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21 October - 21 October 2021

This year marks the 450th anniversary of the fall of Cyprus to Ottoman rule after the surrender of Famagusta to the enemy, and a breach of the terms of surrender, in August 1571. Two months later, the allied Christian powers would avenge the Ottomans on the loss of Cyprus: on 7 October 1571 the allied Christian powers of Europe (Sacra Liga, Holy League) engaged the Ottoman fleet in the Bay of Corinth, near the Echinades, known as Curzolari in Western sources. At the dawn of the 7th of October 1571, the Christians obtained an impressive victory over the enemy. Commenting on the Naval Battle of Nafpaktos (also known by this Venetian name, Lepanto) French admiral Jurien Gravière had named it the third, until then, greatest naval battle in the world, after the Naval Battles of Salamis and Aktion. The clash between Islam and Christianity was ruthless and merciless. The role of Spanish military forces was significant as well as the contribution of fully equipped Venetian galleys with warharderned crews. According to sources, within no more than five hours, the battle had leaned in favour of the Holy League. Mostly Greeks had fought in the Naval Battle of Nafpaktos, but also members of Cypriot families: the Sygletikoi, the Paleologoi, the Benendetti etc.


Of note is the fact that the head admiral of the triumphant Venetian Fleet was Sebastian Venier, who went on to become a doge. Venier’s appointment in Cyprus as Proveditor-General during 1557-1558 was until recently unknown. Among his most memorable contributions during his tenure in Cyprus was the initiative to repair St Lazarus church in Larnaka.


Cyprus, after the failure of the coalition of Christian powers to defend it, fell entirely under Ottoman rule. The Spanish and Venetian fleet was too late to sail to the Eastern Mediterranean and therefore never reached Cyprus. The defenders of Famagusta, following a merciless siege of many months, were eventually forced to surrender the city after negotiations with the Ottomans and the ensuing tragic events. The Christian triumph at the Naval Battle of Nafpaktos would inflict great harm on the enemy for the loss of Christian Cyprus. The importance of Cyprus’ geographical location comes forth through the Sultan’s reputed remark to the Venetian Bailo in Constantinople after the victory of the Holy League in Nafpaktos: “By destroying our fleet in Nafpaktos” the Sultan reportedly said, “you have only pulled out a hair from our beard. We, on the contrary, by conquering Cyprus, have taken from you an arm”.


Free admission


On the nights of the event, the museums and exhibitions of the Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation will be open until midnight.


All protective measures recommended by state guidelines for the health and safety of visitors and employees will apply during the event.


Photographs and/or video will be taken at the events. The images of people attending the events may be used for publicity purposes or be forwarded to the Mass Media or be posted online. By taking part in this event, the public grants organisers the right to use the images resulting from the photography or video filming.