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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / The art and architecture of the crusader states
(1977)

V: The Arts in Cyprus,   pp. 165-207 PDF (15.7 MB)


Page 172

 172 A HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES  IV 
the earliest buttresses for the vault of the choir, it seems probable that
such a roof was at first intended, but that soon it was decided to adopt
the flat roofs of the island with their terraces of lime concrete, lightened
at times by the insertion of pottery jars. It was the first compromise between
Gothic art and local custom. 
 On the east coast of the island, later in date than Hagia Sophia but its
only rival in scale and excellence, is the cathedral church of St. Nicholas
of Famagusta. It appears to have been begun about 1300, when the will of
Isabel of Antioch left five bezants for work on the cathedral. Bishop Baldwin
Lambert engraved an inscription on the buttress to the west of the south
doorway stating that by the fourth of August, 1311, the money collected for
the building had been expended and that it was resumed by his orders on the
first of September of that year, when six vaults of the two aisles had been
completed and ten vaults of the aisles and eight of the nave remained to
be built. It seems therefore that the terminal apses and two bays of the
aisles were completed up to the vaulting but that neither choir nor nave
was as yet covered; probably the side walls had been carried farther, as
the inscription is placed well beyond the vaulted bays. The ground plan had
also been established, with a nave and two aisles of seven bays, all terminating
in polygonal apses, with no transepts. 
 Famagusta was the coronation church, where the Lusignans received the crown
of Jerusalem, and therefore Rheims was probably in the mind of its designers,
but the detail of the building, particularly of the chevet, comes, as at
Nicosia, strangely close to the style of St. Urbain of Troyes, founded in
1262 and notable for its advance towards a freer, more flowing type of Gothic.
It is not known how far Baldwin Lambert, a member of a wealthy Cypriote family,
completed the building, and even the exact date of his death is uncertain.
But with the exception of the four side chapels added later to the aisles,
in imitation of those at Hagia Sophia, the cathedral is remarkably uniform.
The west front (pl. LVII) maintains the purity of the true French Gothic
style with none of the heavier richness of the porches at Nicosia. The figure
sculpture, save for a few minor pieces, was all destroyed after the fall
of the town in 1 571, and the cathedral was much battered by cannon-balls
during the siege. Then a long period of fanatical possession, lasting until
the British occupa tion of the island, excluded all Christian visitors. 
 During the second world war Famagusta suffered some damage from the vibration
of depth charges off the coast and from anti-aircraft fire, but the building
has stood such tests with much 


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