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Hazard, H. W. (ed.) / Volume IV: The art and architecture of the Crusader states

V: The arts in Cyprus,   pp. 165-207 PDF (8.9 MB)

Page 173

endurance; the twin towers, the pointed gables of the façade and chevet,
still rise most nobly above the massive Venetian walls of the town. The central
doorway has niches for six column figures and a central trumeau; the supports
are carved with oak leaves; in two of the canopies small corbels still show
the Agnus Dei; the voussoirs have the swelling, crinkled leaves so popular
in the island and once had human or animal terminals, now sadly defaced.
On a doorway on the south of the cathedral parvis, similar foliage has as
terminals confronting winged dragons and two figures of Samson and the lion;
the dog-tooth and zigzag embodied in the doorway suggest a later date than
the cathedral porch, for in Cyprus these motifs enjoyed a belated popularity.
The tracery of the great west window and of the wide windows of the aisles
and the gables of the three porches of the façade, so much more French
than that of Hagia Sophia, still reflect the charm of the last phase of geometric
Gothic, before the curvilinear movement had gained the day; while the interior,
somewhat bare and stern under its whitewash, with plain undecora ted capitals,
reminds us that this is an outpost, a little retardataire in its methods,
hampered perhaps by an insufficiency of skilled carvers. At the foot of one
or two of the columns is carved a curious motif, a pyramid crowned with a
ball, which recurs in many other buildings of the town. 
 The two cathedrals, so romantic in their evocation of France, each presided
over a large concourse of lesser buildings. Estienne de Lusignan states that
Nicosia had eighty churches when in 1567 the Venetians took the drastic decision
to withdraw the town within the new ramparts and level to the ground all
that lay outside. His own church of St. Dominic was one of the most distinguished
victims of this desperate defensive measure, which, before the menace of
the Turks, sacrificed a great part of the city's architectural heritage.
Today the few extant churches, not all surely identified and mostly diverted
from their original purpose, serve to show something of the architectural
development in the capital, but form an insubstantial list indeed compared
with the buildings recorded but now destroyed. 
 Of the thirteenth century, Hugh II's foundation of St. Dominic (1250) must,
next to the cathedral, have been the most splendid piece of Nicosian church
architecture, but Lusignan tells us only of its beauty and royal tombs in
general terms which give little information as to its plan or type. The Cistercian
church of Our Lady of the Fields was destroyed at the same time, as was also
that of Holy Savior of the Cemetery, where Henry I was buried in 1253 and

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