Church of the Franciscans
Famagusta, Church of the Franciscans
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The importance of the church and monastery of the Franciscans in Famagusta is apparent from its location in the heart of the city, just northwest of the Latin cathedral and adjoining the royal palace. According to Enlart, King Henry II had a secret passage leading directly from the palace into the church.1 There are records of several large donations to the monastery in the 14th century by wealthy Genoese merchants.2 In 1395, the monastery was reported to be in poor condition,3and, in an exhaustive description of Famagusta in 1507, there is no mention of the Franciscans at all.4
The single-vessel nave of three square bays measures 31 by 9 meters and is terminated by an oblong five-sided polygonal apse. The main portal was on the western wall, but additional doors led in from the north and south walls at the first bay from the apse. In the western bay on the south wall, there are two shallow arched niches, and another such niche on the north wall.
Rib vaults covering the two-story elevation sprung from brackets 5.4 meters meters above the medieval floor. The windows in the clerestory were large. The exterior buttresses are vertical, with no setbacks.
- Rory O'Neill, Dec 09, 2014
Accretion of Structure
Large, two-story side chapels were added in much the same manner as those at the Carmelite church in the northwest quarter of the city (no. 15). However, at the Franciscan church, the chapels extend beyond the width of the buttresses. The clerestory of the south chapel has a very narrow lancet window on the south wall and oculi on the narrower east and west walls. These oculi cut into the buttresses that have been incorporated into the chapel walls.
The oblong plan would cause the church to suffer torsional stresses during a seismic event; however, the addition of the side chapels in the central bay of the nave provides for greater stability against the beam-bending effect of a north-south acceleration from earthquakes. The small windows would make this chapel dark, but are more effective as an anti-seismic addition. Based on the historical accounts mentioned above, the church may have fallen into ruins before the Ottoman siege of 1571, leaving open the possibility that it was destroyed by an earthquake and left to decay as Franciscan presence in Famagusta declined.