Morfu, 'Le Morf'
name now: Güzelyurt).
large village on the west side of the island, which now gives its name
to the great bay and to the sub-district of the western end of the Messaoria.
This village which seems to have come into prominence during the middle
ages has recently increased in importance from its large and much used
station on the Famagusta railway. There are few vestiges of antiquity
about Morphou beyond the large monastery dedicated to a famous Cypriot
monastery of St. Mamas (see
also Enlart 'L'Art Gothique', p. 493)
was evidently a monument of importance during the Latin period of Cyprus
history, and probably was one of the most celebrated of the Byzantine
shrines of a remote origin. But the present church appears not to be older
than about 1725. The English traveller Drummond gives a lengthy description
and a copperplate view of it as it appeared in 1754 when it was quite
new and evidently considered the most important architectural monument
of the island.
appearance of greater antiquity than is really the case is given to this
church by the survival of Gothic forms in its construction and by the
presence of various carved details which have been adapted to a new position
from some much older building once occupying the site. These details,
such as the capitals of the nave columns, the north and south doorways,
and the shrine of the saint are evidently work of the 'Flamboyant'
period of the XVIth century. The interior, which resembles to some extent
the church of Tripiotissa, Nicosia, with a similar central dome and cross-vaulted
side aisles, is remarkable for architectural character and elaborate detail.
The capitals of the nave columns, already referred to, are of the curious
'tête des fleurs' type of human
faces and leafage which seems to have been a favourite motif with the
Cypriot masons of the XVth century.
iconostasis is a particularly interesting one, composed of four marble
columns with finely carved slabs of stone forming dwarf walls on either
side of the 'holy doors'. These stone slabs are designed as panels decorated
with the characteristic Venetian heraldic shields. The upper part of the
iconostasis is in the usual elaborate carved woodwork covered with gilding.
An icon is dated 1745, and there is a very fine medieval looking icon
of the Panayia, Italian in style. The holy table is covered with an unusually
medieval looking carved wood canopy of large size (like a XVth century
tomb), and there are one or two other articles of furniture about the
church which are at least in a pronounced Gothic style. An old episcopal
throne lies in the Bema, and there is a fine wood pulpit with painted
famous shrine of St. Mamas is an arched
niche on the north side of the church covering an ancient looking sarcophagus
which is built into the thickness of the wall, and shews both on the inside
and the (<) outside of the building. The
inside (>) arch is of elaborate XVIth
century moulding covered with large Flamboyant leafage, resting on columnar
jambs and foliaged capitals. The space within the arch, and above the
sarcophagus is filled in with an interesting panelling of wood, painted
with small pictures or icons. The stonework is unfortunately daubed over
in gaudy oil paint of different colours clumsily applied. This interesting
fragment of the original church has been left untouched and in situ
when the rebuilding took place in 1725. In the gynaiketis or women's
gallery there is apparently the original painted panelling precisely similar
in appearance and design to what occupies the tympanum of the arch at
the present day, but it is old and much injured by fire. It would therefore
seem probable that the more ancient church of St. Mamas was destroyed
by fire at the beginning of the XVIIIth century, and was then entirely
rebuilt using up a great many of the uninjured portions of the fabric
and the fittings.
visitor named 'Porey'
has scratched his (<) name on the façade
in 1738. This was possibly the French Consul of that period. The church
which preceded the present structure was of the 'Flamboyant'
period, but a still older church of the Byzantine style is probably represented
by a number of marble capitals (>) which
appear amongst the squalid mud buildings of the surrounding monastery.
In the courtyard
is also preserved a curious drinking
decorated with two large shields bearing (1) in chief three crosses (Nores),
(2) A cross potencée. A simple well proportioned vaulted
narthex at the west end was replaced by the present flimsy arcade in 1910.
or Mammas, was a popular local saint
in Cyprus during the middle ages, and his name is associated with many
of the older churches in the island. Several Orthodox saints and martyrs
of this name occur in the ancient martyrologies, and of both sexes, but
which particular St. Mammas is commemorated in Cyprus is not known.