Underground churches in frankish famagusta, Cyprus

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This paper examines a unique group of four crusader-period underground churches in Famagusta. The dedication, dating, and religious significance of these shrines are discussed in a regional context, using historical and archaeological sources. Two extramural churches attracted veneration from Latin and Greek communities: St. Mary de la Cava was a pilgrimage site man-aged by Greeks from Sinai, while the second grotto was originally a Latin edifice with a well providing holy water (agiasma). Inside the walls, an underground church, perhaps owned by the Melkites, had two altars and entrances, suggesting that it was possibly a pilgrimage shrine vener-ated by two religious communities. The fourth church, dedicated perhaps to the Nativity, is half built, half cut into the rock in a manner resembling the grotto of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Alt-hough the preserved shrines cannot be identified with certainty, this study indicates that they were important religious centers, which developed together with the growing Latin-ruled metropolis and had devotional, architectural, and institutional links with other pilgrimage shrines in Cyprus and the Levantine mainland.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-306
Number of pages46
JournalViator - Medieval and Renaissance Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Brepols Publishers. All rights reserved.


  • Cyprus
  • Famagusta
  • Greeks
  • Interfaith relations
  • Latins
  • Lusignan
  • Multiculturalism
  • Relics
  • Underground
  • Urban development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History


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