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CULTURAL  LIFE

v     The Flood Festival (Kataklysmos) was a permanent yearly celebration with both a religious as well as a trading character.

v     The Athletic Organisation of “Anorthosis” which was founded in 1911 and was very active in social and national issues organized various events and celebrations. It coordinated a mandolin orchestra, organized evening classes, seminars, lectures, while at the same time contributed substantially to athletic life.

v     Around 1919 we see the development of the first amateur theatrical associations.

v     Many events were presented by the Philanthropic Association as well as the “Greek Club”

v     In 1930 we see the founding of the fist Women’s association in Cyprus which was housed in its own magnificent building, a generous donation by its founder, Maria P. Ioannou. Women’s Lyceum presented many theatrical plays, often in ancient Salamis, created the first women’s mandolin orchestra, provided Sunday classes to illiterate women, organized evenings with music and poetry, concerts and Literature Gatherings and even created a Children’s Theatrical Stage. Even though the early 20the century was a difficult time for the development of women’s organizations and the Women’s Lyceum had to face incredible economic difficulties as well as social prejudice, this organization contributed greatly to the cultural advancement of the city.

v     The Orange Festival was organized once a year, honouring the most important produce of the city. Public places were decorated with thousands of oranges in a variety of presentations, while four wheeled chariots again decorated with oranges paraded through the city. The City Philharmonic was always there, as in other events and celebrations.

v     The Flower Festival (Anthesteria) was also a tradition celebrating flowers at the beginning of Spring.

v     The Folkloric Feast was another established yearly event.

v     The Educational Institutions also contributed to the advancement of cultural life in Ammochostos through their activities. In particular the A´ High School of Ammochostos had a very rich cultural activity with all the ancient tragedies presented like Ifigeneia, Oedipus Tyrant, Medea, in the ancient theatre of Salamis.

v     In 1974, the Municipal Library had 17,000 books including some very rear 16the century books about Cyprus as well as old maps and stamps.

v     The Municipal Gallery operated since 1959. In 1974, the Gallery had in its possession 150 paintings, mainly by Cypriot Artists and a few by famous Greek Artists like Spyros Basiliou, Fotis Kontoglou, Hatjikyriakos – Gikas, Yiannis Tsarouchis, and others. There were also 35 aquarelles presenting Medieval Ammochostos, and 380 sketches and paintings by Michalis Hatjidemetriou.

 

Historical Monuments in Ammochostos

The medieval, within the walls, city of Ammochostos is a monument in itself. Unfortunately, since 1963/4 the medieval city was closed and inaccessible to the Greek Cypriots of the island, and for this reason it is nigh impossible to know today in what   condition its many interesting and once magnificent constructions are.

            The Fortification Walls and particularly the Othello Tower, the Martinego bulwark, the Ravelin bastion as well as the Gate to the Sea and the Gate to the Mainland are splendid monuments of military architecture and particularly interesting both on the inside and from outside.

Within the walled city, the most imposing construction is St. Nicholas Cathedral, a construction of the 14th century. Many brilliant coronation ceremonies of Cypriot kings and kings of Jerusalem were enacted in this Cathedral during the Frankish period. St. Nicholas Cathedral was turned to a mosque during Ottoman occupation.

            Many churches like that of St. George of the Greeks, St. George of the Latins, St George Xorinos (also known as St. George of the Nestorians), the Carmelite church, the church of St. Francis, as well as that of St. Peter and Paul are of a particular interest. St. Symeon church is also very interesting as it is the oldest construction of the city, dating back to the 13th century. Its building was at a later stage attached to the more extensive church of St. George of the Greeks. The main Byzantine churches of the 14th century are those of Ayia Zone, and the Archangel, as well as the church of the Armenians.  According to tradition, during the Frankish period, there were 365 churches in Ammochostos.

            Another interesting monument in the medieval city is the Palazzo del Proveditore at the cathedral plaza, as well as many private buildings and houses.

 

In the modern part of the city, the part outside the walls, we could find:

v     The Chrysospeliotissa church in Kato Varoshia which was carved on a rock, dating back to the 14th century – a place of worship for both Orthodox and Latin people until the end of the Ottoman empire.

v     The underground church of St. Cathernine.

v     The churches of St. Nicholas and Ayia Zone which were erected during the Ottoman period.

v     Other churches like that of Stavros (The Holy Cross), St. Paraskeve, St. Loucas, Ayios Memnon, and St. John of Skouranthas. It’s worth mentioning that the majority of the churches in the new part of the city bear the same name as those in the medieval city.

v     The district museum in (28th October st.,).

v     The Municipal Library and Gallery (16, June st.,).

v     The Central Park in front of the A´ Gymansium (High School), with lakes and fountains together with a stage for the city Philharmonic orchestra.

