Conservation works will start at the beginning of 2020 at the Armenian Sourp Magar Monastery and are expected to be completed during the year. The monastery is dedicated to Saint Makarios the Hermit of Alexandria and is located on the eastern part of Turkish-occupied Pentadaktylos mountain at an altitude of 530 m meters.
Greek Cypriot Co-Chair of the bicommunal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, Takis Hadjidemetriou, has told the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) that this will be the first phase of conservation works at the monastery, that will cost over 400 thousand euros and will be funded by the EU. At the current phase, conservation will be conducted at the church of the monastery and the older monastic cells surrounding it. For the rest structure some maintenance will be undertaken until funds are found to secured to further proceed with the conservation works, he added.
Hadjidemetriou said the works will be undertaken by a bi-communal team of contractors and planners with the technical support of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Cyprus. The relevant contracts are now being signed after the awarding of the tender and the conservation works will begin at the beginning of the new year and will be fulfilled in 2020, he added.
Hadjidemetriou also noted that this is the first time that conservation works are conducted at the monastery as it was considered to be situated in a military zone and the puppet regime in the occupied part of Cyprus did not allow for such works to take place in the past. He also recalled that attempts to turn the monastery into a tourist development during the ‘90s were prevented.
Moreover, Hadjidemetriou told CNA that the conservation works will be conducted in cooperation with the Armenian community of Cyprus, which has been briefed about the works to be undertaken.
The monastery was founded by Copts around the year 1000 AD and by 1425 it was inherited by the Armenians. Its vast land, which covers around 8.500 donums, includes 30.000 olive and carob trees, extends up to the sea and is characterized as picturesque and idyllic. From the Monastery one can see the Taurus mountain range in Cilicia.
The Armenian monastery had for centuries been a popular pilgrimage for Armenians and non-Armenians, as well as a place of rest for Catholicos (Patriarchs) and other Armenian clergymen from Cilicia and Jerusalem and also a center of attraction for local and foreign travelers, as well as pilgrims en route to the Holy Land.
It is the most important Armenian ecclesiastical monument on the island and has been occupied since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.