Not far from where my uncle and aunt live, there is a monastery dedicated to Our Lady from Macedon, Panagia Makedonitissa. The monastery has given its name to the suburb.
During the 1974 invasion, a Greek military aircraft did not identify itself in time, and was shot down by friendly fire here.
The site is now a military cemetery for the Greece Greek and Greek Cypriot dead from 1974. With graves for the recovered dead, and inscriptions for those subsequently identified through DNA.
If you do an extreme zoom, you will notice a sign with a cedar tree. That is as much as I could get while zooming past of the Maronite precinct of Nicosia.
The Maronites are Arabic speaking Catholics who mostly live in Lebanon, but a group of them have been living in Cyprus for centuries, around the town of Kormakitis. Some of them have moved to Nicosia, and their church and Village Association are on this street.
Cypriot Arabic has the surprising distinction of being the hardest dialect of Arabic for other Arabic speakers to understand. Massive influence from Greek. Sadly, now moribund: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cypriot_Arabic speakers are switching to Greek. Which, given Vatican II, means their mass is celebrated in vernacular Greek.
Presumably Standard vernacular Greek and not Cypriot vernacular Greek. Some Bridges are too far even for Vatican II.
For a Greece Greek, the use of dialect in this graffiti is adorable. The thing is though, Cypriots don’t write graffiti in dialect to be adorable, they write it because that is their language.
Ναι + ναι = ναι
Ναι + όι = όι
Ναι + εμμ = όι
Yes + yes = yesYes + no = noYes + maybe = no
They’re let down by Greek script btw: that’s Turkish hem for “maybe”, and I’m reasonably sure they pronounce the h. Telltale blot at the start of the word.
Left as a thought exercise:
Aye + aye = ayeAye + nae = naeAye + mibbie = nae
Famagusta Gate, the major gate through the formidable Venetian fortifications around the old town.
Famagusta Gate is in disarray, and I do not understand why. It should be far enough from the Green Zone for that not to be an issue.
Rather less imposing than Famagusta Gate in the city walls, and a lot closer to the Green Zone, Paphos Gate.
The All-Cyprus High School and its associated Library, both founded 1812.
Museum of the Liberation Struggle—or as it is more commonly termed in English, the Cyprus Insurgency. Cyprus went through its nation-building and decolonisation rather late for the European neighbourhood it wishes to be part of, which means it is not as jaded about that kind of thing as most parts of Europe are.
Most of the street names here in the old town pay homage as you would expect to Greek antiquity and Orthodoxy, but Shakespeare, possibly via British colonialism comma gets a walk on heart here. This is Othello St.
Dysdaimona St is nearby.
Yes, of course the Greeks corrected the etymology of the name.
The archbishopric of Cyprus, where the “Big Mak” statue used to be, as a threat to pursuing cars, now replaced by a downsized version in marble. Archbishop Makarios’ limos are also parked outside.
As with everything else in this precinct, I was struck by how quiet all is, although it was high siesta time on a hot day.
My uncle Savvas used to serve in Makarios’ presidential guard. (Other trips downtown made him reminisce about being arrested, hands to the wall, during the 1974 coup, and imprisoned right up until the Turkish invasion.)
He is not a fan of the downsizing.
The old Toufexis Mansion, now the cultural centre of Cyprus University. There was something disconcerting about hearing a minimalist piece being rehearsed on piano, here in a district tying its hardest to be a ghost town.
There are a lot of Russians in Cyprus nowadays, and they make their presence known on the finger daubed graffiti of dusty windows in the ghost town, as well. Top of the picture, Andrei loves Nastya, and Vanya loves Masha.
I’m afraid I simply can’t tell which abandoned mosque on the Greek side of Old Nicosia this is. From the location, this should be the Ömeriye, but the street name does not match (and Google thinks it is on the other side of town), and the Ömeriye is supposed to be more open to the public than this looks.
The church of Panagia Chrysaliniotissa, possibly “Our Lady of the Golden Thistles”, 15th century—and as with everything else in this district, not terribly far from the barbed wire of the Green Zone
The Church of St Cassian. (Wikipedia: “This church is modern (1854) with many fragments of a more ancient building inserted in its walls.”) Cypriots pay this church a lot of attention because, like Our Lady of the Golden Thistle, it is right next to the Green Zone.
This also turns out to be the only Greek church dedicated to this particular Saint, who has had the misfortune of his feast day being on February 29th. As a result, there are several folk stories in circulation about how this particular Saint was somehow delinquent enough to have being punished, with his feastday being commemorated only once every 4 years.
The Cathedral of St Barnabas. Looking just as you would expect the cathedral of the Church of Cyprus should look.
St Anthony’s Church, Old Nicosia.
The old town of Nicosia, much too close to the Green Zone and mostly abandoned for decades, is a resource the city has been much too slow to modernise and promote. My cousin Foula has recommended Erma [“Ballast”] cafe-cum-bookshop, built in the old grand sandstone style, and it is utterly charming.
It is also utterly quiet, there is very little going on here in the daytime, although apparently there is a little bit of nightlife.
Old Nicosia town is picturesque and pretty much abandoned.
I presume the mural, with St European Union holding the decapitated head of Cyprus in a platter, is not altogether sympathetic to the European project.
The mountaintop of Troodos was a religious site long before Makarios chose to be buried here: it is Throni tis Panagias, the Throne of Our Lady, site where the icon of the Virgin Mary was miraculously discovered, which Kykkos Monastery was built around of 1000 years ago.
(And yes, as I discussed at length with my old schoolmate Konrad Talmont-Kaminski, that kind of thing happens a lot in Orthodox tradition.)
The walkway up to the Shrine has been refurbished in the past couple of decades, with disconcertingly bright new mosaics of sundry Saints signposting the way. Including St John Lampadistes, fresh from Kalopanayiotis. Fresh-faced too.
The final mosaics, in the doors of the Shrine itself of the Throne of Our Lady, date from 2017, and the alcove of Saints leading up to it, looking decidedly Late Western Roman Empire, were put up in the decade leading up to it.
It is opulent, and it is showy, and it is definitely not understated. I have heard dark muttering about Russian money and Russian piety contributing to making the shrine look like it does.
But it is a fit for 2020s Cyprus. For better or worse.