations such as the Egyptians, Assyrians, Romans, Byzantines, Lusignans, and Venetians and so on. However because our focus is limited only to one of the citys, we will not examine the periods of all these civilizations. It is a fact that those civilizations have used Cyprus with different aims but the majority has used it primarily as a military post. The first reason for this is the geographical location of Cyprus on the map. The history of Cyprus contains lots of information about them but we will not mention them all in this chapter. As a summary of their way of life in Cyprus, because of their militaristic aims, they built magnificent fortifications in Cyprus, especially in Nicosia and Famagusta. Of course not only fortifications, but also castles with huge defense walls around the city, they also made Cyprus culturally and historically rich with their fascinating architectures. Imagine all those civilizations were in Cyprus side by side and doubtless each of them left something from their culture in Cyprus. This is proof of why Cyprus is historically quite important country. It is fact that all the cities in Cyprus are quite rich with their historical information but it has a city that is more important, more impressive than others. It is not hard to guess which of them I refer to; it is Famagusta, the city which lies over the beautiful seaside. So now we will deal with the rise of Famagusta at the beginning of this chapter.
Famagusta is quite a historical city even referred too with different names since it first appeared. The ancient name of Famagusta is formed from the two Greek words Ammos (sand) and Chono (to hide), namely Ammochostos (Gunnis 1936: 79). When we look at the history of Famagusta, though some scholars believe that its’ history is obscure, the history informs us that it had been founded by King Ptolemy Philadelphius of Egypt and then its’ massive history gets under way from that point onwards. As a common opinion, people believe that the population of ancient Famagusta migrated from the neighboring city of Salamis. And the reason for this was both natural disasters and some invasions from overseas. We know the city of Salamis as one of the ancient and also modern city of that period. It would be true to say that at the beginning, the city of Famagusta was only a village with a harbor and castle. But it was a fortunate city because it is located on the seashore and became quite rich in a short time. Because the city of Famagusta is situated on the seashore; it is clear that they had control of the harbors of all Eastern Mediterranean Sea and realm for itself. Namely it would be true to say that Famagusta was the one of richest citys during the ancient and medieval time with the reason being the trade they had. The population was rich, even Gunnis says that
Famagusta was regarded as the principal mart of the Mediterranean and an ever-increasing stream of wealth flowed into the city. The nobility was the richest in the world, and regarded an income of 3, ooo gulden with no more respect than a few shillings would be in other places. There was a Count of Jaffa who kept 500 hounds and a servant for every two dogs. Indeed many nobles did not have less than 200 servants as falconers and huntsmen.
(Gunnis 1936: 79)
That should not amaze us because we said it was one of important trade centre of that historical period on the sea of Mediterranean. In addition to this, the merchants of the great commercial communities of Venice, Genoa, Pisa, Marseilles and Barcelona established themselves at Famagusta. Even the merchants of Famagusta were renowned for their wealth. For instance, one of them is said to have given to his daughter as a wedding dowry jewels more valuable than all the regalia of the queen of France (Newman 1940: 137). This should be enough strong evindence of their wealthly life style when they had settled in Famagusta.
However; as history moves on we see the situation changing for Famagusta. The troubles for Famagusta start with Genoese occupation in 1394. As evidence to this information, we have some information of Martoni who was in Cyprus during that time. In one of his report he says that;
On the 27th of November 1394 I landed at Famagusta...the city of Famagusta is large, as large I reckon as the city of Capua, but a great part, almost a third, is uninhabited, and the houses are destroyed, and this has been done since the date of the Genoese lordship.
(Gunnis 1936: 82)
Nevertheless he continued his words with the description of city wall and castle. He says;
[…]the castle of the city is fine and is nearly all in the sea, except perhaps a fourth part on the city side, and there are fine ditches there constructed on either side which are filled with the sea water, and remain always full of the said water, making the said castle impregnable.
