On March 17, 2014, U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, John M. Koenig, hosted an event to celebrate the restoration of the Armenian Surp Asdvadzadzin (St. Mary’s) Church and Monastery complex located in the Turkish sector of Nicosia, one of Cyprus’ most significant cultural heritage sites, KP Daily News reported.
Through its partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the United States Agency for International Development funded the multi-year, multi-million-dollar renovation, which brought Armenian Cypriots, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots together with international experts. Between 2006 and 2013, architects, engineers, planners and crafts people restored the site to international standards, ensuring that it is preserved for future generations.
“Fundamentally, there is no greater reflection of respect than assisting others to preserve their heritage. That respect is manifest in the work that was done here,” noted Ambassador Koenig in his remarks at the event, which included all of the representatives of all of the island’s religious communities. “The United States is a longstanding supporter of initiatives like this that demonstrate in the most tangible way how conservation and heritage can build bridges between fractured communities. Sharing the responsibility for preserving such incredible places builds trust and, through projects like this, Cypriots are building a better, more peaceful, future.”
According to UNDP Program Manager Christopher Louise, the site with an architectural record of over 700 years is “evidence of the island’s rich and multicultural past. As important, it is now a restored symbol of Cyprus’ future where religion, culture and education can contribute to reconciliation.”