Authorities in the Republic know about the hundreds of religious artefacts stored by Turkish Cypriots in the Kyerinia castle, but there is no record of the items or their numbers, an antiquities department official said on Wednesday.
Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency, antiquities curator Giorgos Philotheou said the department knew of the artefacts that a Turkish Cypriot newspaper reported on last Sunday.
“Our information is that a large number of icons have been assembled in a large hall in the castle,” he said.
Philotheou said it was good that they were all in a protected place but the conditions were not ideal since it was surrounded by sea.
The curator said the items were the property of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.
He said it was everyone’s duty to safeguard cultural heritage, which belongs to all the Cypriot people, and expressed hope a solution could be found through the technical committee on cultural heritage.
Turkish Cypriot daily Havadis reported on Sunday that hundreds of religious artefacts worth millions have been kept in unsuitable conditions under lock and key in the Kyrenia castle since 1974, when they were removed from Greek Orthodox churches in the wake of the Turkish invasion.
It also said that no one knew the exact number of artefacts stored there and that thefts had taken place in the past.