Our Shared Heritage #5: Messages from Agios Panteleimonas

Jun 19, 2017

Our Shared Heritage # 5 - Messages from Agios Panteleimonas

On 18 May 2017, the European Commission, Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage and UNDP celebrated the completion of conservation works to the Monastery of Agios Panteleimonas. The event brought together hundreds of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. "OurSharedHeritage" is a UNDP in Cyprus' series of video stories on the EU funded work of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage to bring people together around shared heritage.

More than 200 people, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, attended the completion ceremony of phase 1 of conservation works to the Monastery of Agios Panteleimonas on May 18th 2017.

In a world scattered with catastrophes, deaths and tragedies, us here, from this corner of the Mediterranean, have our own little story to tell, a joyful message to transfer; about the survival of a monument, of human work with its own history and meaning as well as importance; the story of Agios Panteleimonas Monastery” said the Greek Cypriot Representative of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage (a bi-communal network of heritage experts from the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities appointed by the respective community leaders to help rebuild peace and trust on the island through heritage conservation initiatives) speaking to the public.

Agios Panteleimonas Monastery is considered by the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage one of four ‘Mega-Projects,’ along with Apostolos Andreas Monastery, the Othello Tower and the Famagusta Walls Complex. The Committee considers these large-scale monuments to be of great historical and social value.

The monastery is considered an important site given its history and significance and a physical testament to the history of the region and Cyprus itself. 

"The Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage taught us that we could be productive when we work and produce together. We showed that we can work for the benefit of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots based on respect, equality, mutual trust without imposing anything to each other and working towards to gain advantage. I wish that this cooperation environment would spread to other fields for the benefit of Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots" said Ali Tuncay, Turkish Cypriot representative of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage.

Mr. Kjartan BJÖRNSSON, Head of Unit Cyprus Settlement Support, Structural Reform Support Service Secretary General of the European Commission also attended the ceremony highlighting the European Commission's dedication to supporting bringing the two communities closer together."We are not just here as donors providing funds. Finding money for meaningful projects is of course important component, but what is even more important is the principles and values that we share. Above all else the European Union is a peace project, and a project that brings countries, peoples and cultures together. In this way the values of the EU and the values you have been working hard to uphold are the same. Money can restore the buildings and monuments of the past, but only shared values can lay the foundation for a better, confident future." he said.

Tiziana Zennaro, UNDP Senior Programme Manager in Cyprus highlighted the strategic, reliable, cooperative and indispensable role of the European Union in Cyprus and and stressed UNDP's belief that events such as this, bring an additional value to the ongoing confidence building process by sending out a strong positive example of bicommunal cooperation, mutual respect and common responsibility for Cyprus' shared heritage.

Phase 1 of the conservation project started in October 2015 and was completed in November 2016. Works focused on the stabilisation of the monastic buildings (refectory building, reredorter building, south dorter and north dorter buildings), conservation of wall paintings inside the church, and repair works to the roof of the church. Other works included the structural stabilisation of elevations, vaults, cracks, and finishes, control and drainage of water around the entire site, site clearing, and exterior surface treatments of the cloister, closing off unsafe buildings, installation of didactic informational materials and provision of access for persons with disabilities.

On the occasion of the 2016 International Day for Monuments and Sites, hundreds of current and former residents of the village and university graduate students from both communities visited the Monastery.

The total cost of the project was approx. 726,500.00 Euro fully funded by the European Union.

Support to the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage is a cornerstone of the European Union's support to reconciliation and confidence building measures through the Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community.