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Monks, soldiers and thieves by BricksandStones Monks, soldiers and thieves by BricksandStones
This is the desolated church of Our Lady of the Wormwood called Panagia Absinthiotissa in Greek, located in the northern part of Cyprus ruled by the Turkish authorities. It was probably constructed in the Byzantine period, around the 12th C. as a religious centre of a large Orthodox monastery which continued to function under catholic crusader and the Venetian rules. In later years, when Cyprus was conquered by the Ottoman Empire the site was abandoned and left as a ruin until the 19th century when art historians visited in for the first time and recorded its surviving treasures. Among them was for example a tombstone of a Venetia lady who probably supported the Orthodox monks financially and in exchange was allowed to be buried in their church. The ruined church and surrounding monastic structures were thoroughly restored and reconstructed in 1960s when Cyprus obtained independence and Orthodox monks were invited to live in Panagia Absinthiotissa once again. It was a big project at a time but its success was short-lived. When inter-communal violence broke on Cyprus and the Turkish Army invaded the island in 1974 the monks were expelled and fled south. After Turkish soldiers left the site, the church and its nearby refectory remained unprotected and open to thieves who stripped it of everything which could be of any value and destroyed the rest. All that is left today are bare walls stripped of frescoes and covered with modern graffiti...The whole building is full of filth, empty bottles, cans, toilet paper etc. but still, to my mind at least, it represents an important monument, worthy of interest, care and another restoration.
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:iconsyltorian:
Syltorian Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2015
Great capture! The Church and the landscape behind it are fantastic. What a tragedy that it is taken over by vandals!
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2015
I think you would like Cyprus a lot - there are numerous Roman, Greek and gothic monuments there, frescoes and mosaics have been stolen but bare walls themselves can still preserve some beauty, plus in Famagusta there are some Syrian frescoes preserved! If only the political situation on the island would be better - there was a chance for unification few years ago but it failed....Still, thank you for the comment, as always - I appreciate it!
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:iconsyltorian:
Syltorian Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2015
Thanks for the tip. Cyprus sounds very interesting indeed. Sad about the political situation, naturally.
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:icontokslinas:
tokslinas Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2014
...story.. and great compose.Thanks.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014
I am glad this caught your attention - thank you very much for taking the time to comment - I appreciate it!
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:icontokslinas:
tokslinas Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014
...Thanks again for you. ;)
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:icontokslinas:
tokslinas Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014
Such sites are similar to the wounds .. wounds of history. Nations and cultures miscommunication ...
The Poles and Lithuanians have their own common history - a painful, sometimes glorious, sometimes - basest. And anti-heroes, and there were heroes on both sides; moreover, there was a time when it was difficult to understand what citizenship is and what - nationalism. To understand its roots, to know his story - duty. The same duty - saved yourself and your neighbor, keep it in common, but remain confident.
  Sorry, I could not to write about it. It is better to talk than to keep silent; default creates a space where the residence inner demons (;))
With respect to -
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:icontokslinas:
tokslinas Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014
...sorry for my english- "preterition creates a space ..."  (c)
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:icontokslinas:
tokslinas Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014
...sorry again-"remain identity" (c)
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:iconlormet-images:
Lormet-Images Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2014  Professional Interface Designer
I actually saw this in person several years ago. You captured the felling of the place quite nicely. :)
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner May 7, 2014
Hi Lori! Sorry for late response and thank you for the comment! It see you know eastern Mediterranean very well, it is a fascinating region, I wish it would be a bit cheaper to travel there from central and north-western Europe :) To be honest I found most of the places in northern Cyprus quite depressing (except Famagusta which is an amazing city and luckily it is not as damaged as most Greek medieval sites...) but I did not want this to be visible on this photo... Rather, I wanted to show that the monastery can be beautiful again. Thank you very much for another kind comment - I appreciate them (and once again sorry for not responding earlier!)
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:iconlormet-images:
Lormet-Images Featured By Owner May 7, 2014  Professional Interface Designer
No problem about the response time, I am really bad at it myself! As to the Greeks not maintaining or refurbishing their wonderful medieval and much older sites, I could not agree with you more! I found it very strange that they would let things decay to such a degree without trying to preserve them for posterity's sake! If you thing the Greeks are bad, found Budapest Hungary to be much worse! :)
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner May 12, 2014
I am glad you are not offended, a few times someone wrote me an angry note for not responding to their comments in time and now I am worried about it. About the decay of historical monuments, of course Greece and Cyprus are struggling with financial difficulties so budgets of cultural institutions are being cut which may have negative impact on the managing of sites. However in general, Greece and Cyprus are taking care of their heritage quite well, students can visit museums in Greece for free which is amazing given that I often had to spent quite a lot of money for tickets. Entering Hagia Sophia in Istanbul for example is quite expensive. Especially if you travel with your partner. Sites in Israel are also very expensive to visit so I think Greece is actually doing quite well. The destructio of monuments in northern Cyprus is,, unfortunately caused by the Turks, especially the Turkish military. I like Turks a lot and they often have been very friendly to me but to be honest, at least on the level of the state, they do not care about historical heritage, I could write a whole essay on it. In Turkey for example there is no ministry of culture - just a department in the ministry of Tourism. The monastery on this photo was destroyed by the Turkish forces and this is the fate shared by many Christian sites in the north - they are not protected and most of their frescoes or movable artifacts have been destroyed or stolen. I am not sure what the situation in Hungary is but on Cyprus the destruction of heritage is unfortunately, taking place mainly because Turkish authorities either lack many to put an end to it, or actively participate in it. There are some Turks who try to change it, for example the previous authorities in Famagusta, but overall, there is still much that needs to be done.