(Gunnis 1936: 82; Cobham 1969)
Moving on to population, during the very early times of the city of Famagusta, there were a certain number of Genoese and a large number of Greeks. In fact, people were glad with their way of life under the occupation except that there were some rules only for the female population. We learn from Gunnis’ work that no woman can go out of the city of Famagusta without the permission of the Commandant and a man cannot live in the city. The reason of this was woman had to spin and prepare wool for the camlet and the reason for keeping up the man is for moral decency (Gunnis 1936: 82-83). As the time passed on, during the time of Genoese occupation, James II marries with one of Venetian queen Catherine Cornaro but after a short time James II and his son dies because of poison. Unfortunately, Catherine Cornaro had opportunity to hold the crown for a few years. Venice administration did not allow her to govern Cyprus and Seigniory decide to get control of Cyprus from her hands. As a summary she had to turn back her country and leave the control of Cyprus to Venice Councilors and a Civil Commissioners. Venice held Cyprus from the years of 1489 to 1571 and moved the capital from Nicosia to Famagusta. Even the Venetian Governor “Captain of Cyprus” was living in Famagusta and he had large civil powers as well as the command of troops in Cyprus. These are the facts that lead him to reconstruct the magnificent city wall around of the city of Famagusta. It is a fact that this city wall was well constructed; at least they could defend the city from the Turks for a while. If we deal with the history of war between Turks and Venetians about Famagusta; it was the last city of Cyprus which Turks conquered from Venetians into Cyprus. The fall of Famagusta marked the end of Venetians resistance in Cyprus. Nevertheless, this siege of Famagusta is damaged the city wall but after than the Turks repaired the wall again. History tells us that the Venetians period was an unhappy time for the Island. If we summarize what has happened on that time; trade decreased, manufactures ceased, landowners abandoned their property, schools closed, and the population migrated to elsewhere. On the other side, if we look at the history of city during Ottoman time, the life of people was better than Venetian period. At least they had religious rights back. As I mentioned above, they reconstructed the city walls after siege with Venetians but it is the fact that it became a kind of prison which Ottoman used to send exile the people who were against Ottoman Rule. Even when the British arrived to Cyprus in 1878, the history tells us that they found various State prisoners within the walls of Famagusta.
Before starting to examine the Cathedral of St. Nicholas (fig 5.1), it would be useful to describe the city of Famagusta. Famagusta is literary strongest city of Cyprus both with its’ historical background and with its architectures, buildings and churches. It is the fact that, Famagusta always becomes more important city within the Cyprus. Actually the reason is clear; as I mentioned above, it contains a harbor that all countries which busy with trade needed to stop by there. So this commercial factor made Famagusta richer and more important, wealthier city than others. Besides if we look to history a bit, we would see that all those important people, king or queen or anyone important; they all have preferred to make Famagusta as central city of Cyprus. As a consequence of this importance, today we see Famagusta as a city of mixed culture. For instance, it had almost 15,000 to 20,000 houses and the extraordinarily disproportionate number of 365 churches especially during the Venetian time (Cobham 1969: 434).
Fig. 5.1 St Nicholas Cathedral (Famagusta)
If we try to describe the city; Famagusta is surrounded by walls with many stones that are still standing perfectly. The walls of Famagusta are about two miles in length and totally surrounding the old city. About height, the walls are about 50 feet and in some places as much as 27 feet thick. One of the walls faces to the sea and the other three overlook the rest of Cyprus. Probably the best view of wall is from the moat. Even then it is still possible to drive round the moat. We know that when the Venetians took over Cyprus in 1489, they inherited a city that already had defensive walls, so it is a big possibility that it has been built by Lusignans. In addition, as I mentioned before Famagusta had a city wall since 1211 and many kingdoms used fortification wall for protects city of Famagusta and their kingdoms. According to Enlart these fortification wall was deficient (Enlart 1987: 444). Also Newman had argued that medieval fortification wall comprise of the sea castle and it was built beginning of the Lusignan period (Newman 1940: 160). After that Venetians built city walls around the Famagusta because they want to defence the island and eliminate to the danger of sea trade (Newman 1940: 160). The circumference of the city wall is nearly 3km. The shapes of the fortification walls are oblong square and all the bastions have a semicircular shape. There is a fosse and outside of the city wall and three sides of the land cut for built it. Additionally there are two gates for entrance to the land. One of them is located on the southern part of the city and the other one located on the north east corner of the city. It was used for entrance between the city and the port (Cobham 1969: 255). Also the definite information about who was built city wall represented by Enlart. He argued that fortification wall of Famagusta built by Henry II from 1285 to 1324 (Enlart 1987: 444).
