Bare Ruined Choirs

Soon after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the roof of St. Andronikos church in Kythrea caved in and fell into its sanctuary. No one came by to clear the rubble, so there’s a heap of ruins on the ground covered with tangled greenery. From where I stand, on top of that heap, I can see that the walls, once known for their frescoes, have been stripped white and are now marked with black and neon graffiti. In some places there remain a few painted figures, including ones of Saints Peter and Paul, but their faces are chiseled out and their bodies have been pockmarked by bullets. Cars roll by every so often, but the one persistent sound is the hum of bees coming from a smashed clerestory window.

I came across this church off a road near the Agios Dimitrios crossing point on the Green Line, the boundary running through the island of Cyprus and keeping it cloven in two radically disparate parts: the free, government-controlled area of Cyprus, and the upper third of the sovereign territory of the Republic that Turkey seized in 1974. Turkey has since held that part under illegal military occupation, and turned it into a rogue breakaway “state” called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognized by Turkey only.

Dilapidated churches like St. Andronikos are a common sight here. As the journalist Michael Jansen observes, the north, full of 12,000 years of history at a key crossroads in the Mediterranean, now looks like a “cultural wasteland.”

Read the rest here Bare Ruined Choirs


  1. cynthia curran :

    This church by its design seems about 4th to 6th century. Its more of the older Bascilia design.(sorry for misspelling). I believe that the Turks don’t have the interest for this. But even in Istantibul, there are lots of ruin buildings from Byzantine times or earlier which are apart of the new subway system, and some interesting things have been discovered like ships from the 300’s. I can understand in their own country why they would prefer the subway to collecting all the old ruins. Anyway, Cyprus doesn’t appear to be much interest to them when it comes to old ruins. This is my rule, if modern buildings or instructure are not built on top of ruins, then you should try to preserve them.

  2. cynthia curran :

    This is not related to Cyprus but in in Jerusalem, the Byzantine period street dating back to the 6th century was uncover and there is a large cistern that could stored water for 40,000 people. Also, the famous Madaba map that shows anicent Isreal sites was correct where the street was. The ma is in a Byzantine Church in Madada.

Care to Comment?