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Armenian Church in occupied Nicosia to be restored December 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Cyprus Occupied, Religion & Faith.
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An Armenian Church in occupied Nicosia that was left to the mercy of time and had become overrun by squatters will soon be restored.

According to literary sources, Sourp Asdvadzadzin Church, which shares its name with the church on Armenias Avenue in free Nicosia, is a 13th-century Gothic building dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

It was formerly the chapel of the mediaeval Benedictine nunnery of Notre Dame de Tyr and the church’s floor was once covered with engraved tombstones of knights in armour and ladies in the costume of the period.

The outer arches on the north appear to be unfinished work from a later period. To the east of the arches is the sarcophagus of Lady Dampierre, the Abbess of the nunnery. The nunnery’s main building is attached to the east of the church. It is the private residence of the heirs of Signor Hayrabed Melikian and has more than 40 rooms.

The buildings in the Church yard were used for a school including a kindergarten but, following national unrest, all fell into disuse and disrepair in 1963. The buildings have since then been targeted by squatters although employees of occupied Nicosia’s so-called “municipality” earlier this month cleared the unwanted residents out and have arranged for the buildings to be fenced off.

The Armenian community’s representative in Parliament Vartkes Mahdessian this week said that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) was funding he entire restoration project. The exact budget to be used is not yet known.

“I have had several meetings with UNDP officials and have been greatly impressed by their vision, including that of architect and project coordinator Pelin Maneoglu,” Mahdessian said. “Tenders will be requested during 2007,” he added.

The representative continued that interested companies would have to have the necessary expertise to restore the historically and religiously important building, which includes the church, a school and prelature, to its original glory. Mahdessian said that it was hoped that work would be completed by December 2008 and that the biggest difficulty so far was removing the squatters that had taken over the buildings.

“The church and other buildings have been redundant since 1963,” he said. “They are in no-man’s land.”

This location means that it is not clear whether or not the church will be able to begin operating as such even once renovation and restoration is completed. Currently, Mahdessian is helping to collect old photographs of the church and other buildings to assist the architects and contractors, when selected, in their work.

“We are most interested in photographs of their interiors,” he said. Commenting on the project, UNDP Action for Cooperation and Trust said the following: “It is important to remember that the Armenian Church and Monastery were proclaimed as ancient monuments over 30 years ago, and some of these buildings date back to the 13th century. The use of the church stopped during the mid-1960s and fell into a state of disrepair over the years. UNDP’s initiative Action for Cooperation and Trust (ACT) aims to create opportunities for the different communities on the island to work together, and through cooperation on practical initiatives which benefit all Cypriots, find a means to build mutual understanding.

“The protection and preservation of Cyprus’ cultural heritage goes to the heart of this objective. Indeed the Armenian Church and Monastery was selected for preservation precisely because it provides a unique opportunity to help Cyprus’ diverse communities reach a common purpose to preserve a site of great historic and cultural significance for the whole island. The project became a part of our cultural heritage portfolio due to its monumental value. The work will aim to preserve the monument and ensure that its great historic and cultural value is not lost for ever.”

The UNDP continued that ACT would, in addition, be supporting restoration work for four other cultural heritage sites starting in the New Year: the Grand Turkish Bath, Peristerona House, Ayios Neophytos Church in Troulli and the Dukkanlaronu Mosque. “The restoration of three other sites, to be funded through ACT, is currently under negotiation,” the statement said.

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Athens Mayor Lights Christmas Tree December 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greek Culture.
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Athens Mayor Lights Christmas Tree at Syntagma Square

Athens Mayor, Thodoros Behrakis on Thursday night lit the large Christmas tree at Syntagma Square, thus signaling the start of festive events by Athens’ Municipality.

The festive scene is accompanied by the established carrousel and the “Sugar City” which offers candy to all.

This year Santa Claus invites all the children to his “Work-shop”, a small unique house, and receives the children. In the rooms of the house, the children see his helpers, the small elves, making toys. The 80-seat carrousel is comprised of small horses and carts.

Access to Greece December 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Arts Events Greece, Arts Exhibitions Greece.
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ACCESS TO GREECE

The National Gallery has launched its website (www.nationalgallery.gr), where one can find information on modern Greek painting, the museum’s history and its collections.

Contemporary experimental artistic tendencies in Greek and international art, are presented at the National Museum of Contemporary Art (www.emst.gr).

Greek Islands are favorites December 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Greece, Greece Islands, Greece Islands Aegean, Greece Islands Ionian, Hotels Greece.
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In a report on worldwide vacation reader preferences, the November issue of the influential Conde Nast Traveller magazine lists the Greek Aegean islands of Mykonos and the Cyclades as first of the top ten European choices, with a rating of 77.4%.

The island of Crete (71.6%) is in fifth place; Rhodes (69.1%) in eighth place; and Corfu (67.9%) in tenth place.

Among the top 75 European resort hotels, “Katikies”, on the island of Santorini, occupies 21st place, with a rating of 92.3%, above such renowned hotels as Cipriani and Gritti Palace in Venice, and the Ritz hotels in Paris and Madrid.