Moreover, Famagusta had own Ship port and it was used as a ware house for east-west trade by Acre until Famagusta was descent to the Muslims (Edbury 1999: 337). Also Famagusta committee said that their own magazines (1989) there are several overseas vendors that are Syrians, Greeks, Jews, Provencal Armenians and Italians.
Besides, a lot of voyagers travelled to the Cyprus in from 1191 to 1571 (during the Frankish period) and general ideas of all them were the wealth of the administer class (Hunt 1990: 192). In addition, Dante opinion and Cobham (1969) said that; Famagusta was a rich city and it was a popular destination for the vendors. Also the other author who is named Edbury (1940) argue that; city of Famagusta had an astonishing economical abundance. As well as, some travellers were referred to the city's wealth in the fourteen century, such as explorer Ludolf Sudheim and historian Leontios Makhairas (Edbury 1940: 337).
However, these flamboyant and rich years of the Famagusta gradually began ending beginning of the fifteenth century. A few voyagers give information about these attractive years. Such as Pierre Mesenge argue that;
[…] has a fine harbour, but for as much as the said harbour has long been in ruins, and is still not well restored, ships can not used it.
(Famagusta Committee 1989: 24)
Also he adds the other information about the city. He said that;
[…] Very poor, and but few merchants live there; it is almost all inhabited by poor farm-labourers whom the above mentioned soldiers hold in great subjection.
(Famagusta Committee 1989: 24)
There is the other information about the monuments that are located inside the walled city. Mesenge mentioned to the antiquities were rebuilt by the Venetians and between 1546 to 1568 storms and earthquakes were obstruct the works. Beside of this after the occupation the monasteries were transformed into military post by the Venetians (Famagusta Committee 1989: 24).The best part of construction of the walls is they are built on existing outcrops. It has two main gates which are named Sea Gate and Land Gate. The Sea Gate was built by one of the Venetian captains of Famagusta and still seems perfect. The lion of Venice and the name and date of the builder and his arms are still preserved on the façade, and it is believed that the colored marbles which form a background may come from the ruins of Salamis.
The inside of the city wall is also quite historically rich with the churches and cathedrals. It would be true to say that there are numerous types of churches and cathedrals with different names. Not all of them belong to Venetians but clearly they protected them well and many of them still look magnificent even today. It would be great to describe all those magnificent architectures but unfortunately we will deal with only one of them in this thesis and maybe we examine some similar building in order to compare them. There are numerous qualifications that made for Famagusta but one of them and maybe the best of them is ‘the city which represents the Latin Christendom in the Mediterranean and a hub of commerce ( Walsh 2005: 2).
Many civilizations and many buildings belong to them. It is hard to number them or which one of them is made by whom. Each society surely left some special buildings behind them when they left to Cyprus. As a quick summary, one of them was Crusaders though they had chance to live in Cyprus for a short time. However the history of Famagusta is a bit changed with this newcomers and wealthy life got started for people. So lifestyle had been changed and buildings, architectures become some kind of showing of their power to the other societies. As a consequence, this Cathedral came to represent the zenith of this wealth. Because of that St. Nicholas Cathedral belongs to the Lusignans, as we are more interested Lusingnan period of Cyprus. The story tells us that; the French Crusader Guy de Lusignan was first interested in Cyprus on his return from defeat at Hattin of the Third Crusade of 1192. Then whatever unfolded happened and the Lusignans came to Cyprus and clearly they brought the Medieval French culture with themselves.
It was during the middle of the 19th century that the most damage was done in Famagusta. Unfortunately complete churches were torn down and their stones transferred to that city to build its quays and hotels.
3.2 The History of the Cathedral of St Nicholas
As brief information to its history; St. Nicholas Cathedral belongs to the Lusignans’ period and the name of cathedral is coming from St. Nicholas because of dedication. The Cathedral of St. Nicholas (fig 4.1) is seriously hard to explain how magnificent it is. It rises above the roofs of the town. The history of the Church is also magnificent as much as itself. Walsh (2005) says that;
The Cathedral of St. Nicholas has not only borne witness to seventh centuries of this struggle, but stands as an icon, worn yet majestic, of the rich and transient dynastic rivalries, which in turn molded the identity, and therefore the appearance of modern Cyprus.
