Notre Dame de Tyre is a 14th-century monastery in Nicosia. It is believed that the original church, known as the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Tyre, was founded in the 13th century as a principal convent following the fall of Jerusalem. In 1308, the Lusignan king, Henry II of Jerusalem, repaired the church after it was destroyed by an earthquake. As many of the nuns were Armenian in origin, it came under the Armenian Church before 1504.
In 1570, following the capture of Nicosia by the Ottomans, the keeping of the Paphos Gate, the church, and the surrounding area were handed over to the Armenians by Sultan Selim II.
The Armenian Prelature of Cyprus was housed next to the church, until the 1963-1964 intercommunal troubles, when it was taken over by extremist Turkish-Cypriots. In 1920 the descendants of Artin Melikian restored the church, and built the Melikian Elementary School on the grounds of the church. In 1938, the Ouzounian Elementary School was established by Dikran Ouzounian. There was also a kindergarten, originally built in 1902 and called Shoushanian.
In 1963, part of Nicosia was taken over by Turkish-Cypriot extremists, including the church complex. The church was trashed and illegal Turkish settlers moved in, causing further damage. In 2007, the area was sealed off and architects, historians and a committee met with the Armenian Ethnarchy to discuss renovation and refurbishment.
The existing building is gothic in style and consists of a square nave, with a semi-octagonal apse, cross vaults an arch covering the western part, a bell tower (built in 1860) and convent buildings to the north of the church. To the east of the nunnery buildings is the sarcophagus of Lady Dampierre, an Abbess of the nunnery. On the church floor are tombstones dating from the 14th and 15th centuries.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).