Uneasy but Shared Heritage
Modern Architecture on A Divided Island
*The list is not exhaustive and by no means aims to intentionally exclude other cases that may also be considered paradigmatic. The selection was based on various parameters related to the research project's purposes and we are more than happy to expand as appropriate. More case studies will be included in the USHer app.
1. Berengaria Hotel
Troodos region (1931)
Built during the twilight of the British colonial period by the British architect W. D. Caröe, this hotel was renovated and expanded in 1967 to include a pool area designed by the local office of Fotis I. Colakides, demonstrating a modernist approach. The hotel benefited from government support of tourism and remained in operation during the turbulent 1970s, but it was abandoned in 1984 for various reasons. Occasionally, there have been proposals for the hotel’s restoration with the most recent in December 2020 when a new buyer acquired the property with the intention to return it to its past glory.
2. Dome Hotel
One of the first luxury hotels built on the island during the British colonial period, the hotel was renovated in the early 1950s by Neoptolemos Michaelides. It has been renovated several times since then, however, the Dome Hotel retains its name to date and it is currently operative under the Evkaf Foundation (a philanthropic organisation responsible for cultural preservation on the northern side of the island).
3. Ledra Palace
Also built during the colonial period, the Ledra Palace Hotel has been the "gem" of the island's capital for decades. In an effort to help this midland hotel compete with the expanding trend in coastline tourism, it was renovated in 1964, with a major addition of a swimming pool area, also designed by Fotis I. Colakides. The hotel turned into a military hotspot during the 1974 strife, and since then, parts of it have served as the headquarters for the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP). However, the hotel’s decay is evident, as are the high renovation costs that postpone further action.
4. Grecian Hotel
One of the earliest hotels on the Varosha waterfront, the Grecian Hotel was designed by Neoptolemos Michaelides. The hotel’s years of abandonment in the fenced-off area of Varosha and the loss of its past glory negates the singular narrative of one prevailing community. The Grecian is seen to represent new dynamics that encapsulate the nostalgia of initial users; the resentment of the area’s current inhabitants who were also denied access to the fenced-off part of Varosha; and the ruination and decay that enabled nature and wildlife to take over.
5. Aspelia Hotel
This tourism venture was an initiative driven by the Christian Orthodox Church, a key landowner on the island which included in the resort complex a church, designed by J&A Philippou and Theo David that aspired to modernist principles of pure geometry, deviating from the traditional Byzantine typology. The hotel, like the Grecian, is currently abandoned and in decay in the area of Varosha.
6. Amathus Beach Hotel
The design of this hotel involved the renowned international firm of The Architects Collaborative International Inc. and it is a prime example of modernist explorations in relation to the locale. Of the most recent alterations to the original design is the opening of random small windows in the hotel’s two solid masonry end walls, which were purposefully constructed as such to give the impression of a ‘bridge’ in contrast to the transparency of the building’s elongated sides.
7. Salamis Bay
The largest hotel complex in Cyprus in the 1970s, the Salamis Bay was praised by the press as ‘the first of its kind in the Middle East'. It was one of the few foreign hotel investments then in Cyprus, owned by Leonard Fairclough LTD even though designed by two local architectural firms, Economou Architects and Engineers and J&A Philippou. The hotel remained operative after the 1974 division, even if its operation was confirmed to be without Fairclough’s consent. By 1977 it became the first casino in Cyprus. Several refurbishments have occurred since then, especially because the hotel was looted during the invasion.
8. Golden Sands
Of the largest hotel complexes in construction before 1974, the Golden Sands was founded and owned by the state. An ambitious project that set a new trend in resort architecture, the complex was designed by the British firm Garnett, Cloughley, and Blakemore in collaboration with local architects J&A Philippou in the bustling area of Varosha. After its closure in 1974, the hotel was entwined within bicommunal initiatives that re-imagined Varosha as an open-air museum and dark tourism attraction, revealing new levels of complexity and unfolding several stories beyond ethnic separation that are necessary to consider when approaching this hotel as heritage.
9. Mare Monte Hotel
Designed by the local architectural firm Takis Zempylas & Diomides Kythreotis, the Mare Monte Hotel overlaps both processes of militarisation and reuse in different time periods. In 1974 the hotel became temporarily a UN territory until the population exchange that divided the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and soon thereafter was abandoned to decay. It was incorporated in ‘tour lists’ compiled by British travel agencies visiting ‘seized hotels’, while in 2007, it was leased to a company currently operating in Kyrenia, which reopened the hotel, expanding its use to a casino.
10. Zephyros Hotel
Designed by J+P Paraskevaides, Zephyros was completed in 1974, but soon after, it was bombed by Turkish air forces. It remained abandoned for several years, however, nowadays the hotel’s abstract modern aesthetic stands in contrast to the rich ornamentation introduced in its renovation during the 2000s, raising issues that are associated with the island’s conflict, namely, the instrumentalization of distinctive architectural elements in order for one identity to dominate over another.