Fig. 4.1 St. Nicholas Catredral
Lala Mustafa Paşa Cami, Famagusta
Also the other scholar who is Enlart opinion, Jeffery says that,
This is remarkable example of European Art is at the present day used as the principal mosque of the city under the name Ay Sophia. The most ancient documents referring to this cathedral date from about the year 1300. A certain Isabella d`Autriche together with three Genoese merchants made testamentary bequests in this year to funds erecting the church, and with a view to being buried with it. Guy d`Ibelin, third Bishop of the see dying in 1308 left 70000 besants to the work; his successor Natonio Sarona, a spendthrift, managed to appropriate 20000 of this money, and somewhat retarded the progress of the building, but for less than a year. Baldwin Lampert, fifth Bishop, worthily carried on the project of his predecessor, Guy.
( Jeffery 1983 : 116-117)
There can be quotes from many scholars work about St. Nicholas Cathedral because it is clear fact that this fabulous work of art influenced many scholars. In addition to Walsh’s opinion, Cobham (1969) says that;
The mother church of Famagusta is dedicated to St. Nicholas, vaulted and very fair, with many chapels round it. The bishop of that church is Genoese, who formerly when the city was under the rule of the King of Cyprus had annually from the revenues of the church 400 ducats.
All this information shows us how this building was rich and had importance for Famagusta culture. Its architecture, design, frescoes, everything it has is evidence of Medieval Gothic architecture. In addition to the importance of Cathedral, we know that Jacques namely the last king of Cyprus buried in there. In order to believe this, people can read an epitaph on the left of the choir which says; to Jacques de Lusignan, King of Jerusalem, Cyprus and Armenia, be praise unstinted for his noble deeds and triumphs over the enemy. To claim the honours which were refused him this new Caesar invaded and won the kingdom of Cyprus, took side with the powerful arms of Venice, reduced Amegustus, and united himself in marriage with their daughter Kathelina, a very goddess in beauty. A pious, wise, clement, munificent and magnanimous prince, surpassing all in arms and war. Him savage death struck down in the 13th year of his reign and 33rd of his age, and cut off in his cradle his posthumous son, July 6, 1473. Catherine, the Venetian, Queen, his consort [erected monument]. Francis [de Pernisiis de], Vicheria, the servant of Christ, Bishops of Famagusta, composed [the epitaph] (Cobham 1969: 77-79).
About the construction process of cathedral, Walsh (2005) has quoted one of his colleague’s information who says; […] the construction of Cathedral got under way on 3rd August in the year 1300. The construction is done by the help of the French craftsmen and architects. On the other side Henry the II got the mission of rebuilding the cathedral and the town was enlarged to accommodate the refugees from Acre (Newman 1940: 134).
As I mentioned above, the cathedral is dedicated to St. Nicholas but today we see it as a mosque converted by the Turks when they conquered Cyprus from Venetians. Unfortunately, when they converted the cathedral into a mosque, they have changed many things of original cathedral in order to make it usual mosque for the Muslim population. This chapter does not have these changes but in the next chapters you will deal with these changes.
On the other side, the importance of the cathedral comes from basically the crown ceremony which happened for Lusignan king of Cyprus. The history tell us, in this cathedral the Lusignan king of Cyprus received the crown of Jerusalem. Apart from this, as I mentioned in the first section while summary the historical background of Cyprus, the queen Catherine Cornaro renounced her royal rights here in this cathedral, ceded the kingdom to Agostino Barberigo, Doge of Venice in 1489 and then she retired and turned back to Asolo.
When we search about the financial condition of the cathedral, we see that at the very early times it was quite rich cathedral, had enough budged in order to control the order into the cathedral. However history again show us that situations changed with the changing of administration into the cathedral. For instance we learn from Gunnis work that; when Guy d’Ibelin was the Bishop of Famagusta from 1298 to1308, he had collected 70,000bezants towards the building of the Cathedral, but then his successor Antonio Saurano replaces him but the point is, he was literally arrant knave person. As soon as he was enthroned he took 20,000 of the bezants and spent them on his own private pleasure and sold the church plate (Gunnis 1936:93). As a consequence to the history of St. Nicholas, it was one of important cathedral which locating into Cyprus. There are some similar buildings but it is fact that St. Nicholas is remarkable with its history and architecture itself.