Science library enters world of digital info December 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life Greek, Technology.
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The Science and Technology Library at the National Research Foundation in Athens has launched a digital catalog, expanded its study-space capacity, and included free Internet. Is the future of libraries in the digital world?

Probably yes, because the speed, quantity and complexity of new publications are all so substantial that any other approach would prove helplessly dysfunctional. In this information age, access to information is not accessible by all, at least for the time being. Electronic libraries are currently working on it. Having just launched its electronic library, the Science and Technology Library at the National Research Foundation in Athens is headed the way of the digital world.

Development of the foundation’s electronic library, a project whose cost has so far exceeded 10 million euro, began in 1997. Today, the library’s datebase includes over 12,000 volumes of scientific magazines by some of the world’s biggest publishers, 3,000 electronic books covering a wide variety of scientific fields, as well as 27 Greek databases for science and technology.

The library, founded 25 years ago, has just expanded its public study-space capacity from 25 to 100 places. It also offers free Internet access to visitors.

The library also provides the latest printed editions of over 300 scientific magazines and an extensive archive of back issues, free of cost for all members.

Related Links > http://www.eie.gr/index-en.html

Actor returns with ‘Don Carlos’ December 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Stage & Theater.
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The play ‘Don Carlos’ is inspired by real people and events that took place during the 16th century in the court of Philip II, king of Spain.

Nikitas Tsakiroglou, artistic director of the National Theater of Northern Greece, has returned to the stage after a two-year break. The acclaimed Greek actor and director is playing one of the lead parts in the theater company’s largest production this season, Friedrich Schiller’s «Don Carlos,» which opened at Thessaloniki’s Vassiliko (Royal) Theater last Friday.

Tsakiroglou plays the part of King Philip II in the play which the National Theater of Northern Greece is staging for the first time. Happy to return to the stage, the artistic director admitted he had missed it. «After spending 48 years on stage, I felt like an orphan,» he said at a recent press conference and pointed out that for the duration of the play he will try to bridge his two obligations, those of an artistic director and an actor.

The play is inspired by real people and events that took place during the 16th century in the court of Philip II, king of Spain. It is a family drama with political extensions. The tyranny of power and the clash between the church and the state cause fear and lead to the popular revolt in Flanders. Set against this background, the king falls out with his son, the heir to the throne, over the queen of France.

«It is a cynical and harsh play, but at the same time it is a hymn to freedom and a cry against tyranny, though not against the tyrant,» wrote the director, Constantinos Arvanitakis, in his introductory note.

The production uses the translation of Marlena Georgiadi and also stars Manos Gavras as Don Carlos, Alekos Syssovitis as Rodrigo and Kleio-Danae Othonaiou as Queen Isabella. The sets and costumes are by Eleni Manolopoulou.

At the The Vassiliko Theater, White Tower Square, Thessaloniki, tel 2310 288000. Performances take place Wednesdays to Saturdays at 9 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m., with additional shows on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 6 p.m.

Besson back behind the camera for two new films December 18, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life Greek.
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Producer/director presents ‘Arthur and the Invisibles,’ ‘Angela-A’

Luc Besson will be in town for the official premiere of his family fantasy ‘Arthur and the Invisibles.’

After a six-year absence from directing, distinguished filmmaker Luc Besson is back with two new productions, opening in Athens within two weeks of one another. The French director is in the Greek capital today for the official premiere of his film “Arthur and the Invisibles” which will open at theaters on Thursday.

It is a family production which blends real actors with animation and stars young Freddie Highmore (from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) and Mia Farrow. Unfortunately, the Greek release will not feature the original voices of Madonna, David Bowie and Snoop Dogg, because cinemas will only screen the version dubbed into Greek.

The films tells the story of 10-year-old Arthur, who goes in search of a much-fabled hidden treasure in the land of the Minimoys, tiny people who live in complete harmony with nature, in order to save his grandfather’s house from demolition.

Besson has written four books about Arthur’s adventures, which have sold more than a million copies in 30 countries. It is a huge production by European standards and took five years and 65 million euros to complete it.

Production is now Luc Besson’s main occupation. The 47-year-old creator of hits including “Nikita,” “Le Grand Bleu” and “The Fifth Element” has produced 80 French and French-American films, with an emphasis on action movies, including “The Transporter,” “Danny the Dog” and “Yakamashi,” but has also participated in films such as “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada.” He says that the reason why he has been able to produce such a variety of different films is because he has never gone into learning the details of how the great masters of film work, but, rather, has chosen films that reflect his own world.

On January 4, an adult version of Besson’s world will hit Greek cinemas with the premier of “Angel-A,” an erotic fantasy comedy drama about a mismatched criminal couple. Andre is performed by the pint-sized comic Jamel Debbouze and Angel-A by the extremely tall Danish actress Rie Rasmussen. According to past statements made by Besson, this is to be his last film as a director.

Spontaneity and force are two traits that can be distinguished throughout Besson’s work, both characteristics that can probably be explained by his childhood. Besson traveled constantly with his parents, both of whom were diving instructors. As a boy he lived in many different parts of the world, and even in Greece for a short time. “People often say that I am still a child at heart,” he has said in previous statements. “In fact I think it is just that my childhood is still very accessible to me. We were all children once. All we need to do is respect that fact.”