Anyway, sorry for the longish rant, and thank you once again for taking your time to write and read comments - I appreciate it a lot!
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:icontokslinas:
tokslinas Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014
... disrespect, misunderstanding and greed - a black market is full of artifacts of Cyprus...
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:icontokslinas:
tokslinas Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014
..sorry, uninvited joined the conversation.  ;)
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:iconlormet-images:
Lormet-Images Featured By Owner May 12, 2014  Professional Interface Designer
I have only seen a small part of Turkey and that was a long time ago. It is very sad that so much of the historical landmarks are being destroyed from either neglect, greed, or war! What will be left for future generations to enjoy and learn from? Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)
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:icontokslinas:
tokslinas Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014
... disrespect, misunderstanding and greed - a black market is full of artifacts of Cyprus...
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:icontokslinas:
tokslinas Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014
..sorry, uninvited joined the conversation.
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:iconhansmar:
Hansmar Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I've seen a church like this somewhere in Thessaloniki, cramped between modern high-rise flats. Looks much better like this!
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2014
Hi Hansmar! Thank you for the comment and I am sorry for taking so long to reply. Thessaloniki is a unique place in Greece as it is the only major, Byzantine city left in the borders of modern Greece. Athens and other modern Greek cities were minor settlements in medieval period and only Thessaloniki can claim to be a proper Byzantine metropolis similar to the great Byzantine cities like Antioch.  Even though most of its old town was destroyed by fire, a high number of late antique and medieval churches survive there, including the only Byzantine medieval bath house the type of which probably served as prototype for later Ottoman baths (at least that's what I read in one of the articles on it).... Anyway, sorry for such a long response, I visited Thessaloniki recently and I am still under strong impression of that place. Once again, thank you for the comment and sorry for the late reply!
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:iconhansmar:
Hansmar Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
No problem. Yes, the old town is very nice!
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:iconlord-makro:
Lord-Makro Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2014
Another tragic story from Cyprus...
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2014
Hi!Thank you for the comment and I apologize for taking so long to reply, I was out of Europe for some time and had little tie for DA...Unfortunately, this is the fate of many historical monuments in Northern Cyprus, a lot of work, money and cooperation is needed to restore and protect what is left of the rich heritage of the region - this can be done and I know people who undertake such works but it takes a lot of time and effort even to obtain permission and funding to restore and protect a single fresco - not to mention entire church or monastery - anyway, thank you for the comment -- I am glad this caught your attention and once again, sorry for the late reply! 
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:iconmistycascade:
MistyCascade Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
How sad :'/ the picture is beautiful though. I hate it when vandals attack historical sites
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2013
Your comment is very true. Once destroyed, cultural heritage is lost for ever and no reconstruction or model can make up for it. Still, I am glad this image caught your attention - thank you for taking your time to write a comment - I appreciate it! 
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:iconhawkwitch:
hawkwitch Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
nice
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2013
I am glad you think so! Thank you for the comment, Northern Cyprus is full of beautiful places but the political situation needs to improve on the island, there was much suffering there in the past and the process of mutual forgiveness will not take place imminently. It is a great pity...Anyway, thanks again and sorry for late response!
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:iconcromosoma123:
Cromosoma123 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2013   Photographer
Beautiful place and beautiful image. I love it!
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2013
It is very sad, but desolate, destroyed places do have some intriguing look and atmosphere about them. Still, I would prefer to see this monastery in a better condition, the exterior of the church looks more or less ok but the interior was very depressing... stolen frescoes, old furniture and rubbish, empty bottles etc.... Anyway, thank you very much for the comment - I am glad this coought your attnetion (also I apologise for the late response)
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:iconcromosoma123:
Cromosoma123 Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2013   Photographer
It's certainly a beautiful place. Saludos.
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:iconorientalarc:
OrientalArc Featured By Owner May 21, 2013  Hobbyist Interface Designer
Thank you for such detailed information and historical perspective.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2013
Thank you very much for taking your time to read it - I am very glad this cought your attention and you cared to leave comment - thank you again and sorry for late response!
