Historic walls of Lefkoşa under risk
While shooting a documentary about a particular life story in the northern part of Lefkoşa, little did Derya Atamer know that the nearly 500-year-old Venetian Walls surrounding the divided capital of Cyprus she was standing next to were about to collapse partly.
Fortunately, Atamer, her team, or any Lefkoşa residents were unharmed but the third partial collapse of the walls, which was built to reinforce the city’s defenses in the 16th century and strengthen its image of an ideal Renaissance settlement, in the past few years has raised concerns.
“My team and I were lucky, but we know that a similar collapse can happen again if the necessary maintenance and repairs are not done,” said Atamer, a Turkish Cypriot journalist who has been taking interviews around the walls for the last 20 years.
Reminding that there were partial collapses on the walls again in 2019 and 2020, she underlines that these incidents are a message that the historic landmark needs the necessary care.
With European Union funding, UNDP’s technical support, and comprehensive work under the auspices of the bicommunal technical committee, the wounds are being mended, but these interventions are insufficient according to some and there is clearly still a lot to be done.
“Without waiting for the demolition of the walls, the necessary restoration and protection works should be started immediately with a holistic project that will cover all the walls without making a north-south distinction,” said Mehmet Harmancı, the mayor of the Lefkoşa Turkish Municipality.
Stating that they are in consultation with the local authority in the southern part of the Cypriot city in this context, Harmancı said that they would raise their demands before the United Nations and the European Union, both individually and as two Lefkoşa municipalities.
“We aspire to take legal authority and responsibility for the sustainable preservation of the rich cultural heritage of the city, especially the city walls, after the restoration works that need to be implemented urgently,” the mayor noted, adding that some legal regulations do not allow them to take initiative and responsibility for the protection of the cultural heritage.
However, another aspect that is believed to be as necessary as coordinated work is social awareness.
“We must remember that it is the duty of every individual to protect and transfer the historical and cultural heritage to future generations, and we must put the necessary pressure on the relevant authorities to take the necessary measures for its protection,” Atamer said.