St George of the Greeks Church in Famagusta, North Cyprus.
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St George of the Greeks Church

St George of Greeks Church
St George of Greeks Church
photo by: Yeoman Paris
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It was once said that Famagusta had a church for every day of the year, but today there are rather less! However, it seems you can't turn a corner in this ancient walled city in North Cyprus without finding a church with a story to tell.

St George of the Greeks, Orthodox cathedral of Famagusta

St George of the Greeks was once the Orthodox cathedral of Famagusta, dedicated to St Epiphanios. The saint's remains were buried here originally, before being moved to Constantinople. Originally a 14th century Byzantine church, Gothic elements were added to the church’s north side to create a hybrid form of architecture that makes St George of the Greeks somewhat rare amongst Mediterranean churches, let alone churches in North Cyprus. The central nave has chapels on both sides, leading to a cross nave, all with rounded apses.

St George of the Greeks in the siege of Famagusta

However, time has not been too kind to the church, as its ruined state shows. The Turkish bombardment during the 1571 siege damaged much of the structure, and you can still see cannon ball marks on the top of the church. Little remains of its vaulted roof either, which was blown off in the siege of 1571. Earthquakes in Northern Cyprus during the 18th century also took their toll. There is another theory, which suggest that the alcoves in the walls provided for the tombs of the church's founders actually weakened its structure. So, the very people who helped build St George of the Greeks in Famagusta may have contributed to its downfall, literally!

Famagusta Video
video by: TRNC Ministry of Tourism
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The Ruins of St George of the Greeks, Famagusta

The impressive ruin is fun to wander around, as it sits in its own path of scrubby wasteland. Some fragments of wall painting still cling to the walls of the eastern apse, remains of a series of frescoes depicting the life of Christ. Look up and you'll see fragments of pottery jars set into the ceiling, which some suggest was to improve the acoustics. Today, it is a very atmospheric ruin to wander around; just take care not to trip over the piles of cannon balls!