3.3 The Cathedral Architecture
Moving on to architecture of cathedral; the Gothic style is seldom at its best and fully realized in a secular building. In every building Gothic style is more remarkable than others because it appears to represent a complete break with the architectural inheritance of Greece and Rome. The real purpose of Gothic drawing was to facilitate the design of complicated objects such as towers or spires and also complicated patterns such as vaults and window tracery. There can be seen also construction plague on the south wall which says;
In the year of Christ 1311 on the 4th August the money provided for the building of the church of Famagusta was paid down and Bishop Baldwin began the work in the same year on the 1st day of September, of which work six vaults and the two aisles had been completed and 10 vaults of the aisles and 8 vaults of the nave remained to be built.
(Walsh 2005: 4)
The cathedral of St. Nicholas is one of magnificent example of early 14th century Gothic architecture which seems quite similar with the cathedral at Rheims (see plate 4) . It constructed from a fine limestone, exudes a yellow/orange hue and presents chromatic warmth. The Cathedral has basically two identical gabled bell towers which contain a magnificent rose window at the centre. Each tower is four sided, containing mullioned windows in which the tracery has almost completely disappeared on all but the east side of the southern of the tower. However, the north tower has been extended into a minaret. Besides the masonry tracery is clear on the ground on the south side of the building. Today there is a wooden walkway in the interior of the southern tower but it is uncertain whether it is original or not. Back to the rose window, as I said above, it locates at the centre of the towers. It is also recognizable that the window is in Rayonnant Style which became popular at the end of 13th century until middle of the 14th century. If we look at the places of windows; it has perfect of six lights over the centre with a wheel in the tracery; and also above the side doors, there are long double light windows. In addition to this, it is clear that this window is divided into nine radiating compartments.
The exterior of the St. Nicholas Cathedral has three large doorways at the great west front, with straight-sided gabled canopies overhead. Apart from these, there are two Venetian columns and decorated with grey granite which most probably came from a public building at Salamis. In spite of the damage of the siege in 1571, we can still realize the Gothic details on the Cathedral. Those decorations still enough to gain information about their ideas. When we look at the apse, we see that east of this apse lies on a small ruined building which have served as the private chapel of the archbishop (Gunnis 1936: 93). On the south of the Cathedral wall, there are two small chapels and also there is a door near them but unfortunately it is blocked by the Turks after the conquest. However surprisingly on the one of the buttress, we see a part of inscription that I have point out at the beginning of this part, describes the construction of Cathedral by Bishop Bauduin in 1311.
In addition to these, to the right of the façade is an arched door and vaulted hall but unfortunately it contains a foundations for Moslem ablutions when it re-constructed as a mosque. Despite the fact that it is uncertain what was there before the Moslems, it has been suggested that it might have been an open-air grammar school supported by the Bishops of that period (Gunnis 1936: 94). Nevertheless, there seems decorated doorway on the north side and two circular windows with Venetian coat of arms on shields of white marble above.
When we look at the inside of St. Nicholas Cathedral, the structural emphasis is on the vertical. Those drawing of the worshippers’ eyes heaven ward on entering of the building. Then, into a fan which descends to meet five tall, there are double light windows in the apse. In the south side, there were some frescoes but again they could be seen hardly after the invasion of Turks.
The window design is another point that we must deal with. The original idea of the stained glass, pouring light, and color through the clerestory and rose window, recreating celestial Jerusalem adorned with Jewels, belong only the domain of imagination. Some believes light was central in theological terms following the dictum of St. John who said; I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life (Walsh 2005: 5).
3.4 SIMILAR ARCHITECTURE IN CYPRUS
Apart from the similar churches and cathedrals in the world, there are also some brother churches in Famagusta that carry similarity with St. Nicholas Cathedral. They might be seen forgotten but doubtless look still wonderful.
As a first brother church should be St. Sophia which share the same destiny with St. Nicholas with conversion into a mosque. It would be pretty hard to describe the original St. Sophia because of big destruction caused by earthquake but there still many facts proofing the Gothic architecture. The pointed tower which crowns the building is highly ornamental. Apart from this, it has a black stone which has Greek inscription on it and it is widely believed that it was a base of statue. On the other side there are two pillars at the near northwest of the church which are most probably belonging to Venetian era. Besides, we see a coffin with white marble which is decorated with Lyons head and festoons held by cupids (Cobham 1969: 255). It is fact that St. Sophia is a majestic Church which built in Gothic style and mixed with Venetian ornaments. The exterior of the church; the arches of the door and window being overtopped by a large triangle sculptured in high relief. When we look at the interior of the church, the dimensions of it are about120 feet by 90, and about 80 high (Cobham 1969: 434). It consist three aisles, divided by thick round columns which rising into arches. The recess for the altar is taking part at the top of the middle aisle. However just like St. Nicholas Cathedral, when it is converted into a mosque, the decoration been damaged or covered. Now the walls are naked and furnished with lamps and mats and also with pulpit. Nevertheless the church still accommodate a few tombs with inscriptions on it. Unfortunately these inscriptions are no longer legible.
