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  • Writer's

no.2 - Documenting the Cypriot Modernist Architecture: Ap. Varnavas & St. Makarios Church, 1970's.

Updated: May 2, 2023

Neoptolemos Michaelidis is considered a prominent figure of 20th century architecture in Cyprus. From the early 1950s until his sudden death in a construction accident, he designed a large number of modern buildings. Both in Greece and Cyprus his architecture is particularly recognized for its purity and poetic simplicity, combined with the honest expression in the static structure. One of his most important completed buildings is the church of Apostle Barnabas and Saint Makarios in Nicosia (Agios Loukas Dasoupoleos) designed and built in the mid-70s.

3D LiDAR Scan & UAV Capture. April 2023. Animation courtesy of
UAV Photogrammetry of Ap.Varnavas & St. Makarios Church, 1970's, by
Restoration proccess at Athienou's former municipal market construction site
Belfry. Image courtesy of Maria & Neopt. Foundation
Belfry. Animation courtesy of

The bell tower stands out from the church, but it is built with the same materials as the church with references to the old signboards.

It develops upwards having openings to end in a unique cross, which highlights with its contrast even more the fluid form of the church.

It looks more like a well-rooted plant, symbolizing the harmonious growth and fruitfulness of the Christian church, being a work of art in itself.

In terms of construction, form, space and lighting, the church is a 'tour de force'.

The temple is majestic, at the same time simple, impressive but also incredibly mysterious. With dramatic simplicity dynamic curves combine with troughs and domes. Natural light is channeled through the openings in a supernatural way, which transforms the interior into an intensely poetic space.___

Ap. Varnavas & St. Makarios Church, West Elevation, April 2023. Image courtesy of
Ap. Varnavas & St. Makarios Church, North Elevation. April 2023. Image courtesy of

In its entirety, the composition is a station in the search for an alternative continuity in the history of ecclesiastical architecture, which in the 20th century has locally declined. At a time when the modern churches in Cyprus as a whole are basically poor imitations of the cruciform form of the Byzantine church and lack the search for the basic principles of the intellectual space, the mentioned church has succeeded in a completely modest way to open new fields in the interpretation of Orthodoxy religiosity.

text & imagery citation:

1. Charis Hadjivasiliou & Christis Loizides. "Outrage - A minor masterpiece of modern church building in Nicosia, By one of Cyprus' most distinguished architects, is being ruined by unsympethatic alterations", The Architectural Review, December 1994, p. 17/12.

2. Rina Katselli. 'Neoptolemos Michaelides The Architect. A' Biography. Folklore group of Kyrenia, 2011, p.246,248.

4. Thumbnail animation: images courtesy of Maria & Neoptolemos Michaelides Foundation.

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