Selected and rare materials, excerpts and observations from ancient, medieval and contemporary authors, travelers and researchers about Cyprus.
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GIOVANNI MARITI. Travels in the Island of Cyprus


over. They turn the face towards the south to look towards Mecca, the country of their prophet, for thence, they say, came their salvation.
I must not forget that outside the said mosque there is a column of granite on which used to stand a lion, the arms of the republic of Venice. In the garden of the Digdaban, or Commissioner of the city, on the square opposite the mosque, there are some columns of mottled marble which may be relics of buildings which once stood in the square.
The mosque of which I have spoken is the only Turkish place of worship in Larnaca. The Greeks have three churches, St John, their cathedral, and the residence of a prelate who bears the title of bishop of Cittì, where properly he should live; but that being now reduced to a mere village he lives here with his train. The next in rank is that of our Lady, called Crusopolitisa, where they preserve an ancient picture of the Virgin; the third is St Saviour. These they hold with­out hindrance, and each is served by a Greek priest called κοσμικός ιερευσ; the inhabitants of both sexes assemble there three hours before dawn, at daybreak they must have completed all the ceremonies and celebrated the single mass which is said in each church.
The Fathers of Terra Santa have a church called St Maria di Larnaca. It is divided into three aisles, but each being shut off from the other they form three different chapels. In the middle one is a touching picture of the Virgin Mary: that on the right is set apart for women, who throughout the East, even among Catholics, are divided from the men: a custom only maintained in churches of the Latin rite on account of the prejudices of orientals. The chapel on the left, dedicated to St Francis, is used as a choir for the monks, where we may note a fine organ, the gift of the Emperor Leopold. St. Maria is the parish church of the whole European colony in Larnaca, and here they are bound to fulfil the well defined duties of Catholic Christians.
In the convent are two large dormitories, and a refectory, with two good paintings by an unknown but skilful hand, one represents our Saviour washing the Apostles' feet, the other the Marriage at Cana of Galilee. Their dispensary, fully furnished with drugs, is worthy of remark, as well as their excellent library, their orchards and gardens. The convent serves as a resthouse for pilgrims on their way to and from the Holy Places. The number of religious does not usually exceed six: a Guardian; two Curates, one French and one Italian, the latter must know also Greek to be able to help the Maronites and other orientals of the Catholic communion; the dispenser, who acts as physician and surgeon; and two other priests. But when the pilgrims are passing through there are sometimes as many as thirty or forty monks.
The Capucin fathers of the province of Flanders have also a hospice.
Their church (1) is the private chapel of the French consul, and several times a year he must be present there with his colony: not however at Easter, when he must fulfil his religious duties in the parish church of St Mary. There are generally only three monks attached to the church, one of whom is expected to keep a school for the children of European families, where they learn to be good, and are taught Latin and French. The church is small, the cells few : but they have other rooms where they receive travelling laymen, who coming from Europe touch at Cyprus—they admit such also to their refectory for a daily payment of 20 paras, about 20 crazie. They live solely on  charity:   the  French   consul  sends   them   yearly about 15 Tuscan crowns.
It is worth noting that all the churches, Greek and Latin, stand in a walled enclosure. In the Greek churches one enters this kind of cloister through one or more doors just two braccia high and one and a half wide, purposely built so low that the Turks might not be able to bring in their horses or other animals. You see the same practice throughout Syria even in the Latin churches, but in Cyprus the gates of these enclosures can be high and wide, for there is no fear of any intrusion on the part of the Turks.
Churches, convents, hospices and mosques are all built of stone. But houses and stores have for a braccio's depth of foundation, and two braccia above the ground level courses of stone laid in gypsum. The rest is built of bricks, made of earth  taken anywhere and mixed with water and  chopped straw.    They are made in forms as in Italy, a braccio long and half a braccio wide: they are not burned but left to dry in the sun just where made. The same earth mixed with straw and used fresh is used to bind them together. This mode of building prevails throughout the island, except in the few villages which have stone handy, but they use the same mortar. Without the houses take a melancholy look from the colour of the earth, but within they are airy and comfortable, and plastered with the whitest possible gypsum, which is found abundantly in the hills near Larnaca. They are rarely more than two stories high, a ground and first floor: the roofs are made of earth mixed with clay, which during the winter rains plugs up the fissures caused by the summer heat.    These roofs are half a braccio thick, supported by stout beams, with cross rafters and a double reed mat. But if the rains are long and continuous the inmates are obliged to make

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