January 7, 2016

The Last Theophany in Famagusta, Cyprus Before the Occupation of 1974 (video)

The video below documents the last celebration of Theophany in Famagusta, Cyprus in January 1974.

After the Divine Liturgy in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Archbishop Makarios led a procession to the port, where the ceremony of the sanctification of the waters took place.

Famagusta is nicknamed "the city of 365 churches" owing to a legend that at its peak, Famagusta boasted one church for each day of the year.

During the second phase of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus on 14 August 1974 the Mesaoria plain was overrun by Turkish tanks and Famagusta bombed by Turkish aircraft. In two days the Turkish Army occupied the city, which had been completely evacuated by its Greek Cypriot population, who had fled into surrounding fields before the army's arrival. Most believed that once the initial violence calmed down they would be allowed to return.

As a result of the Turkish airstrikes dozens of civilians died, including tourists.

Unlike other parts of the Turkish-controlled areas of Cyprus, the Varosha suburb of Famagusta was fenced off by the Turkish army immediately after being captured and still remains in that state today. The Greek Cypriots who had fled from Varosha were not allowed to return, and journalists are banned. It has been frozen in time with, today, houses, department stores and hotels empty and looted, even to the tiles on bathroom walls.

In an October 2010 report titled Saving Our Vanishing Heritage, Global Heritage Fund listed Famagusta, a "maritime ancient city of crusader kings", among the 12 sites most "On the Verge" of irreparable loss and destruction, citing insufficient management and development pressures.

January 6, 2016 marked the first Theophany celebration in Famagusta since the occupation that took place 42 years prior in 1974, sanctioned by Turkish authorities as a sign of the improving climate between both sides in hopes that it will translate into progress in peace talks.