Quand on a 17 ans

quand on a 17 ans Another one of these great French movies: quand on a 17 ans (being 17). French art means that the story is multilayered; the story does not run from one action to the other but shows the diversity of events happening in just a few people’s lifes in a mountain village high in the Pyrenees. That setting is great, absolutely well chosen and beautifully exploited. You’ll see the nature of high mountains in different seasons. The very best scenery is at night, in the snow white mountains and the moon shining, when one of the main characters takes a bath in a lake reflecting the peak and the trees.
The main story is about two young guys who seem to hate each other, but guess what at the end of the movie… 🙂 in that sense it is a quite romantic movie where ‘tout va bien qui finit bien’. The road to that good ending has enough complexity in it to keep the spectator interested. Apart from that, there is life in the movie and death and all human weaknesses and anxieties as they can be lived, even high up in the mountains. Worth watching!

Northern Cyprus heritage (18) Panagia Melandrina church

panagia melandrina churchFinally we found the Panagia Melandrina church. We would not have managed without the help of an only-Turkish speaking but all-knowing worker at the Belediye (city hall) of Esentepe : friendly and enthusiast to help us out. After a search of several days for the Panagia Melandrina church, it was a joy to find it but a disappoinment to see it. UNDP and EU invested recently in ‘emergency measures’ to save this church (see UNDP-info Panagia Melandrina). I really wonder why they chose this church out of so many churches that could benefit from their time and effort.
melandrina church esentepe
The Panagia Melandrina church lies in the middle of bushes and fields not far from the coast at the harbour location of Esentepe and it is in fact a ruin. It goes back to the 15th century and did have wall paintings as they were reported by an historian in 1896 but those have disappeared long ago. The monastery this church was part of, was active till around 1940. The efforts and investment of the UNDP and EU mean that the church is prevented from total disaster with countless wooden polls : see the photographs.
panagia melandrina church  panagia melandrina church
A roof was made and it is covered in plastic (partly torn already), also two of the outside ailes are covered in plastic. One wonders whether that does any good to the fragile remains, especially in humid times. Unless you are interested in sites like these anyway, there is not one reason I could think of to recommend to you a visit to the Panagia Melandrina church. There are a lot of other, more beautiful and less annoying antiquities to see in Cyprus.
Both the UNDP-findings and information on sites like this site indicate that the church may be built on an older temple or other remains. That is very interesting as this is also the area where some of the rather unknown Mezar Houses, the underground houses of the 10th century would have been found. In some cases, one can go for what one can see. In this case, I’d spend my time and investment on what could be underneath the surface…
melandrina church kibris

Northern Cyprus heritage (17) Abadi church

abadi church northern cyprusWe were looking for the Melendirina church – a church that was on an urgent list for reparation on UNDP initiative in 2012 – when we came across the Abadi church. At first we did not know at all what kind of church it was; there is absolutely a lack of information about the churches in the Esentepe / Agios Ambrosius area. Any information you look for leads you to the Antiphonitis monastery – see our blogs Panagia Eleousa church and Agios Mamas church for the rest, churches seem to be considered uninteresting or non-existent. That is such a pity as we showed in the blogs 14, 15 and 16 of this Northern Cyprus heritage series that there is a lot to be discovered. Esentepe is not a touristic area which might be the reason why it is so difficult to find out more about the specific sites.
It was not clear how to get to the Abadi church when we saw it, driving our way through the mountain forests above Esentepe; so we ended up by just parking the car among the trees and walked our way up to the mountain. And there it appeared, the Abadi chapel, in all its beauty. Alas it was closed so we could not see the inside. The doors of the chapel looked quite new which gave us (born from experience) the idea that there was nothing inside any more and that doors were placed recently to protect the last bits and pieces. Please try to enter one day and prove us wrong.
abadi church northern cyprus  abadi church northern cyprus
As we had no clue about the chapel, its name or origin, we concluded from the surroundings that it had had a courtyard with beautiful trees, so it was an important center, some time, some day. Later we read on internet that it had been a monastery that was ruined and  that a small church was built to replace the institute. So this is some kind of hidden secret in the middle of the forest on the hills above Esentepe / Agios Ambrosius…

 

