Celebrating completion of conservation works at Agios Afksentios Church

Jun 8, 2015

Bishop of Karpasias Christophoros and Imam Fahretin Ogdo at Agios Afksentios Church completion ceremony. UNDP Photo/Olkan Erguler, 4 June 2015.

Komi Kebir/Buyukkonuk – On June 4, 2015 the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, the European Commission and the United Nations Development Programme celebrated the completion of conservation works to the Church of Agios Afksentios in Komi Kebir/Buyukkonuk.

The event was attended by the Bishop of Karpasias Christophoros together with the Imam Fahretin Ogdo and members of the diplomatic community.

We received from the contractor the church of Agios Afxentios. At the ceremony, in an atmosphere of fondness and love, gathered Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot villagers, women and men, whose friendship stemmed from their childhood years.  Present also were the Bishop of Karpasias Christophoros and the Imam Fahretin Ogdo. We heard words of cooperation, solidarity and peace. We were facing the picture of tomorrow's Cyprus. This is what we are working for and this is what we hope we will soon achieve" – said Mr. Takis Hadjidemetriou from the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage talking about the event during which he dedicated his speech to the 15th - early 16th century colored fresco found during the conservation works behind a wall of the Church.

In the past, the cultural heritage was the victim of the conflict in Cyprus. We have already shown that the successful work of the Technical Committee could change this into a positive way. It would also be used as a tool for building cooperation and dialogue. We hope that our cooperation in the field of cultural heritage will widen to cover other areas for the common benefit of the two sides.”  Added Mr. Ali Tuncay speaking on behalf of the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage.

The project – which was born as emergency measures and was later turned into a conservation project - aimed at consolidating and stabilising the structure to prevent possible collapses hence leading to an aesthetic upgrading of church.

Speaking to the many Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot residents of the village attending the event, UNDP-PFF Programme Manager Tiziana Zennaro said “I am sure that most of you have private memories of this area.  Family memories, community memories or daily-lives memories. Today, together, we are making new memories. Memories of peace, trust, and respect”.

Alessandra Viezzer from the European Commission added: “The European Union's motto is "United in diversity", making very clear that diversity must not mean distance and mistrust, but it must be a source of constructive dialogue and mutual understanding. Today I look at this accomplished project and I see a symbol of how Cypriots can work together for a common purpose.

The project was fully funded by the European Union. The total cost - including additional safety items, design and works - was approx. 230,000 Euro.

Revealed during the conservation works were, among other things: a) three arches, now blocked, on the northern wall which prove the existence of a northern aisle in the church or an arcade connecting the building with an earlier church b) a door frame, of its initial phase, on the west edge of the north wall c) a wall-painting on the western arch of the south wall and remains of other wall-paintings elsewhere and d) a number of icons and wood carved items found above the central arch.

Works on this Church were long, as it deserved, and they included, amongst other things: the strengthening of walls and vaults, replacement of broken/cracked or heavily weathered stones with new ones, repair of the church roof and apse semi dome, new wooden doors and windows, and the proper protection of a mural painting by a specialized conservator. The Holy Altar has also been partially reconstructed.

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