Profitis Elias Church: Conservation works completed!

Nov 23, 2015

Profitis Elias Church. UNDP Photo/Olkan Erguler, 17.11.2015

Nicosia, 18 November 2015 - More than 100 people attended on Tuesday November 17th 2015 the project completion ceremony of Profitis Elias Church in the village of Philia/Serahtkoy in the northern part of Cyprus.

Amongst them were several Greek Cypriot residents of the village, H.E. the Bishop of Morphou, European Union Heads of Missions, and representatives of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, European Commission and UNDP.

Profitis Elias Church was one of the first churches to be included in the list of heritage sites in need of emergency measures in 2012 when the project “Support to Monuments of Great Importance for the Communities of Cyprus (Phase 1)” began.

After a first emergency measure phase was completed in 2013, upon request of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, UNDP and the European Commission agreed to elevate the works to a conservation project which included the construction of a new roof additional walls, wood and floor works. (Click here to read a full works' description).

When I visited this village with the Technical Committee I saw that the church of the village was ruined. That caused pain for the village, and for us. We felt the same pain for the Mosque of Deneia/Denya as well. We said to ourselves that two local values were vanishing and we had to save them. Their restoration was our responsibility […]” recalled Mr. Takis Hadjidemetriou, GC Representative of theTechnical Committee on Cultural Heritage, during his speech.

I firmly believe that the more we cooperate, the more success stories will emerge from this island. And I guess that the spirit of cooperation that we embrace together demonstrates that if we really want, we can make things happen for the good of our respective communities” added Mr. Ali Tuncay, TC Representative of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage.

Talking to the many Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots residents who joined the ceremony and referring to the small size of the church (a one-aisle church of basilical plan that dates to the second half of the 19th c. or the early 20th c.) Ms. Tiziana Zennaro, UNDP-PFF Programme Manager said: “A monument of great importance is not necessarily a big monument in terms of square meters, nor is it the most ancient one. It is not the one architecturally more unique, nor the most expensive one (the conservation of Profitis Elias Church cost approx. 130,000 Euro fully funded by the European Union). These all are characteristics of great importance of course. But a monument of great importance for a community is a monument where old and new memories meet; a place that goes beyond worship to develop new feelings of common belonging and understanding.”(Read the full speech here).

I praise the work of the members of the Technical Committee and the Advisory Board who, like Elias, decided to row upstream and lead the way to a better future for Cyprus” concluded Ms. Michela Foresti, European Commission, “I am convinced that their work and attitude made a significant contribution to the current climate and perspective and I am proud to represent today the institution that has stood by them to offer support from the very beginning”. Since 2012 approximately €6.7 million of European Union funds have been provided by the European Commission through the UNDP to implement the priorities of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage for the preservation of the island-wide cultural heritage in Cyprus. The European Union is the biggest supporter of the work of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage in Cyprus.

The Church of Profitis Elias has been now handed over to the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage.