Some Selections from the Archbishop Makarios III Byzantine Musem in Nicosia, Cyprus

On the Greek side of Cyprus’s divided capital, Nicosia, there is a Byzantine Museum within the palace complex of the archbishop (see here), containing art works from the 9th century to the 19th.

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I figured that my loyal reader(s) might want to see some selections of what’s in there as of 2016.

Interestingly, many of the works in here have come from churches in the northeastern part of the country, which, depending on whom you ask, is either the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or the Turkish-occupied section of Cyprus. Sadly, these were largely looted and stripped from these churches and sold, often abroad, before being repatriated.

As it would make little sense to send them back to their places of provenance, they are displayed here. In one particular case, the veneer of a small, looted chapel is almost completely reconstructed onto specially-shaped walls of the museum.

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This is an example of a mosaic stripped and stolen from northern Cyprus, from the Church of the Panagia tis Kanakarias in Lythrankome. It was repatriated in 1991.

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And here’s a fun medieval St. Mamas, who is always pictured on a lion. If you went almost directly west from Nicosia and ended up in the town of Morphou, you’d find the Monastery of St. Mamas. (Morphou is across the Green Line, and the Turks call it Güzelyurt, which literally means “pretty tent” and makes me smile a little.) According to a Cypriot legend, the hermit Mamas lived in Morphou. He refused to pay taxes, and despite being pursued by the authorities was eventually exempted from taxation after he tamed a lion and rode it into the town square. Frankly, this man is my hero.

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This is St. Nicholas, a late-13th century altarpiece from Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis, which I’ll write about later in detail. There’s still plenty there to see.

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I really like this piece, though I suppose it has seen better days. As the sign indicates, it was taken from the Church of the Panagia Faneromeni (see here), which is a stone’s throw away in Nicosia. I believe the church there now is late-18th century, but it was built atop an older church that was there from the Byzantine period.

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Here’s a St. Peter, from the Panagia Chrysaliniotissa in Nicosia (here). It dates to the 14th century.

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I personally love this one. It’s Christos Enthronos, Megas Archiereus, or Christ the High Priest, enthroned with St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom flanking him. It’s a 16th century piece from the Church of St. Luke in Nicosia.

In case you’re interested in a visit, it has short and somewhat odd hours, and of course those hours are different between the museum, gallery, and library. It’s worth seeing though, so check out the hours and more information here: https://www.cyprusisland.net/cyprus-museums-galleries/byzantine-museum-archbishop-makarios-iii 

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