CELEBRATING FAMAGUSTA ON WORLD HERITAGE DAY

Famagusta, Cyprus

In 2012–17, approx. 3 Million EURO of EUROPEAN UNION funding is being invested in Famagusta’s cultural heritage through UNDP Cyprus in support of projects identified by the bi-communal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage. A further €8.7 Million of EU funding was invested on other cultural heritage conservation projects island-wide to support the ongoing peace and confidence building efforts and bring Cypriots together around their shared heritage. In total, approximately €11.7 Million have been provided by the European Union through the Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community to implement the priorities of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage for the preservation of the island-wide cultural heritage in Cyprus. The European Union is the largest contributor to the work of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage in Cyprus.

Ravelin / Land Gate, Famagusta. It is an essential part of the walls of Famagusta and the main entry point for those arriving to the city from other parts of the island of Cyprus. It is a complex massive structure built into the living rock with many layers of history from the original Lusignan original tower to the Venetian Ravelin to the later changes by the Ottomans and finally British conservation efforts. It is formed by various levels of constructions, connected by small passageways, bridges and fosses and connected to the outside of the city across the fosse (at least on one side) by a bridge and drawbridge. Because of its importance and prominence as the main entry into Famagusta it receives many visitors. The conservation project started in February 2017 and will be completed in 11 months.

I don’t remember such a big investment of money being put into cultural heritage in this part of Europe, in a long time” observes Glafkos Constantinides, one of 12 members (6 Greek Cypriots and 6 Turkish Cypriots) of the bi-communal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage responsible for the selection of heritage sites to benefit from EU and UNDP supported conservation works islandwide.

Martinengo Bastion, Famagusta. Martinengo Bastion is a prime example of state of the art renaissance military architecture. This is in stark contract as its location at some distance from the centre of Famagusta provides a peaceful and secluded setting. Unfortunately, it seems unknown and unvisited by residents and visitors alike. This includes both the exterior and interior. The Bastion was created by the Venetian architect Giovanni San Michelle over a period covering almost 10 years. The Venetians realized that this corner of the Famagusta city defenses were weak and this structure was designed to strengthen the northwest corner. Access to the interior is through dual ramps designed to allow easy access for horses or and heavy munitions to supply the cannon in the interior. The conservation project started in July 2016 and will be completed in 9 months.

The walled city of Famagusta is at the crossroads of three continents. Famagusta is the easternmost city of Europe and the western most city of Asia. It is the city of empires, meeting and melting pot of many civilizations, cultures and religions. As the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, we believe that Famagusta can again become a unique center of multiculturalism, cooperation and peace for all. With this in mind, as the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, we will continue to do our utmost for the protection of cultural heritage monuments in Famagusta.” Says Ali Tuncay, Turkish Cypriot representatives of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, who was born and raised in Famagusta.

Othello Tower / Citadel, Famagusta. The Othello Tower/Citadel is an important monument in the history of Famagusta, Cyprus and the Mediterranean. Its importance and a sense of age and mystery are evident when one walks through the portals of the citadel — with the Lion of Venice still presiding after hundreds of years. The citadel consists of wall fortifications, connecting walls and four remaining towers (originally eight). These elements are in various states of decay from ruin to complete walls and rib vaulting. The monument comprises of two structures one inside the other. The outer Venetian fortifications that date from 1492 were constructed around the earlier Lusignan fortification from the 14th century. The Othello Tower / Citadel formed the key defensive position for the city of Famagusta at the apex of the city walls and the protector between the port and the sea. Othello Tower wasthe first project of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage to be implemented in Famagusta. Completed in July 2015, the Othello Tower/Citadel is now open to visitors.

Working together on Famagusta gives the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage the opportunity to develop a joint vision for the city.

Walls between Arsenal and Sea Gate. The Walls of Famagusta were famous throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. They were constructed over many centuries as the city grew, changed rulers and adapted to warfare technology. The walls are principally constructed of a rubble masonry core with sandstone ashlars facing held together with a variety of mortars. They are an important record of military architecture and adaptation to changing technology and rulers. There are few such fortifications still in existence and therefore the importance of protecting and conserving them.

Ravelin/Land Gate, Martinengo Bastion and the city-side portion of the Walls between Arsenal and Sea Gate are three of seven new projects that, thanks to EU and UNDP support, the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage is planning to carry out in Famagusta Walled City in 2017. The other projects are conservation works to: St. Mary Church of Armenians, St Mary Church of Carmel (Carmelite), St. Anne Church of Maronites, and the Mescit of Tabakhane/Tanner’s Mosque (Jacobite Church).

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