Within the framework of the Invisible Heritage – Analysis and Technology (IH-AT) project, led by the Science and Technology in Archaeology and Culture Research Center (STARC) of The Cyprus Institute, the 3D physical replicas of the UNESCO-listed “Painted Churches in the Troodos Region” were donated to the visually impaired community in Cyprus during a special ceremony which took place on the 7th of December 2022 at the School of the Blind “Agios Varnavas” in Nicosia.

The IH-AT project focused on the multidisciplinary study of the UNESCO-listed churches through a wide array of digital non-destructive technologies used to analyse their structures and lost features. For the exploitation and visualization of the extensive database by the scientific community and the public at large, a web portal comprised of reliable and efficient technology-ready tools has been developed (http://ihat.cyi.ac.cy). 

In line with the concept of social integration to create an inclusive society, “a society for all”, and in order to achieve a real and long-lasting impact behind the scope of the project, the digital models of the UNESCO churches have been 3D printed and donated to local stakeholders to be installed in several locations across the island.

Now, visually impaired visitors will have the opportunity to improve their spatial understanding on site through a tactile experience.

Each installation comprises the external, the internal and a section of each of the church. The 3D replicas will help users to orient and capture the physical environment around them in a more comprehensive way, improving the accessibility of the site. Additionally, braille boards and QR codes provide extra explicatory material and guidance. Each audio guide is currently available in Greek and English.

The IH-AT project was co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and the Republic of Cyprus through the Research and Innovation Foundation, with the support of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, the School of the Blind “Agios Varnavas” of Nicosia. The informative boards featuring braille signs were designed and manufactured with the financial support of the Embassy of Italy in Cyprus.

Present at the ceremony were H.E. the Ambassador of Italy Mrs. Federica Ferrari-Bravo, the Director of the Department of Antiquities, Dr Marina Solomidou-Ieronymidou, CyI Associate Research Scientist Dr Dante Abate, STARC Interim Director, Prof. Michel Menu, the Director of the School of the Blind “Agios Varnavas”, Mrs. Kika Kassini, and Head of Operations, Research and Innovation Foundation (RIF), Ms. Marilena Paraskeva.

Source: The Cyprus Institute I News (https://bit.ly/3FjdyQZ)