Hurt by division, Cyprus's Othello Tower gets new lease of life

Fri Jul 4, 2014 10:31am EDT
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By Michele Kambas

FAMAGUSTA Cyprus (Reuters) - The Cypriot castle where Shakespeare set his drama "Othello" is getting a badly needed makeover after years of neglect stemming from the Mediterranean island's long-time division.

Ravaged by natural decay and the politics splitting the island for at least 40 years between the Turkish-controlled north and the Greek Cypriot south, the citadel which came to be known as 'Othello Tower' will undergo emergency stabilisation work over the next eight months.

“The monument as a whole is not at risk, It will be here for another 500 years, but we will lose important elements of the monument...every time it rains, it takes a little bit of the monument with it,” said Rand Eppich, a conservator architect and International Project Manager at Tecnalia, a Spanish consultancy.

The imposing fortress in the city of Famagusta on Cyprus’s eastern coast was first built by Lusignan conquerors in the 14th century. It was then remodeled and expanded in the 15th century by the Venetians, whose winged Lion of St. Mark emblem is still clearly visible, carved over its portal.

The restoration project is one of several earmarked by a bicommunal group of Greek and Turkish Cypriots who, acting with the approval of their respective political leaderships, are working to conserve Cyprus’s cultural heritage.


The sandstone complex, with four towers, is a maze of dark alleys, cellars and a large banqueting hall supported by vaulted roofs. Signs of its expansion from a Lusignan fortress to a Venetian one are evident; arrow slits in walls seen from the inner parts of the complex look out onto the Venetian fortification.   Continued...