One of her brother is St. George of Latin Church (see plate 5). Some believes that the church is not dated from the late 13th century but the common opinion is some time in 14th century or late 13th century. It is fact that though it may not belong to 13th century, it does still have considerable similarities with the cathedral of St. Nicholas. The important point is, this Church is qualifying as the most picturesque of the Famagusta Churches and is built in the best French style (Gunnis 1936: 103). It is clear that it has been a fortified church even would have been built before the city was walled round. Unfortunately, it is also thrown down by the earthquake but little remains save the north wall and the sacristy, which still retains its vaulting.
The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul (see plate 6) which is situating in Famagusta is also an example for Gothic architecture. According to story; it has been built by a merchant of the town during the reign of Peter I (1358-1369). It is a well-preserved with it Gothic facts, especially the north doorway is a good example of Gothic Architecture. It was decorated with coat of arms but unfortunately today it is already erased because the church was also used as a mosque for some time. Nevertheless its beauty is doubtless with flying buttresses that support the vaulting of the nave, though Gunnis (1936) qualifies this beauty with the words of ‘ugly and clumsy’. What we have today as a interior design is a few fragments of tombstones that lie on the floor and a wooden gallery stretches across the west end and connects the roof aisles.
Another similar architecture is belonging to Bellapais Abbey. It also has some similar facts with St. Nicholas Cathedral.
3.5 SIMILAR ARCHITECTURE ELSEWHERE
Of course there is not only Churches or Cathedrals in Gothic style but clearly they are the most recognizable between the others.
Tortosa has pastophoria of Byzantine form. It can be seen the apses are enclosed in rectangular masonry masses. Cleary Crusades left evidence of their art in many buildings. Tortosa Cathedral, has built within the fortified precinct that became the headquarters of the Templars.
It should known that the Cathedral of St. Nicholas has some similar architecture in the world. For instance, Walsh (2005) has quoted an idea in his article that it accepted as ‘The Daughter of Notre Dame of Reims’.
When we look at the Reims Cathedral, it is recognizable that its overall design is derives from Chartres and the deep radiating chapels are from St. Remi at Reims. Chartres Cathedral is generally considered to be the first High Gothic church, maybe that’s why all other Gothic style Cathedrals are comparing with them. Back to the Reims Cathedral, the windows are enormous as much as those on St. Nicholas. The west front, the north and south transept facades are all dominated by large rose windows. Besides, the Cathedral is quite rich in sculpture both inside and out. There are richly decorated portals to both transept facades and the west portals are covered with figure sculpture.
Comparison with St. Urbaine at Troyes, it might be a key to a great understanding; they both have a nave of 7 bays ending in a polygonal apses flanked by aisles ending in apsidal chapels of the same shape.
3.6 The cathedral art (sculpture in tomb stones)
On the other side, when we examine the inside of the Cathedral, the interior is still splendid, though its frescoes and paintings are damaged or hidden with whitewash by the Turks. Besides its altars and tombs have been swept away, those painted glass are broke or has gone from the windows
In regards to the tombstones, we see some medieval tombstones lie in the north aisle but again they have been damaged. Gunnis (1936) argued that; Perhaps one slab is still in situ, and that is the one commemorating Bishop Itier de Nabinaux, which lies in the apse of the north aisle. It is said this prelate died through a chill caught while bathing in the sea in 1365. Apart from this, in the south aisle we see a small chapel which could be a funeral chapel but today it is separated from the main building by the Turks. Nevertheless, it contains a tomb niche over which rises an arch of heavily carved design with a shield with a coat of arms (Gunnis 1936: 94).
