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Franks


Frankish Famagusta 1191-1489

During this period, Famagusta became the economic stronghold of the Lusignan dynasty and the largest transport station and distribution centre of western products to the east. It was also the busiest harbour and the most beautiful city in Cyprus. There are hundreds of thousands of descriptions in the travel accounts of Western pilgrims and travellers that record all the monuments and sites of the city, its economic activities and explain in detail the relation of Famagusta with the Syro-Palestinian coast.

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The Cathedral of St. Nicholas
The Church of St. George of the Greeks
The Church of St. George of the Latins
   
The Othello Tower

The Land Gate, the entrance to the mediaeval city
The Church of St. George Exorinos

The Ravelin
The Church of St. Peter and Paul The tower and the moat of Othello Castle
   

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The main entrance of the Cathedral of St. Nicholas (wrongly refered to as St. Sophia)

 

The Church of St. Anne Ruins of St. George of the Greeks
 
Map of the city from the book “Gothic Art and the Renaissance in Cyprus” by Camille Enlart, Translated and edited by Sir David Hunt, Trigraph Ltd Map of the city from the book “Gothic Art and the Renaissance in Cyprus” by Camille Enlart, Translated and edited by Sir David Hunt, Trigraph Ltd  

The topography of the city

Famagusta was one of the three Sees that were established by Amalrich in 1196, who was the brother of the founder of the kingdom of Cyprus, Guy de Lusignan. From descriptions and accounts it seems that in 1211 there were no walls around the city of Famagusta. However, the high point of the city occurred after the fall of Acre in 1291 when a large number of Christian refugees settled in Famagusta during the reign of Henry II (1285-1324). It is at this time that the great fortification works were undertaken. The harbour, castle, bastions and the tower on the islets closed off with a chain to protect the inner harbour, were all constructed at this time. The city was divided in two quarters; the Latin quarter in the north-eastern part of the city and the Orthodox quarter on the south-eastern edge of town. A central artery starting from the Land Gate crossed the Palace and central square and culminated at the Sea Gate, across the city.

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Detail from an icon showing the arrival of the crusaders. Byzantine Museum of the Makarios III Foundation. From the book “Icons of Cyprus” by Dr. Ahanasios Papageorghiou

Detail from an icon showing the arrival of the crusaders. Byzantine Museum of the Makarios III Foundation. From the book “Icons of Cyprus” by Dr. Ahanasios Papageorghiou

The genealogy of the Lusignans. Cultural Foundation of the Bank of Cyprus
 

The period 1300-1370 was undoubtedly the most glorious period of Famagusta. The cosmopolitan air of the city, vibrant with the merchant activities of western and eastern traders was full of life and riches. Its port became the main harbour for eastern trade, the main hub of all Mediterranean commercial traffic. More than 300 churches were built, including the famous gothic cathedral of St Nicholas where the kings of Cyprus, Armenia and Jerusalem were crowned. St George of the Latins – another landmark church, was another jewel in Gothic art. Through the financial contribution of Greek merchants, the church of St George of the Greeks was built, which is another spectacular example of an Orthodox cathedral as well as palaces and other impressive monuments. Fortification works around the harbour and walls also improved the city’s defences.
The peak of Famagusta’s glory and its commercial advantage was disrupted in the middle of the 14th century after the terrible epidemic of Black Death, but also due to conflicts of interests between Genoese and Venetians who had both been granted important commercial interests by the King. Both Genoese and Venetian communities lived on the island with unprecedented privileges allowing them to develop into an almost autonomous authority.

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St. Nicholas, North Section from the book “Gothic Art and the Renaissance in Cyprus” by Camille Enlart, Translated and edited by Sir David Hunt, Trigraph Ltd

 


St. George of the Greeks, transverse section, from the book “Gothic Art and the Renaissance in Cyprus” by Camille Enlart, Translated and edited by Sir David Hunt, Trigraph Ltd
 

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