Thursday, 6 December 2007

Cyprus: eternally Greek

This video was originally shown at My Greek Odyssey, and consists of a slideshow of photographs taken in the free and occupied areas of Cyprus in 2006.

In April 2003, the Turkish army eased crossing restrictions to the occupied areas and many Greeks ethnically cleansed from northern Cyprus in 1974, not having seen their homes, land, churches and villages in 30 years, made the pilgrimage to a life denied them, what was and what might have been, but found no solace in the journey only more heartbreak as they saw first hand the systematic Turkish attempt to obliterate Cyprus’ past and memory and crudely reinvent the island.

Anyway, the first pictures are from the occupied areas, beginning with Pentadaktylos mountain; then there is the monastery of Apostolos Varnavas – containing the tomb of Cyprus’ patron saint – prior to 1974, a major place of pilgrimage for the Orthodox faithful, but which the Turks have now turned into a museum; then there are photos of the looted and desecrated churches of Agia Marina and Agios Therissos in the village of Yialousa, in the remote Karpas peninsular, followed by images of the desecrated cemetery of Yialousa; then there are images of the sea around the church of Agios Therissos.

(Agios Therissos or Thirsos, is a local saint, who during the period of the Arab raids was Bishop of Karpasia and became renowned for his leadership of the faithful in those times of foreign invasion and depredation.

(After the island was freed from the Arab threat and returned to the Byzantine fold by Nikephoras Phokas, Therissos resigned from the bishopric and became a hermit-monk, though this did not diminish his popularity among the faithful in Karpasia who visited him for guidance.

(After the monk’s death, near the site of his hermit cave, a church was built, the ayiasma/holy water from which soon became associated with miracles, curing, in particular, those suffering from skin disorders.

(For the miracle to happen, a supplicant would first wash with the ayiasma and then wash again with seawater – the photos show the spot near Ayios Therissos’ church where the faithful would immerse themselves in the sea).

The church of Agia Triada is next and is one of the few Christian monuments in northern Cyprus which has not been vandalised or destroyed and serves the 120 or so enclaved Greeks, who despite daily pressure and harassment from the occupation regime and Turkish settlers refuse to leave the village of Agia Triada.

The next pictures are of the monastery of Apostolos Andreas, the most important religious shrine in Cyprus, followed by images of the pristine wilderness of Cape Apostolos Andreas at the northeastern-most tip of the island, though the Turks are now planning to build marinas and luxury hotel complexes in the area.

After passing through the Turkish army checkpoint, we are back in the free areas of the island and the Troodos mountains, ancient Kourion in Limassol, the Paphos mosaics and the Tombs of the Kings, also in Paphos.

The music is Evridiki singing a rocked up version of the traditional Cypriot folk song, Tessera gai Tessera.

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