Northern Cyprus heritage (16) Panagia Eleousa church

panagia eleousa2Panagia Eleousa church in Tirmen/Trypimeni is another church that was turned into a mosque after the Turkish army took hold of Northern Cyprus in 1974. The church seems to be in a reasonable estate, just like the village itself that is not the wealthiest village to be found in the area either. The village lies right on the south side of the Pentadaktylos mountain range and overviews the Mesaoria plain that separates the Troodos mountains on the Greek side from the Pentadaktylos mountains on the Turkish side. Apparently the Mesaoria was a sea in very old times; so the symbolic separation was already there in history…
panagia eleousa church  panagia eleousa church
The only information that I could find about the church is that it was built in 1900. I was wondering about the tower, it seems to be a different style than the church, made from different materials, attached to the church externally from the side and put right in front of an opening fence; all this suggests that it was added later. The church is more beautiful without it. panagia eleousa church clock tower
The clocks from the church tower are missing. For the use of the mosque some small details were added like cleaning rooms and they are quite ugly.
If you have more info about this church, feel free to comment. In this Northern Cyprus heritage series there are other blogs showing churches that were turned into mosques after 1974, see Agios Ambrosius church and Agios Mamas church.

Northern Cyprus heritage (15) Agios Mamas church

agios mamas church bahceli In Bahceli (Kalograia), about 20 miles east from Girne, there is another church that was turned into a mosque at an early stage, already in 1975 so very short after the Turkish army took hold of the Northern part of Cyprus. It is the Agios Mamas church Bahceli, named after Saint Mamas who lived in the 3rd century and seemed to be quite brave – his best companion being a lion. Read some more about him at http://orthodoxwiki.org/Mamas_of_Caesarea .
From the outside the church seems to be in a reasonable stage – note that the village itself looks rather poor. Only the clock tower is at riskagios mamas church bahceli as the picture here shows. The clock itself is still there but seems to have fallen down and rest on the wall sides.
We have not seen the inside. I could not find a lot of information about this church at all. Those who know more (facts), feel welcome to comment.
Agios Mamas is not the only church in this region transformed into a mosque, read also Agios Ambrosius church , another blog about Tirmen/Trypimeni will follow.
agios mamas church bahceli    agios mamas church bahceli

Northern Cyprus heritage (14) Agios Ambrosius church

agios ambrosius church northern cyprus In Esentepe, a small town about 20 miles to the east of Girne, we find the Agios Ambrosius church that has been transformed into a mosque in 1978 already; this happened in more villages in this part of Northern Cyprus (other blogs will follow). Agios=Saint Ambrosius was a very influential bishop of Milan and a Doctor of the Church in the 4th century. The Agios Ambrosius church was built in 1867 out of yellow stones and characterizes very much the Byzantium architecture. It seems to be in quite a good state (we did not see the interior but the exterior looks fine) and in general inhabitants take care of the city center where it stands.
Actually with the peace talks between North and South Cyprus making progress, the question is raised what will happen to churches that were turned into a mosque. Time will tell… first bring the peace talks to a good end, then solve this too.     esentepe-ambrosius  esentepe-ambrosius2  esentepe-ambrosius3

Dheepan: an outstanding movie about refugees

dheepan movie Dheepan is somehow a ‘neutral’ movie about refugees as it concerns refugees from Sri Lanka; I worked with many of them in the ’90ties but today we concentrate on other regions as every reader knows. Technically this choice in the movie creates a healthy distance to emotions in actuality. And practically, it makes no difference. Refugees run for a reason, most often a quite serious one. And yes, they are surrounded by luck-seekers, criminals who have other reasons to flee and economic migrants. Making the difference between one and the other is an ideal but in practice not very easy. However the movie is not about asylum policies and dilemmas, it is about how people flee and become a refugee and how they experience the country in which they arrive.
In this movie, the Sri Lanka refugees find a house and a job in the banlieue of Paris, in one of the worst banlieues – I think the movie maker even wanted to point out that the refugees run from a war to end up in another one. It is as much a complaint against the ‘drugs in banlieue’ situation as about the refugee situation. Specifically, the total lack of law enforcement (no police or authorities at all) surprises the public.
I think the movie is brilliant in the way it depicts the refugees. I recognized every emotion, both in daily life and in the history of violence and resistence that refugees from war and conflict areas bring with them – not as a choice but as a fact. My experience with that is both friendship and work and I found the movie Dheepan shiveringly realistic and very strong in the way of showing the emotional side.
As a former French teacher, I regretted that the refugees end up in England – to their satisfaction – and not somewhere else in France, a country I love. This is, of course, a biased view 🙂 Anyway the movie ends well, which in a world of problems is nice and more encouraging to go and watch the movie than the opposite.
What surprised me is that nowadays every discussion and debate in the Netherlands is about refugees but we were only 8 spectators: 8! in a large cinema. Sometimes I wonder how much indepth knowledge people want about reality – I see loads of over-emotional people and few people able to handle the complexity that comes with refugee issues. Let’s face reality even when it is not simple. Go watch the Dheepan movie, warmly recommended!

