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Garden at the Rear. The Architectural Vernacular of the Secret Garden in Nicosia and the Mediterranean.

  1. Christos Papastergiou


From Strabo, the Greek geographer who visited Cyprus in the first Century BC, until the Archduke Louis Savator of Austria, a member of the Hapsburg Royal family who visited Cyprus in 1873, recorded travelogues repeatedly refer to the gardens of Nicosia as an identifying element of the city. Either in the form of productive orchards during the Lusignan Era, a compound of exotic plants and animals during the Venetian Rule or an enclosed- mystical domestic space with cisterns and small hammams during the Ottoman Rule, gardens hidden at the rear of the house and aside of the daily domestic routines, have claimed their historical place in the Cypriot capital city as heterotopic islands referring mainly to the stimulation of senses. By looking at historical documents and surviving historical gardens such as that of the Dragoman Kornesios, the article wants to highlight the ‘rear’ placement of this architectural element that also reflects its ‘rear’ function. The garden becomes the part of the domestic space that hosts, protects and cultivates all the informal activities of the domestic life. The purpose of this article is to explore the ‘rear’ function of the domestic gardens of Nicosia in their historical context, as well as investigate its role as an element that still survives today and identifies the relation of architecture with the place, possibly bearing possibilities of resistance to cultural homogenisation.




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