By Evie Andreou
Bellapais Abbey could collapse unless nearby works for the construction of a sewage treatment reservoir stop, civil engineers said on Tuesday.
“Damage or collapse of the Abbey will be a crime not only against Cyprus’ cultural heritage but of world cultural heritage,” their association (SPOLMIK) said in a statement.
The abbey of Bellapais is a special and rare archaeological monument, it said, one of the most important remaining examples of gothic monasterial architecture in the eastern Mediterranean.
“We will cooperate with Turkish Cypriot civil engineers and we plan on going there this week to see what is going on,” said Varnavas Lambrou, general secretary of SPOLMIK.
He added that the foundations of centuries’ old monuments are fragile and in this case due to its location, on top of a hill facing a cliff, any intervention could disturb the terrain the building stands on.
“There could be problems due to digging or corrosion,” Lambrou said.
He said if they detect a problem, they will ask that works stop or for protective measures to be taken, such as retaining walls.
“Anything that happens in the north we are worried about because we have no control of; in the south we can interfere in cases we believe construction works can do damage but not in the north,” Lambrou said.
The 13th century monument located a few kilometres from Kyrenia was built by Aimery de Lusignan at the end of the 12th and early 13th century and was first inhabited by an Augustinian religious order that had fled Jerusalem in 1187 after its fall to Saladin. Additions were made in the 13th and 14th centuries.
By Evie Andreou