Amsterdam Heritage Days

amsterdam heritage days Today many ‘hidden’ monuments opened their doors, their treasures for the public in Amsterdam on the occasion of Amsterdam Heritage Days. Most of those monuments look like museums but they are not, they are used in ordinary working or private life every day. Imagine to live in places like that! For example the one on the picture (left), that by the way was only recently found: a ceiling dating back to 1585 (!), one of the oldest in Amsterdam and not comparable to anything that you have seen before…
Or the spectacular walls, mirrors and ceilings in the backpart of the Bartolotti house (1755) that is being restaured now to function as a museum and a place to gather.
huis bartolotti amsterdam heritage days  huis bartolotti 2 amsterdam heritage days Ok it was a very very rich guy who built this – he inherited loads of money from an uncle in Italy, this was not for everybody in Amsterdam at that time. He spent the money well, leaving us a heritage that makes people happy. We stood in a long row to enter this place…. but it was worth it. If you visit Amsterdam, keep an eye on this; most problably it will be officially opened as a museum somewhere in 2016.
hammerstein advocaten amsterdam heritage days Another spectacular monument is the Hammerstein Lawyers Office in the 17th century ‘Golden Curve’ of the Amsterdam canals. It is difficult to describe the beauty of that place. Imagine it was your office! 17th and 18th century paintings, mirrors, doors and fireplaces… The marble entrance to the stairs is completely original from the 17th century.hammerstein advocaten 2 amsterdam heritage days  hammerstein advocaten 3

Thanks to organisations like the National Musical Instrument Fund, the Hendrick de Keijser association and Hammerstein Lawyers, both tourists and locals could enjoy many hidden treasures in Amsterdam. Amsterdam Heritage Day is a great tradition.

Banana pancakes and the children of the sticky rice

banana pancakes and the children of the sticky rice Banana pancakes and the children of the sticky rice is a great documentary about two guys, or maybe an entire village in Laos in a period of starting tourism. The place is still ‘all natural’ and the first tourists arriving, mainly backpackers from France, Belgium and the Netherlands, are startled by the purity of the place. The village develops in many aspects and the two guys that are particularly followed in this documentary try to improve their life by offering touristic services. The road they go is so interesting!
The tourists themselves are also quite interesting, some of their conversations are recorded. They have their opinions about life in the village and how it develops and it does not seem to match a lot with the culture and desires of the villagers themselves. Although very sympathic, there was also a note of arrogance in their song.
From the point of view ‘image taking’ the documentary has quite some ‘vague’ moments, maybe nice as a hobby for the filmer but for spectators not always attractive I thought. Fortunately, many good and sharp moments offer enough compensation 😉 So go see this documentary now because usually this kind of movies do not stay long in the cinemas. More info: https://www.facebook.com/laosdocumentary

Taxi Teheran

taxi teheran  How to make a movie that is only playing in a taxi and does not bore any minute? Taxi Teheran is a succesfull try-out of that concept although not by free choice alone. Jafar Panahi, maker of the movie and also its main character has a history of struggling with censure and oppression in his country Iran. He is not allowed to make movies during 20 years and this movie, Taxi Teheran, was made secretly and smuggled out of the country.
The movie is very funny with many surprising moments, and it has a groundtune of sadness underneath. As such, it is very Iranian: Iranians usually are well developed, social, bright and full of life, they know how to make the best out of difficult circumstances. But that does not mean that they do not feel the difficult circumstances, especially the oppression.
In Taxi Teheran we see a wonderful mix of people entering and leaving Jafar Panahi’s taxi. Even the concept ‘taxi’ in Teheran is different from other countries and that in itself creates unexpected situations. Taxi Teheran shows a lot of interesting interaction between a variety of inhabitants of Teheran. And it gives some great insights in the well developed double face of Iran, in survival and creativity against the odds.

