Restoration and re-use of the Bedestan (St. Nicholas Church)
What was the project about
Since 2003, thanks to EU funds, UNDP-PFF, under the framework of Nicosia Master Plan, has initiated the studies, investigations and design for the restoration of the Bedestan (St. Nicholas Church). The restoration of the Bedestan (St. Nicholas Church) aimed to contribute to the revitalisation of the Selimiye Quarter, a focal point of the unique cultural heritage of the Walled City of Nicosia.
The Bedestan (St. Nicholas Church) is one of the main cultural heritage sites located within the walled city of Nicosia.
When the project started this historically significant landmark was partly in ruins, and the restoration aimed to strengthen remaining structural parts, finally restoring the building to its former splendour. Before the project, the Bedestan was closed to the public due to dangerous structural conditions.
What have we accomplished so far
The project was completed in two phases, Phase 1 being the structural works performed between 2004 and 2006 and Phase 2 being the conservation and works for the re-use realised one year later and completed in October 2009.
Phase 1 (2004-2006)
When Phase 1 started, in 2004, the monument was found in very poor condition with a collapsed roof and various structural damages. The monument’s architecture showed not only signs of aging but also signs of damages caused by earthquakes and other natural phenomena occurred while the construction of the monument was underway.
This resulted into a technical assessment and structural investigation (2004-2005). The first phase of the works started in 2005 focusing on structural consolidation and improvement of anti-seismic properties. Innovative solutions were applied to the foundations, elevated structure, columns and roof. An experimental technique comprising of the construction of a pendulum was used to improve anti-seismic properties.
Phase 2 (2007-2009)
Phase 2 started in 2007 and focused on conservation and re-use. Upon completion of the restoration works it was possible to appreciate the original colours of the natural stones which had been covered by a thick black deposit caused by the burning of tallow candles and oil lamps, as well as the exterior façades that had also been considerably damaged by air pollution. Restoration and maintenance of the building were approached in an innovative manner using methods and procedures in accordance with the concept of “sustainable restoration”.
Traditional techniques and materials with aesthetic characteristics compatible with the existing structure were used for the cleaning of the interior and exterior façades, treatment of frescos and the strengthening works on the pinnacle of the ribbed vault, above the main entrance on the western façade.
A workshop designed to train specialised personnel in the field of maintenance, restoration and conservation of historical buildings was conducted for a team of architecture and engineering students, as well as for the local technical craftsmen assisting the planners and sub-contractors in the drawing of the project and the restoration phase.
Finally, the plan for the reuse of Bedestan as a cultural centre entailed some works on the roof, floor and windows all intended as being reversible, as well as works to ensure the accessibility to the monument for people with reduced mobility.
The project contributed to create new jobs during the restoration works, and local expertise in the field of cultural heritage preservation. At the same time, through its re-establishment as a new cultural pole in the heart of the revitalised walled city of Nicosia, the Bedestan is now contributing to strengthening the bridge between communities.
European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award
In 2009 the project was awarded the prestigious European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Award in the research category amongst a selection of 140 projects from 24 countries being appreciated for the completeness of the research and for the continuity given to the monument between its past, present and future needs.
On November 9, 2009 a ceremony attended by a high number of representatives from both communities, marked the opening of the Bedestan to the public and the inauguration of the cultural centre.
The Cultural Centre
In the three years that followed the inauguration of the building, UNDP-PFF has been supporting EVKAF's efforts in the management, sustainable use, and promotion of Bedestan. To achieve this, UNDP commissioned three technical assistance consultancies between November 2011 and December 2012 with the aim of supporting EVKAF to draft a strategic vision and business plan for Bedestan; training a Bedestan's appointed programme manager; review and evaluation of progress.
UNDP-PFF has also contributed to the organisation of events in partnership with the EU. In order to promote the use of the venue for different visual and performing arts UNDP-PFF also provided a fixed exhibition structure and one set of demountable exhibition structure.
- 9 November 2009 - Opening of the Bedestan Cultural Center
- 27 cultural events organised between 2010 and 2013
- Weekly Sufi Dance performances organised from January to April 2012
- Between November and December 2012, 300 entrance tickets were sold in Bedestan
- Financial sustainability: As of November 2012 the EVKAF administration put in place a ticket system of 2TL/entrance;
- Bedestan Human Resources: 1 full time human resource for daily maintenance, ticket selling and assistance in the set-up cultural events ; 1 part-time Bedestan programme manager
Who finances it
The study, supervision, restoration and re-use works amount to approximately 2 million EUR wholly funded by the European Union. In addition, the EVKAF Administration has also contributed financially to the restoration project.