• Denomination: Armenian Church

  • District: Nicosia

  • Town/Village: Nicosia

  • Category: Church

  • Religion: Christian

  • A.Monument: Yes

  • Ref#: 344

Description (Typology, Period, Actual Use)

Named Our Lady of Tyre,  it was the principal Carthusian convent in Nicosia, ca 1300 (Jeffery), also thought to have belonged to the Benedictine Order. It is referred to as an Armenian Church on Kitchener’s map of 1883 and as the Armenian Church of the BVM by Gunnis (Historic Cyprus:1947). Gunnis mentions that during the siege of 1570, the Armenians, who hated the proud Latins, assisted the Ottoman army and on their fall of Nicosia they were handed this church as a reward. No references have been found concerning the name of Agios Elephtherios provided for this current survey.  


            The French architecture of this building is ca 1303-1310 and must have originally been founded after the fall of Jerusalem and the  expulsions of all religious Orders from that city. The building remained unfinished because of a revolt of the Prince of Tyre. It is mentioned that the first building had been destroyed by an earthquake and was rebuilt by King Henry II (1285-1324).


              It consists of a plain nave with two bays and a semi-octagonal apse. There is also a west bay in front of the nave, with three porticos. According to Enlart, (…) the church was originally built to receive ribbed vaulting but was later roofed by a barrel vault with six ribs, supported by groups of three engaged colonettes (except for the four outside corners where they are single colonettes). On the exterior, there are three buttresses on either side. There are doorways on the west façade and one doorway on each side of the central bay. The abacus of the colonettes is linked by a continuous string course forming the windowsills of the north façade. The windows on the north façade take up the whole space between the string course and the vaulting. Lunettes are narrow and pierced by lancet windows, which are divided by a central mullion surmounted by a quatrefoil in a circle. The choir windows have upper tracery composed of two trefoils surmounted by a quatrefoil. The south façade has been altered and possesses one narrow pointed window. The window in the choir has been built up. The profile moulding of the arches of the vaults is composed of a slender  taurus outlined by cavettos, which have been deformed, as have the bases, by plastering. Two northwest bays in the form of a cross-vaulted cloister have been rebuilt of a later date. They are cross-vaulted, plastered and painted in pale sienna. Along the back wall  is a funerary monument, which has been arranged as an outside altar. (Gunnis mentions this as the tomb of Eschive D’ Ampierre).


             The stonework of the central doorway is from an older building and has been re-used in its current newer location. The doorjambs are pilasters whose inner angles are decorated with colonettes with independent shafts. The capitals of the doorway are carved with elaborate foliar motifs including oak leaves. These have also been deformed by painting. The tympanum over the lintel has been altered, with a metal grille and a window in place of the massive stone lintel closed over it with dressed ashlar. The medieval wooden doors, unique examples of medieval woodwork,  have been drawn by Enlart. It is also mentioned by Jeffery in 1905, as having been removed from its place and kept in another part of the church.


             Traces of stained glass on the South East quatrefoil according to  Gunnis is of a later date 9according to Jeffery, ca 1900).  A newer bell tower has been surmounted over the west lancet window of the apse.


              Three carved Cypriot marble funerary plaques in low relief,(Gunnis and Jeffery mention a number of plaques in situ inside the nave in the floor) have been removed from their original place and have been left leaning against the wall in the exterior cloister. The tombstones have been published by TC Chamberlayne  in 1894.


The building is one of the most interesting of medieval monuments in Nicosia. It has been supported by temporary scaffolding but essentially in a dire condition and is in urgent need for restoration or at least earnest mothballing.

General Conditions

Structure: Ruin

Facade: Ruin

Roof: Ruin

Interior: Fair

Decoration: Good

Mass: Limited Addition

Humidity: Dangerous

Comments:

Building Materials

Technical Details/Materials Used

Walls: Dressed stone

Roof: Barrel vault, cross barrel vault over north nave

Floors: Soft white marble tiles/cement

Doors: Newer, panelled

Windows: Trefoil & quadrefoil tracery, glass missing

Interior

Icons: No

Hagiography: No

Michrap: No

Small Signs: No

Architect Plans

Architect Plans: No

Cadastral Elements: Kitchener 1883 Map

Proposed Protection Measures

Requires mothballing,consolidation,restoration.