Cyprus Digital Heritage: "Journey Through Time at Othello Tower" VR Event Transcends History and Imagination
September 11, 2023
Nicosia, September 10th — In a project funded by the European Union (EU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage (TCCH), the iconic Othello Tower/Citadel in the Famagusta area played host to a captivating and educational event that transported attendees on a journey through time. The “Storytelling and Virtual Reality” event was tailored for children aged 10 to 14 years old, offering an immersive blend of history, storytelling, interactive entertainment, and creative challenges.
In a heart-warming display, the winners of the Digital Heritage competition that took place on Europe Day 2023 came together to embark on a journey to one of Cyprus' cultural heritage sites. Facilitated by the TCCH Heritage Youth Ambassadors and an expert storyteller, this bicommunal event celebrated the shared history and cultural richness of the island, fostering connections and friendships.
Mr Kjartan Björnsson, Deputy Director in DG Reform & Head of Unit for Cyprus Settlement Support, who was present at the event expressed his excitement about using digital tools to make a key monument of Cypriot cultural heritage even more accessible and relevant for all Cypriots including notably its children. Björnsson stated that ‘’the European Union is proud to provide the necessary support for making sure that the rich culture of the island will continue to transcend across generations.’’
According to Jakhongir Khaydarov, Head of UNDP Cyprus, "This event signifies our commitment to preserving and celebrating Cyprus' cultural heritage. Through innovative collaborations like this, we bridge the past and present, fostering understanding and appreciation among our youth."
Attendees were treated to an experience that blended the historical charm of Othello Tower with the modern technological innovation of Virtual Reality. Cutting-edge Virtual Reality technology allowed attendees to virtually explore diverse cultural heritage sites across Cyprus through the Cyprusdigitalheritage.com website; participants were able to experience the island's vibrant past in a whole new dimension.
Its importance and a sense of age and mystery are evident when one walks through the portals of the citadel - with the Lion of Venice still presiding after hundreds of years.
The citadel consists of wall fortifications, connecting walls and four remaining towers (originally eight). These elements are in various states of decay from ruin to complete walls and rib vaulting. The monument comprises of two structures one inside the other. The outer Venetian fortifications that date from 1492 were constructed around the earlier Lusignan fortification from the 14th century.
The conservation works, started in May 2014 and were completed in July 2015, they focused mainly on emergency masonry stabilisation works to walls, arches and other unstable sections. Areas where losses/collapses had occurred over the years were strengthened. A proper drainage system was constructed to canalise and take away water, which was one of the most damaging causes of deterioration for the Tower/Citadel. New roof layers were installed with compatible materials to avoid future rainwater infiltration. Visitors’ information features were also provided as well as accessibility at ground level and sanitation facilities for persons with disabilities.
The site was re-opened to public access in July 2015. The project was funded by the European Union and implemented by the UNDP in partnership with the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage.
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