Destruction of monuments, archaeological sites and churches

Until 1974 186 Archaeological sites and Ancient Monuments were listed according to the Antiquities Law of the Republic of Cyprus.  The procedure of listing ancient monuments in the occupied part of Cyprus was interrupted in 1974 resulting in the non-inclusion of a large number of important monuments.  In 2006 the Council of Ministers decided the reevaluation of the procedure of listing ancient monuments in the occupied areas and this resulted in the inclusion of nine more churches and monasteries, augmenting the total number of listed ancient monuments to 195.  The listing of other monuments situated in the occupied areas of the island will continue so that the catalogue of these monuments will be the appropriate one.

According to the existing catalogue of ancient monuments in the occupied part of Cyprus, we have the following:

  • Archaeological sites and ancient cemeteries                   31
  • Churches                                                                                          96
  • Monasteries                                                                                    17
  • Muslim mosques                                                                            3
  • Bridges, houses of traditional architecture

and other buildings of public or private character                     37

  • Fortresses, towers and fortifications                                    11
  • Total                                                                                                195

Source:  Department of Antiquities, Republic of Cyprus


The situation today

Archaeological sites: The archaeological sites in the occupied areas did not undergo the necessary restoration works and in many cases the damage and negligence are obvious as for example is the case of the archaeological site of Enkomi. Moreover, in many cases the storerooms, where the finds from the excavations were kept, have been looted. The archaeological site at Gastria in Ammochostos was destroyed, as well as the archaeological sites at the cape Agios Andreas Kastros and the archaeological site of Galinoporni, both in Karpasia.

Ecclesiastical buildings: As regards churches and monasteries, which in total reach 113 edifices, the situation is really tragic. Together with all the churches of the villages, the cemeteries and all the chapels, which had not been declared as ancient monuments, have been completely looted. Especially movable objects like the iconostasis, the icons, the sacerdotal vestments, the books and all other material which was kept inside them were removed. Unfortunately, we have not a complete picture of all the buildings, as many of them cannot be reached, even after the opening of the barricades nearly five years ago.

In the occupied areas, in June 1974 there were around 520 churches, monasteries and chapels, which were transformed or destroyed, as follows:

Mosques                                                                   125

Stables, or hay warehouses                              67

Museums, cultural centres, hotels                57

Hostels, restaurants,
ammunition warehouses                                    17

Completely demolished                                      25

Desecrated                                                               229

Total                                                                            520

Source:  Republic of Cyprus