RSS

Category Archives: Cyprus

Troodos, Cyprus

In the middle of the island, deep in the mountains, among old villages whose house are made out of stone, the monks retreated out the way of various invaders in order to preserve their belief. There, tucked into the forests, they built small monasteries, covered inside in impressive Byzantine frescoes. We published an album of frames from the shoot in Troodos Massif, an area of Cyprus representing a shield for the island’s Orthodoxy.

DSC07944

Agios Ioannis of Lambadistis, Kalopanayiotis, Cyprus

 

 
Comments Off on Troodos, Cyprus

Posted by on January 24, 2015 in Blog, Cyprus

 

Paphos, Cyprus

Paphos is related to the cult of Aphrodite that the legend says was born in a nearby charming place out of the sea foam. But Paphos is famous for its world renown mosaics and its impressive Tombs of the Kings, among many others. Here is an album of frames from the shoot we did in this western city of Cyprus.

DSC07725

Paphos mosaics

 
Comments Off on Paphos, Cyprus

Posted by on January 21, 2015 in Blog, Cyprus

 

Nicosia, Cyprus

One of the most interesting experience in Cyprus was the visit to its divided capital, two worlds apart delimited by barbed wire, sand bags and oil barrels. We published a single album of frames of Lefkosia and North Nicosia that we hope that one day will not be separated anymore by a border.

DSC07843

The Green Line, Nicosia

 
Comments Off on Nicosia, Cyprus

Posted by on January 18, 2015 in Blog, Cyprus

 

Larnaka, Cyprus

Back from the shoot in Cyprus, we put together a footage demo clip that is posted on the Cyprus’ country page. We also started to put together and publish the albums of frames from the shoot; today Larnaka and its surrounding towns of Foini, Vavla, and Zygi

DSC07426

Icon painting shop, Larnaka

 
Comments Off on Larnaka, Cyprus

Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Blog, Cyprus

 

Driving on the left

The Brits always say that we, the lay people of the rest of the world, drive on the wrong side. They invented it so they have the right to make the rule. I was able to avoid till now to drive on the “other side” mainly because in the country I visited I used taxis, buses and trains like in India. My only brief experience in this direction was in Anguilla, an island in the Caribbean, where sometimes is irrelevant on what side of the road you drive not even taking in consideration the amount of rum on the roads. So Cyprus was a real “first” and I looked terrified at the weird traffic that moved apparently chaotic around me. But I decided that I will do it and I rented, for the first time in Europe, an automatic car simply because I realized that, no matter how much I like to drive “stick”, my hands will move in the wrong directions and the gears would make terrible noise. Trying to enter the car on the opposite side of the wheel, smacking my partner on the left when I wanted to tie the seat belt, signaling with the wipers and trying to clean the rain drops on the windshield with the signals I drove, at first slow and inhibited on the roads populated by the smallest cars I ever encountered, including my tiny Nissan March, a car I never knew that is built. When somehow a car came towards me on my lane I was paralyzed that I may have missed it and I was on the wrong side, just to see that the colliding vehicle was just passing or disappearing in a side street. On the highways is easier as long as you don’t put yourself on the right lane day dreaming and being puzzled why nobody wants to pass but keep flashing from behind for you to get somehow away. As long as you don’t forget when you leave the highway that you have to drive on the left side, you are fine. In the end all went fine and after several days of driving I could not understand why people drive on the right; OK, just kidding…

larnaca

St Lazarus Cathedral, Larnaca

In any case, the last day in Cyprus we shot in and around Larnaka, a place associated with St Lazarus, the one that the Bible mentioned as raised from the dead whose apparent tomb was under the church, its bones being collected and part of them carried away by crusaders. On an outside board in front of the church, St Lazarus is introduced as “Jesus’ friend”, like they were “texting” each other!! Christianity is entwined here with Islam that has two mosques in a city with a larger Muslim population, many coming as refugee from abroad. Around Larnaka, old villages with restored rock houses with tavernas overlooking the ravines, roman aqueducts, small fishing villages whose harbors are full of nets filled boats leaving every morning for the catch of the day, ruins from all times of history from Neolithic to the French Lusignan, all compete for attention.

Zigy

Zigy harbor

But the bottom line was that in spite of the spotty rain I was able to drive unhindered to the airport where the guy from the car rental company was waiting for me to receive the car, hopefully in one piece, to drive it back to the office.

 
Comments Off on Driving on the left

Posted by on January 3, 2015 in Blog, Cyprus

 

Monks in seclusion

Vassa

Vassa

The first line of action of any invaders of a land is the local religion. If you conquer it you have better chances of submitting the people. Like in Meteora where wars drove the monks out of the plain and perked them on top of the fabulous formations building hanging churches to escape the barbarism, the same happened in Cyprus. Invasions drove the monks to build churches deep into the inaccessible mountains covered by impenetrable forests of the Central Troodos Massif. And they painted it inside in amazing chromatic fresco depicting the life of Christ, a stupendously beautiful illustrated bible hidden like a gem of the pagan eyes. To get there we crossed first old villages that look like they were forgotten by the times. Old rock house steeped into the hills that are almost covering the extremely winding one car wide streets. Vassa and Omodos are two of these extremely charming villages, the first completely deserted like it was never discovered, the second more alive with stores selling traditional products congregating around the main square were tavernas were competing for the Russian tourist money that abound in Cyprus. Behind everything, the thick walls made of old rocks of the village church, orthodox icons, old wine presses, charming streets and traditional renovated houses where you can forget for a night of the times you live in.

