Tales of the City

Ephemeral to Stay

flaxThings about old Nicosia I’ll never get tired of? I love how there’s pockets of ever-surprising histories under our noses. In between the tavernas and winebars, UN barricades, parking atrocities and brunch-prodigies-of-the-month there are hidden gems, secret gardens, incongruously mounted coats of arms or intriguing district appellations.

The dainty church -more an agglutination of chapels, really- of Panaghia Chrysaliniotissa (or Our Lady of the Golden Flax) is the oldest extant orthodox church within Nicosia’s Venetian walls. Built in the 1450’s, during the reign of the Frankish king John II, by his wife, Byzantine princess Helena Palaiologina, to serve the religious needs of gentlefolk in the walled city, who -like herself- happened to not adhere to the catholic creed of her husband’s ruling  Lusignan family. A tranquil oasis today, with its modest courtyard in a densely-built quarter, it once stood as a symbol of growing Greek influence against bitter Frankish resentment. 

There’s the question of the name: miraculous byzantine icon found in the…

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