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UNESCO status push for cultural treasures

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Deputy Minister of Culture Vassiliki Kassianidou is committed to promoting some of the island’s cultural heritage monuments on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites to boost its attractiveness.

In an interview with Phileleftheros daily, Kassianidou acknowledged that Cyprus hasn’t done little in recent years to promote its cultural heritage, wowing to reverse the practice during her term at the helm of the nascent ministry.

Some 15 years have passed since Cyprus last had a heritage site included in UNESCO’s list, while important landmarks have been waiting for authorities to push through their applications.

The list also includes two important sites in the coastal town of Larnaca, for which the local Tourism Board has been demanding their inclusion on the prestigious UNESCO list for over a decade.

They are the church of Panayia tis Angeloktistis in Kiti, the complex of the salt lakes and the Hala Sultan Tekke.

As regards Panayia Angeloktistis, in which a unique early Christian mosaic of the 6th century is preserved, the application file has been on UNESCO’s tentative Lists of States Parties since 2015.

The same year, the Department of Antiquities also decided to advance the application for the salt lakes and Hala Sultan Tekke considered one of the most important places of worship for Muslims.

Hala Sultan Tekke, or the Mosque of Umm Haram, was the wife of Ubada bin al-Samit, a companion of the Islamic prophet Muhammad and foster sister of Muhammad’s mother, Aminah bint Wahb.

Hala Sultan Tekke complex comprises a mosque, mausoleum, minaret, and cemetery and is considered the world’s third holiest place for Muslims.

Asked when the applications for monuments on the waiting list are expected to be submitted, Kassianidou said that procedures have been set in motion.

“We have already taken the first steps to strengthen our presence in the UNESCO commissions, and one of the issues we have started to see concerns backlog over are world heritage monuments, which are on the waiting list,” said Kassianidou.

She said 11 monuments and sites are on the waiting list, among them the Mathiatis Mine and some religious sites across the island.