It is with great regret that the Association of Cypriot Archaeologists is forced to intervene in the year 2013 regarding an issue that in European and other countries is now deemed a given, viz. the rational management of cultural heritage with respect and compliance with national and European laws, as well as the policies and practices followed internationally. Specifically, we refer to the issue of the management of the Venetian Walls in Nicosia, which are known to be the most important monument of the city.
Unfortunately the Mayor of Nicosia himself seems that, despite the strong opposition, the written instructions of the competent authority, viz the Department of Antiquities, and in violation of the terms of the lease agreement of the fortifications to the Municipality of Nicosia, attempts to unilaterally and illegally creating a parking atop the Caraffa bastion and within the corresponding part of the moat. It is considered important to note that the aforementioned bastion and the surrounding area is one of the few spaces in the city where one may see the Venetian fortifications of Nicosia in largely their original form.
Beyond the illegality of the action itself, it is also against the declared policy and the objectives set by the State for the consolidation and retrieval of fortifications in order to highlight the Walls as a monument of paramount importance in the daily life of the city. Moreover this action damages, ignores and circumvents altogether the efforts of the Department responsible for protecting and promoting the Venetian Walls, which over time have been altered and degraded in a multitude of ways that to an extent have seriously hampered the legibility of the monument and in some cases renders it nearly “invisible”.
The Venetian walls of Nicosia is a pole of attraction for residents and foreign travelers to the city and is also the hallmark of the city itself. Any interventions should not be enforced arbitrarily and without planning. On the contrary they should form part of a central city reformation plan and come about with the approval of the competent authorities, the guidance of proper legislation and best international practices, as well as the needs of the residents of the city.
Taking a look at the Venetian fortifications of Nicosia, we can imagine how other historical towns in the world would look so much different, if the local authorities did not demonstrate the necessary sensitivity and respect for their history and monuments. Towards this direction of acknowledging and understanding the importance of preserving historical fortifications, the Association of Cypriot Archaeologists has organized a workshop where many cases of other preserved fortified cities were presented. The minutes of this colloquium have been recently released in a joint publication with the Cultural Foundation of the Bank of Cyprus.
The Association of Cypriot Archaeologists invites all the involved authorities and especially the Nicosia Municipality to demonstrate the necessary respect to the laws of the State and not to engage in actions that will result in further deterioration of the fortifications of Nicosia.
Board of Directors Association of Cypriot Archaeologists