Dervishes and Women’s Rituals in Limassol, Cyprus

Women at a Well in Levka high resolution

Limassol has been shaped by its bodies of water. They are both nourishing in their abundance, as when the Garyllis forms a fertile plain between the sea and the mountains, and terrifying in their force, as when the same river is called the “Lykos” (“Wolf”) for its destructive floods. Sevina Floridou has been working with watery landscapes throughout Cyprus as an architect and researcher for many years, and has recently published a paper with the title “The Stones That Whisper: Dervishes and Women’s rituals in Limassol.” In this talk, she will begin with the Ottoman graves near Limassol Cami Kebir (“Great Mosque”), whose inscriptions tell of sailors who drowned at sea. We will also talk about the two shrines located between the harbor and the sea, dedicated to Ayia Thekla and to Pir Ali Dede, where the people of Limassol gathered to celebrate and mourn. Finally, we will speak about the technologies through which water was controlled and redirected, and the public spaces built around the fountains and baths towards which the water was channelled.

Sevina Floridou will be in conversation with Aliosha Bielenberg, a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley. The event will take place at 10am PST on Wednesday 29 March 2023 online. Please register at this link to access the event: Histories of Bahçes Episode with Sevina Floridou

Speaker bio:
Sevina Floridou is an architect and innovative cultural heritage practitioner based in Limassol, Cyprus. She received her MSc in Architecture in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1987, and specialized in historic preservation both in Bulgaria at the National Monuments of Culture in 1988 and as a Fulbright scholar at Cornell University in 1995. In her work, Floridou focuses on the interaction of multiple actors in and through built and natural landscapes. She has published research specifically on irrigation infrastructure, citizen-participatory architectural projects, and conflict and resilience in cities, among other topics, often with a focus on the interaction of the two main communities in Cyprus today. She has collaborated with a UNDP bicommunal conservation project and the Troodos Archaeological and Environmental Survey Project, and has worked as a practicing architect on a coastal walkway in Oroklini, a rural performance space called “The Olive Grove,” and multiple important restoration projects in Limassol and elsewhere. She continues to be active as both an architect and a researcher, with a current focus on the history and resilience of water in terraced landscapes.

bαhçές Histories* of Cyprus is a webinar series which highlights fresh and exciting work related to the social, cultural and political histories of Cyprus. Each month our editors discuss with academics, scholars and artists about their research and writing, followed by a Q&A session with the audience.

Photo: “Women at a well, Levka” by John Thomson, ‘Through Cyprus with the camera, in the autumn of 1878’ (London, 1879). Image courtesy of University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums, available at