Did you know

09 Απρ 2024

Did you know? The Palazzo

Just after the death of James II, better known as James the Bastard, the last of the Lusignan kings and husband of Caterina Cornaro, the bereaved queen realised that she was now the last stumbling block in Venice’s plan to acquire the island.

From 1473-1476 Caterina Cornaro lived in the Lusignan Palace of Famagusta although deprived of the honours due to her title and sufficient funds according to her rank. The people of Famagusta supported their queen although disorder often resulted in bloodshed. She had lost her husband under suspicious circumstances; she had found her newborn son dead in its crib; one of her counsellors, Paolo Zappo, was assassinated and her doctor was slaughtered to pieces by Venetian conspirators. But it was when a slave with a dagger broke into the Queen’s bedroom that Caterina, frightened and intimidated, decided to hand the palace over to the Venetian Provveditore. She went to live close by in a new and smaller palace.

The engraving of the siege of Famagusta by Gibellino shows to the north of the Lusignan palace and on the same alignment, a second palace of almost the same size entitled “palazzo de la regnina”, clearly meant for “regina”. This was presumably the private house of Caterina Cornaro. But further to the east, on a parallel street, there can still be seen a palace façade which it would be more plausible to identify with the building indicated by Gibellino. The monumental gate, known as Bulwer’s Arch, could have been the entrance of this majestic building. Further down the street, but very near, stands another edifice, in a later style. Its solid façade is pierced by a semicircular-arched gateway to the right and left of which are rectangular windows. Their lintels are divided into thick voussoirs. There are bossages in groups of two on the voussoirs and also on the masonry courses of the jambs. Could this have been the Palazzo de la Regina? Or could this have been an extension of the palazzo with the monumental arch? Various antiquarians tried to answer. Many people saw the value of the monuments and tried to protect them.

Photograph from the archives of Camille Enlart.

© Costas and Rita Severis Foundation

The ‘Did You Know’ series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus) and the Active Citizens Fund.

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