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:iconbaroquedoll:
baroquedoll Featured By Owner May 13, 2013   Photographer
..what a pity, such a peaceful place and interesting building ..
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner May 18, 2013
Yes it is... unfortunately many sites across the Middle East, including North Cyprus, have suffered the same fate... On Cyprus, the problem is that the status of these structures is still disputed so no one can invest any money in restoration becouse it is uncertain who actually owns them. Also, in many cases Greeks from the south are not very happy about allowing Turks to restore Byzantine or Crusader structures becouse that would mean indirect recognizing of Northen Cyprus as a ountry... Anyway, thank you very much for the comment! I am glad that photo from my gallery cought your attention! Thanks again!
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:iconmariustipa:
mariustipa Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013
peristerona ... ? looks like that one, the same pattern.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner May 18, 2013
Hi! sorry for late response! Ruins of this monastery are a bit away from peristerona, at least from the one near Nicosia, I read somewhere that there are at least two other villages by that name in Northern Cuprus but they are even further away. Which one do you mean? Unfortunately I have not had a chance to visit any of them but the general pattern of abandoned, Byzantine churches is common to many sites in NC... Anyway, thank you very much for the comment! I am glad this cought your attention!
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:iconmariustipa:
mariustipa Featured By Owner May 20, 2013
You've got all my attention! Thanks for answering
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:iconadeincyprus:
adeincyprus Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2013  Professional Photographer
Your description of this building is common of many in the north of the island. The muslims have no respect for any religion other than their own, or at least that is how it appears. There are ransacked and desecrated buildings like this all over the TRNC, it is disgraceful. The RoC allow mosques on this side, and many have even been restored, but this is not the case in the north.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013
Hi! Thank you for the comment! I would not generalize about all Muslims but I agree that sometimes one can get an impression that cultural monuments of other religions are not respected and protected sufficiently in countries with Muslim majorities, especially in the Middle East. Obviously, this saddens me greatly as I think it is common sense that every cultural monument should be protected adequately and adherents of different religions should not be persecuted. It is a pity that it is not always so… Also, I agree that mosques on the recognized side of Cyprus function properly; the medieval Augustinian monastery in the south side of Nicosia is a mosque now although it still is essentially a beautiful gothic church. The example of Northern Cyprus, however, is more complicated than that because for the most part the local, Turkish authorities are not opposed to restoration of the medieval monuments in the north but because of political tensions, the south blocks all attempts at organizing restoration campaigns. Couple of years ago there was an American sponsor who wanted to secure the chapter house in the Bella Pais Abbey (it is in danger of collapse) and was willing to invest more than a million dollars in the project, but the south blocked this… Apparently, it seems that some of the authorities would prefer the medieval monuments of the North to collapse rather than to allow them to be restored by the unrecognized Turkish authorities. Please do not get me wrong, I have no idea how the Cyprus problem should be solved but I am genuinely worried by the devastation of historical monuments in the North and I do not think there is just one side to blame for it…Anyway, thank you once again for the comment!
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:iconcalimer00:
calimer00 Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2013
Lovely little church indeed
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013
I am glad you think so :) although to be honest - it would be much lovelier if it was not vandalised so much... Thanks for the comment! I really appreciate it!
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:iconerene:
erene Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013
A very beautiful shot!
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2013
:) :) Thank you, you are very kind :) :)
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:iconerene:
erene Featured By Owner May 16, 2013
You are welcome :)
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:icondashinvaine:
dashinvaine Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2013
Beautiful simplicity.
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2013
I am glad you think so, visiting some of the sites in Northern Cyprus can be fairly depressing... What I found unusual about this one is the contrast bewteen the ruined interior and the relatively well preserved rood which was restored in early 70s. In most cases the roof is the most damaged part of the ruin... Anyway, thank you very much for the comment, as always, I really appreciate it!
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:iconladymarg:
LadyMarg Featured By Owner Mar 25, 2013  Hobbyist Artist
Znowu coś pięknego...:)
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2013
Ojej ciesze sie ze Ci sie podoba :) Naprawde bardzo mi milo! Dziekuje za komentarz! Mowiac szczerze wiele wizyt na Polncnym Cyprze bylo troche depresyjnych, zabytki tam sa piekne ale ogrom zaniedban i zniszczen jest przytlaczajacy... Tak czy siak dzieki jeszcze raz!
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:iconmichaelwehar:
MichaelWehar Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013  Hobbyist Photographer
Awesome!! :D
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:iconbricksandstones:
BricksandStones Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2013
:) I am glad you think so :) Thank you very much!
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Details

Submitted on
March 23, 2013
Image Size
2.7 MB
Resolution
2816×2112
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Camera Data

Make
SONY
Model
DSC-H2
Shutter Speed
10/2500 second
Aperture
F/5.6
Focal Length
7 mm
ISO Speed
80
Date Taken
Sep 2, 2009, 4:40:16 AM
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