The castle where Shakespeare set his drama “Othello” in the island of Cyprus is going to be restored, after being abandoned for years.
The politics splitting the island for decades, and the fact that it had not been taken care off for many years, has made the citadel which came to be known as ‘Othello Tower’ to deteriorate. But in a recent change of events, it has been decided to undergo emergency stabilization work over the next eight months.
The restoration project is one of several earmarked by a bicommunal team of Greek and Turkish Cypriots who, acting with the approval of their respective political leaderships, are working to conserve the island’s cultural heritage.
Projects selected by the team are eligible for funds, in this case from the European Union which has allocated €4 million, and then implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“Personally, I feel a lot of relief that work has started,” archaeologist Sophocles Hadjisavvas said to Reuters news agency. “This fortress represents the very history of Famagusta.”
“The monument as a whole is not at risk, it will be here for another 500 years, but we will lose important elements of the monument…every time it rains, it takes a little bit of the monument with it,” said Rand Eppich, an architectural conservator and International Project Manager at Tecnalia, a Spanish consultancy.
The imposing fortress in the city of Famagusta was first built by Lusignan conquerors in the 14th century. It was remodelled and expanded in the 15th century by the Venetians, whose winged Lion of St. Mark emblem is still clearly visible, carved over its gate.
The sandstone complex with four towers is a maze of dark alleys, cellars and a large banquet hall supported by vaulted roofs.
Conservationists claim the intervention will be as ‘light’ as possible. Only original materials and mortar will be used, and researchers have already located the ancient quarry where materials will be extracted if necessary.
The stone stage in the central courtyard, used until recently for performances of Shakespeare’s tragedy “Othello,” will be dismantled and replaced by a new one made with more suitable materials.