Cyprus Mail

‘Remove obstacles to historic monuments’, religious leaders say

Photo of Ayios Iakovos church taken last October for Europa Nostra by Roman Robroek

The leaders of the five main religious communities of Cyprus on Thursday called on the island’s two leaders, President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, to discuss in their meeting on February 26, ways to “remove all obstacles” to the restoration of historic monuments in the Nicosia buffer zone.

“We renew our joint plea since 2014 for the urgent need to appropriately reinforce and restore not only the historic monument of St James but also St George, both found in the Green Line,” the statement said.

In view of the collapse of part of the medieval church of Ayios Iakovos (St. James) inside Nicosia’s Green Line last week, the religious leaders said its “destruction disrespects our shared religious and cultural heritage.” They called for all places of worship to be respected, cared for, protected, and restored.

On Wednesday, the Technical Committee for Cultural Heritage, which assumed responsibility of preserving the medieval monuments in March 2017, announced that works will soon start for the church’s restoration.

Torrential rains over the past few weeks had caused the collapse of the bell tower and part of the wall of the derelict 10th century church in a hard-to-reach area, which is under the control of the Turkish military.

The church, according to historian Dr Nasa Patapiou was an episcopal seat of the Maronites during the 16th century. According to written testimonies, the church was a Maronite cathedral as early as the 15th century.

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