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St George of the Latins Church

Famagusta, North Cyprus

St George of the Latins church, Famagusta
St George of the Latins

St George of the Latins is the remains of one of the earliest churches in Famagusta. It can be found in the northern part of the old city, close to Othello's tower.

The exact date of construction is a little vague, but evidence of a crenellated parapet where defenders could protect the church, hints that it was built at a time when the Lusignans had not yet completed the city walls. Its design was supposedly inspired by St Chapelle church in Paris, which was built in 1241. Generally, it is thought that the church was built in the last quarter of the 13th century, using material removed from the Salamis ruins.

Slender Columns and tall windows at St George of the Latins church, Famagusta
Slender Columns and Tall Windows

The major part of what remains are the northern and eastern wall. However, these remains allow us to imagine what the edifice must have looked like.

Have a look at the thin columns built into the wall. As you follow them up, you'll see them splay out and leave the wall. This is where they became the ribs supporting the roof. Although the roof is long gone, you can still see one of the cap stones where 4 of these ribs joined together lying on the ground. These stones would have been at all the rib junctions in the roof. They were usually elaborately carved, sometimes with religious images, sometimes with the coats of arms belonging to the benefactors of the church.

A lookout tower on the church of St George of the Latins, Famagusta
A Lookout Tower

You can see more examples of those bosses littering the floor of St George of the Greeks church about 5 minutes walk to the east of here.

Have another look at the slender columns in the wall, and wonder at how they could support the weight of the roof. Of course, they couldn't, and the builders knew this. What they did, however was direct the weight to specific parts of the wall, and the builders knew this and used it to their advantage. Have a look at the outside of the walls. There you will see large buttresses where the forces converged, and it was those that carried the weight.

A gargoyle in the forfm of a monk
A Gargoyle in the Form of a Monk

This meant that the portions of the walls between the pillars were relatively free of weight. This gave the builders the opportunity to build large windows, almost the entire height of the walls. This is one of the main features of Gothic architecture, and it allows a large amount of light to come into the church.

From inside the church, have a look towards the south west corner. Here you will see the first steps of what was a spiral staircase leading up to the roof. Looking to the north west, you can see the remnants of a guard house with a conical roof and the entrance doorway still visible.

Alion devouring a lamb
A Lion Devouring a Lamb

Following the line of the roof, you can still see some of the protective wall, complete with arrow slots. It is partially because of these that it is felt that the church was built in the period before the city walls were completed.

However, the city walls did not provide complete protection. In common with all the tall buildings in the city, the church suffered damage during the Ottoman siege of 1570, and some of this damage can still be seen on the eastern wall of the church.

The only entrance which survives is to the north, and this is comparatively well preserved. It is surrounded by carvings, and nearby you can see a bearded man wearing monks robes, and a lion attacking a lamb. On top of the piers there were marble gargoyles to take the rainwater off the roof. One which remains is in the form of a monk, using one of his hands to open his mouth which acts as a drain.


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