4.0 Past 1571 History of St Nicholas
4.1 What has been done to Protect St. Nicholas up to Present Day
As I mentioned before Cyprus has always been strategically important in the Mediterranean Sea and many civilizations wanted to conquest it to obtain control over trade centres, if not for military purposes. For this reason Cyprus had always been an important island, having been carrying alongside with it lots of communities’ cultural traces. These traces we can term as ‘Cypriot Cultural Heritage’. Many of them disappeared or demolished since the time due to the presence of wars, due to natural occurrences as well as lack of restorative concerns on the protection of such heritage.
The cathedral of St. Nicholas (Lusignan originated), is a building of significant property with its strong resemblance with Gothic art (Keshishian 1985:52). This building, nonetheless, had been termed as “The Daughter of the Notre Dame de Rheims” due to its architectural resemblance to the finest of examples bearing mark of 14th century Gothic style (namely, English and some European cathedral styles) (Keshishian 1985:52). Lusignan kings used to attend their coronation within this cathedral. Unfortunately, this building suffered from damage caused by wars. Ottoman invasion rendered intolerance to the unique, yet Christian, furniture and ornamentations as opposed to the culture of Islam – hence, the cathedral was turned into a mosque (Keshishian 1985:52). “They tidied the interior”, notes Keshisian, “…and called it Ayia Sophia mosque…later on they patched it up and carried out sufficient restorations, completed it with a minaret” (Keshishian 1985:52). To the close proximity of where was the bishops’ palace stands two monoliths (of grey granite) that bears Venice art, even though their usual insignia could not be found to be present (Keshishian 1985:52). The lion near the Sea Gate,as was suggested, could have been one example of such - even though not proven.
Furthermore; another author forms a view on how Turkish army damaged some museum sites and monuments in Cyprus. Michael Jansen noted that UNESCO had assessed a week-long investigation on preservation and restoration of cultural property (Jansen 2005: 23). Places of significance had been visited in Famagusta, Kyrenia, Morphou, Paphos as well as Larnaca (offering a good overall look on the island). The assessment emphasized that “Kyrenia Castle and Lala Mustafa Pasa (St Nicholas) suffered slight damage and Paphos mosaics, bombed by the Turkish air force…, could [have been] restored” (Jansen 2005: 23). The remnants of ancient ship being on exhibiton within the Castle of Kyrenia had also been noted to be damaged due to lack of healthy air conditioning during the military assault in question. In conclusion, specialist supervision in conservation and restoration concerns had been seriously taken into consideration and thankfully a related appointment had taken place.
(Jansen 2005: 23)
On the other hand, when Ottomans managed to conquer Cyprus they preserved certain churches and cathedrals as well as added many interior and exterior parts to make these buildings possess related structural designs resembling those found in mosques (Hanworth 1994:135) . Hanworth indicated significant structural changes within the cathedral to allow conformity with Muslim religious practice, “thus the heavily furnished interior of a Gothic church which was designed for liturgical rituals and processions was emptied…to create the quite contemplative space of a Muslim hall of prayer” (Hanworth 1994:135). It should be noted that Deity emphasis is not of concern in Islam – the thing that matters is that the ‘home of Allah’ should be rather a practical ‘shelter’ for believers. We can give Selimiye Mosque (former St. Sophia) and Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque (former St. Nicholas) as perfect examples to the whole process (situated in Nicaosia and Famagusta, respectively). Ottomans, then, should be said to have preserved related structures regardless of the structural changes they imposed (addition of ‘mihrab’ is but one example). Muslim architects possessed great knowledge on fine geometric carving work, whether stone or wood – Arabahmet Mosque can be a good example at this point (Hanworth 1994:135). Segregation of women, though, was an important issue back then. Due to this necessity, “not only [women had] a particular portion of the mosque set aside for them, the Women’s Gallery, [it also] was usually elevated…so they might not be observed” (Hanworth 1994:135). Needless to mentions, addition of minarets did also take place – which are the sites of ‘call for prayer’, being towers of considerable height.
Furthermore; Keshishian referred what have been done the St Nicholas cathedral after Turkish came to Cyprus. He noted that;
The cathedral was damaged during the siege. After the fall of the town, the Turks wanted to use it as their principal mosque so they could not tolerate or make use of the old furniture and ornamentations in accordance with the concept of Islam. They therefore smashed and threw out everything in the cathedral with Christianity. They tidied the interior and held their service there and called it Ayia Sophia Mosque. Later on they patched it up and carried out sufficient restorations, completed it with minaret.
(Keshishian 1985:52 )
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