Adana archaeological museum: closed???

adana archeological museum   The Adana archaeological museum is one of the ten oldest museums in Turkey – opened already in 1924, the official government website mentions: www.adanamuze.gov.tr. You don’t need to speak Turkish to understand the unique pieces to be seen in this museum: “Neolitik, Kalkolitik, Bronz, Proto-Hitit, Hitit, Yunan, Roma, Bizans, Selçuk ve Osmanlı devirlerine ait eserlerinin yanı sıra, az miktarda Asur, Fenike ve Ermeni eseri….” But you can find some English information here: Adana_Archaeology_Museum and here, including beautiful pictures: adanaarchaelogical. Unfortunately that is all you will see as they closed this museum completely. I was in Adana for a trademission with our ambassador and I decided to book a later return ticket the next day, because I really wanted to see this museum. I found myself in front of a locked fence. ‘I will talk myself into it’, I thought. In Turkey, most things are possible if you are kind and you speak Turkish. But the guard at the fence was different: there was no way to see even a glimpse of the beauty in this museum. ‘There were not enough visitors’, he explained and ‘it is my responsibility, I cannot do it’.
In the meantime, I am reading the book Toprak from Buket Uzuner. I bought it at the airport in Istanbul, it was in the Top 10 of Turkish books. In that book a teacher says about the Hitite city of Çorum (page 31, sorry for failures in translation, my fault): “Children, if the Hitites had lived in a western country, I guarantee you, the world’s most important archeologists and historians would work there, all the world’s tourists would stream into the city. If the people of Çorum would become master of their local history, Çorum would already have developed as an international star with trade and book fair, food and tourism festivals on world level. Be sure children that if you want it, the Hitite heritage will attract as much attention as the Egyptian pyramids, an important jewel! (…)”
Need I say more. Heritage, a matter of neglect or a matter of joy and wealth.
Let’s keep hope that one day the museum will open again. It is not difficult to find, if you see this spectacular new Sabancι mosque, go around the corner and you have arrived.
sabanci mosque

 

 

Northern Cyprus heritage (13) Agios Trias Basilica

Northern Cyprus Heritage - Agios Trias Basilica 0  5th/6th century rests of the Agios Trias Basilica are found on the peninsula of the Northern Cypriot Karpaz close to the village of Sipahi which means: in the middle of nowhere. We were the only visitors but there was a most friendly guard who was happy to sell us a ticket for 5 TL, at that moment € 1,90 (it was before the 2015 elections, after which the Turkish lira devaluated). So the entrance price should not stop you and moreover the mosaics are very much worth a visit, they are amazing!
Northern Cyprus Heritage - Agios Trias Basilica 1  Northern Cyprus Heritage - Agios Trias Basilica 2  Northern Cyprus Heritage - Agios Trias Basilica 3  Northern Cyprus Heritage - Agios Trias Basilica 4  Northern Cyprus Heritage - Agios Trias Basilica5  Northern Cyprus Heritage - Agios Trias Basilica6
A great article with lots of information about this site can be found here: http://allansartworlds.sites.ucsc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/154/2015/03/Langdale-Basilica-of-Agias-Trias.pdf. This article published in 2009 talks about ‘lack of proper maintenance (page 2). Things have only got worse since that time. The unique mosaics lie there completely unprotected and this is not all… (reliable) rumour goes that the mosaics are regularly ‘cleaned’ with a high pressure washer.
In an earlier blog I wrote that the Greeks consider the Turks as barbarians – http://grethevangeffen.nl/2011/08/01/northern-cyprus-heritage-12-cultural-approach/ – for the way they deal with their heritage and that sometimes they are proven right in that opinion. This is one of those times, that they are proven right. I thought I’d faint when I heard about the high pressure washer…
Anyway this monument is still extremely beautiful with its unique mosaics so I’d hardly recommend a visit. Positive thinking: it might be one of the only moments you can actually and freely walk over 5th/6th century mosaics and live the feelings of people who did the same many centuries ago.