v     Private houses of unique interest architecturally, e.g. …………………………………………………………………..

v     The private archaeological collection of Christakis Hatjiprodromou

v     The private library of Marangos

v     St. Varnabas monastery . St. Varnavas is the founder of the Cypriot Church. He was born in Ancient Salamis and the Church of Cyprus celbrates his name day on the 11th of June. The monastery itself is built very near Ancient Salamis, a few kilometers outside Ammochostos. The white bearded monks, three brothers, Chariton, Varnavas and Stefanos, dedicated their lives to the Saint and for years they received and offered hospitality to every pilgrim. The initial temple was built by Anthemios, a Bishop of Constantia who was visited in his dream by the Saint, and was shown the exact spot where the Saint was buried. There he built a basilica around 345 A.D.

v     The archaeological site of Salamis with the most prominent monuments of the gymnasium, the theatre, the St. Epiphane basilica, the market, Zeus’ Temple and the necropolis with the royal tombs.

v     The archaeological site of Engomi

 

In the Ammochostos district, we can find the following archaeological monuments and sites:

 

v     The Neolithic settlement at Kastros, near Apostolos Andreas cape, and the middle bronze era settlement in Kalopsida.

v     The castle dating back to the middle bronze era, at Nitovikla in the Carpass peninsula.

v     The settlement of Melissa at Flamoudi.

v     The Mycenaean necropolis at Angastina in the Mesaoria area.

v     The necropolis at Alsas, in Gastria village.

v     The necropolis in Platani, at Rizocarpaso, in Ayios Theodoros and Koma toy Yialou.

v     The Hellenistic period necropolis in Vokolida, in Trikomo and Akanthou

v     The basilica of Ayia Trias in the Carpass peninsula.

v     The Byzantine churche of Panayia Kanakaria in Lythrangome.

v     The private houses of Evangelos Louizou and Hatjikonstantis Kepertis in Famagusta

 

 

THE  DESTRUCTION  OF  AMMOCHOSTOS  CULTURAL  HERITAGE 

Immediately upon the invasion and occupation of Cyprus by Turkish army forces, Turkey ignored all regulations and responsibilities as outlined in the 1954 Hague Agreement. Neither have international conventions such as UNESCO’s 1970 convention “on the means for prohibiting and preventing the illegal importation and transport of ownership of cultural property”, nor UNESCO’s 1980 resolution on Cyprus were able to detain Turkey from destroying our rich cultural heritage.  With a view to changing the cultural identity of the island and remove all traces of Cypriot history,  Turkey herself proceeded or allowed foreign visitors to proceed to looting, trading and destruction of the rich cultural heritage of the Cypriot people.  

Churches constitute the most obvious and recognizable symbols of the cultural identity of Cyprus and have therefore been subjected to the most violent and systematic assault. 

 The Monastery of Apostolos Varnavas (Saint Varnavas) has been stripped of its icons (around 150 icons). This monastery was built during the 5th century. The Byzantine church of Apostolos Varnavas dates back to the 12th century and was founded on the ruins of a basilica dating back to the first Christian years. This church is considered the holliest Christian site in Cyprus. Apart from the icons, the church has been stripped of all holy service sacraments. 

Four sets of mosaics have been stolen from the church of Kanakaria in occupied Lynthrangomi, which ended up in the hands of an American art dealer. Aftwer a US court ruling these were returned to their legal owner, the Church of Cyprus. 

The monastery of Theotokos in Kythrea had the same fate. The church of Ayios Andronikos in occupied Kythrea, has been looted and consequently destroyed by Turks. The Byzantine church of  Panayia in Trikomo village, the church of Ayios Themonianos near Lysi, the church at Prasteio, the church of Panayia Eleousa at Rizokarpaso (a 15th century church with gothic features),  have been looted and their  icons are missing.  The Turks have turned the church at Prasteio into cinema, while that at Komi Kepir into public lavatories. The basilica at Ayia Triada in the Karpass peninsula with a mosaic floor dating back to the 5th and 6th century, is being used as a goat and sheep sty.  

The following churches in the District of Ammochostos have been turned to mosques:

v     The church of Ayios Nikolaos at Limnia

v     The church of Ayios Loukas in the city of Ammochostos

v     The church of Ayia Paraskevi in Lapethos,

v     The church of Archangel Michael in Yialousa

v     The church of Engomi

v     The two churches in Kythrea

v     The church of Archangel Michael in Koma toy Yialou

v     The church in Tavrou

v     The church in Vathylakas

v     The church of Ayios Andronicos in the village of Ayios Andronikos

v     The church of Archangel Michael in Lefkoniko

v     The church of Ayios Dimitrios in Leonarisso

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