The Nestorian Church in Famagusta, North Cyprus.
North Cyprus
North Cyprus > North Cyprus Guide > Famagusta > Sights > Nestorian Church
Karpas Peninsula
Karpas Peninsula
photo by: Kenan Erden
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The Nestorian Church

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The Nestorian Church in Famagusta, also known as the church of St George the Exiler, was one of 365 churches originally built within the walled city! Now only 17 remain, and most have survived either as ruins or by being used for other purposes.

The Frescoes of the Nestorian Church, Famagusta, Northern Cyprus

The Nestorian Church at Famagusta is a small, pretty church, with an unusual bell tower and a round rose window. A Syrian businessman called Francis Lakhas, one of two wealthy brothers, built the church during Famagusta's trading heyday in 1359. Lakhas decorated the inside with fine frescoes by Italian painters, traces of which still survive on the back wall. The Lakhas brothers certainly had money to spare; a famous tale tells of how one of them ground up a diamond over his food just to prove to his dinner guests how wealthy he was! It was also said that dust gathered from the church's floor and thrown into the home of an enemy would make them leave Northern Cyprus within a year. Hence the Greek Orthodox named the church after St George the Exiler.

The Nestorian Church in Famagusta today

It is hard to believe that this building, once the base of the Christian Nestorian community in Cyprus, fell into such disuse that it was used to stable camels.  However, the Greek Orthodox community adopted it, and was still in use as a Greek Orthodox church in Famagusta as recently as 1963. Now it is the Cultural Centre of the Eastern Mediterranean University, the main university on North Cyprus, and is used for Sunday services by the ex-pat community, with Communion held every fourth Sunday in the month.