Pedoulas

Pedoulas Church

Winding roads bring you up to mountain resorts, cold and damp with lots of snow at this time of the year but a reprieve in the long summer sultry days. There deep in these forests are the monasteries, cult lairs of a once banned but never forgotten belief. Out of the many churches hidden in the woods, about ten of them are protected by UNESCO for their unique style and artistic value. It takes a lot of time to visit them all so we were able to delve in the monks’ world in Pedoulas, Moutoulas and Kalopanayiotis. The last village houses Agios Ioannis of Lambadistis, a treasure trove of frescoes, whose brilliance is stunning. The monastery dates from the year 1000 and the frescoes from sometimes in the 14th century adorning the church and two chapels that were built in time, sharing a large common roof of a distinctive architectural style characteristic for Troodos with elongated slated wooden roofs that reach almost the ground supported by deep rock walls. The mysterious atmosphere of the place is encompassing, a reminder of a deep preserved religious tradition in a country that was ruled for centuries by foreigners of other religions. They never ruled per se and they delegated the affair of the country to the religious head of the Cypriot church that was the real connector between the people and the occupiers. This model, almost like a religious state, disappeared in Europe for long but it is still alive even nowadays in Cyprus, an ethnarchy that revamped the old tradition where people rely on their religious leader for leadership and guidance. The church’s role in the country affairs is derived also from the remarkable stature of Archbishop Makarios III, who was exiled by the Brits to Seychelles just to return and guide the country towards independence in 1960.

 
Comments Off on Monks in seclusion

Posted by on January 2, 2015 in Blog, Cyprus

 

A day in a divided capital

Nicosia is the last divided capital. A city cut in two by intransigence and political jockeying. For 40 years it was literally impossible to cross the Green Line, the border of conflict established by the Brits in 1963. No passage existed between these two parts of the city and relatives could see each other at only one bastion of the fortified wall that completely surrounds the city since medieval times. About 10 years ago a numbers of passages were opened and people stream across the border from both side treating each other with civility. But the border stay enforced by Turkish forces that refuse to leave in an island that was received in the EU as a whole. Cyprus political status may sound confusing. The south is the Republic of Cyprus recognized by entire world as the only ruling entity of the island. On the north is a self declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), established at the invasion of July 20, 1974 that got its first civil government in 1983, recognized only by Turkey. From the European Union point of view the entire island is part of the EU with funds allocated for development for both South and North. However, because the TRNC government is not recognized the funds for the North are withheld till times will change. The TRNC citizens who were inhabitants of the island at the time of the partition carry EU passports but none of the newcomers from Turkey, Middle East and Central Asia who settled there with the Turkey’s blessing increasing the number of Muslim population and with it changing the proportion between Christians and Muslims.

Greenline2

The Green Line

Walking around the border on either side but mainly on the Greek side is an eerie experience. Imploded buildings have renovated facades with impeccable painted storage doors; behind, there are no roofs. Right near it a checkpoint with large “No Photo” signs shows behind the devastation from the riots that happened more than 50 years ago, everything covered in weeds and barbed wire. Collapsed building everywhere. Machine gun holes lets you peek to the other side among the rubble where soldiers once standing there created. At Ledra checkpoint a wall of sandbags and barrels sit right near the tables of a trendy café where people sip their frapes. If it were not for the guard who could be seen in the watchtower nearby you may think that this was a show for the tourists.
The lack of funds is obvious when you cross into North Nicosia. You feel that times stopped in a city that is full of men roaming the streets like in the Northern Africa. Even the physiognomy of people is slightly different many having a darker complexion and dressed obviously less affluent than their southerner counterparts. One of the things that stroke me was the fact that all these men are in restaurants drinking beer while the ones in the South are mainly in coffee places around frapes, Greek Coffee and more recently Starbucks and Gloria Jean’s. While the streets look definitely poorer not the same you can tell about the monuments that are well maintained and extremely well marked and directed, way better that in the Southern part.

sophia

Selimiye Mosque-Agia Sophia, North Nicosia

The striking Selimiye Mosque, the two-minaret-mosque visible and audible from the South was converted spectacularly by the Ottomans in 1500s from the city cathedral Agia Sophia. It was the first converted Gothic cathedral I saw and the interior is striking. The huge Gothic structure built like any other cathedral of the West was striped of any statues, symbols and crosses on its façade. Inside the entire nave covered in dark red rugs is painted white, the stained glass windows being replaced by lattices that let the draft come in in the sultry summer days. Its bare and in a way unexpected interior slightly resembles Oude Kerk in Amsterdam. The south has also an Augustine Monastery converted during the Ottoman rule that houses now Omeriye Mosque.
Large and small caravanserai, hammams built in old churches, oriental bazaar, a dervish museum, bastions and large squares devoid of the life that you see in the South complete a tour in a city side that tries to cope with its identity. The rest of many buildings sit in disrepair, empty stores, fallen walls, men mulling the street purposeless. And everywhere you hear the call for the prayers in a way more tolerant form of Islam than the one mediated nowadays in the news. In all mosques are displayed quotes in English from Quran stating the deep respect for all prophets of various religions that came before Mohamed. All this under the watchful eyes of a large border police that stamps your passports when you go in and out. When we got back on the Ledra Street at the Greek checkpoint they waved us through just by saying that we are Americans. We crossed back into Europe.

Greenline1

Ledra Street Crossing

 
Comments Off on A day in a divided capital

Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Blog, Cyprus