This proposal is a co-sponsorship between HTC, the Kyrenia Municipality and ARUCAD University of Creative Arts and Design.
We aim to give new life to one of the key ‘jewels in the crown’ of the island: the Kyrenia Castle. In this way, we hope to make a significant contribution to the ‘Year of Cultural Heritage in Europe’ declared by the Parliament in Brussels.
Famous for its thrilling two millennia history of pirates, conquerors, sieges and battles, Kyrenia Castle has attained more recent fame through the Assassin’s Creed video game saga.
The Arkin Innovation Hub will manage the work of our internationally reputed team to create virtual and augmented experiences in one of the most visited tourist attractions of the island for the benefit of the local community, the island of Cyprus, the region and the global community of visitors, tourists, academics, students and those interested in bringing cultural heritage and the past to life.
With the aid of 3D digital reconstruction and movies layered over volumetric 360 degrees footage, we will be able to bring the visitor inside the incredible story of the castle. A chroma-keyed actor added to the 360-degree footage will be the guide for the entire visit explaining historical events and the stories of all the visitors to the castle over the years.
Presently there are no formal ties between our set of VR exhibits and Ubisoft®. However, the production qualities of Assassin’s Creed make it an inspiring point of reference to express the interactive nature of this proposal.
The interaction with the visitor will take place through interactive exhibit apparatus built in AISI 316 steel. These stations consist of 3 parts: a steering wheel that can twist 360 degrees on the horizontal plane and incline 90 degrees on the vertical axis.
The remaining two parts are consecutive tubes with a height adjustment system which is mechanically similar to fitness machines. The apparatus will be adjustable to heights that are comfortable for most adults and children, as well as wheelchair accessible.
Both the steering movement and the inclination will be based on Nylon friction brakes which will be regulated according to the desired friction with screws and for regular maintenance.
The soundtrack, properly edited with voices and sound will come from a directional speaker by Museum Tools Secret Sound®. The speaker creates a directional cylindrical-shaped sound which can be audible only to the user of that station.
The immersive experience will be designed to create a sense of “being there” with mise-en-scene including actors, costumes, sets, lighting and props designed to evoke each of the historic periods for which the castle is famous.
Actors will relate the stories in a loop so that visitors can step in at any moment without losing the thread of the story. The actors will introduce and describe themselves and their stories relating to the castle and they will prompt interactions that enable visitors to connect with other virtual elements within the scene.
In addition to the main “guide” other cast members will be integrated into a rich cast of characters. Footage will be captured to create a multi-layered weave with background sets derived from the existing castle architecture using a variety of volumetric cameras according to the technical requirements of the set.
Actors will be superimposed onto a video alpha channel over a combination of 360 images, video, and augmented 3D assets that construct the castle environment according to the context of the period and subject matter of the presentation.
Actors will be shot with a Canon® camera, cut out in Adobe After Effects® and integrated using the chroma key blue screen.
Props and 3D animated objects will be modelled and generated with a combination of Maxon Cinema 4D®, Autodesk Maya®, and 3DS Max®.
The introduction station is the first of the series that the visitor will find located under the tunnel that gives access to the courtyard. The main character who guides the visual tour of the castle will introduce himself and describe a brief history of Kyrenia Castle, starting from its foundation by the Romans in the 1st Century and progressing with significant events and changes that took place. Some of the stations will be more specific with details about certain events and people, whereas other stations present a more general outline of the historical context of Kyrenia and its surrounding villages. Most of the stories are told by a local sailor. The stories will be told in dialogues between historical characters who had lived in the castle, or who had merely passed through Kyrenia at some point in its history. The characters range from Greek historians, to Lusignan travellers, from English kings to Ottoman emperors. The dialogue will be multi-lingual according to the choice of the viewer.
Passages in the southwest corner lead down to gun chambers and dungeons where medieval torture techniques were practised. The actor in this room is the executioner of the dungeon. Many prisoners were held in this room and our character will relate the story of two of them; Sir John Lombard and Sir John Visconti. King Hugh IV (1293–1359) imprisoned his two sons Peter and John in the dungeons. They were young boys who, seized with a desire to see the world, ran away and journeyed to Europe accompanied by their tutor, Sir John Lombard. They were captured and Sir John, on the orders of the king, had his hand and foot cut off before being hung on the gallows. Peter, who later became the king, and John were imprisoned only for three days. Sir John Visconti was thrown in the dungeon for accusing Eleanor of Aragon of cheating on King Peter I, when the king was on a crusade to Jerusalem. He was later moved to a dungeon in Buffavento Castle dungeon and stayed there without food till he died.
Kyrenia was used as a garrison town during Ottoman rule. Only artillerymen and their families resided in the castle. The courtyard was used as a prison, and this has considerably changed its original character. The stone-carved supports which can still be seen jutting out into the main courtyard probably supported a gallery or covered walk. Venetians were masterful sailors and traded silks, spices, jewels and copper with the rest of the Mediterranean. Venetians were known to refer to the Ottomans as, “merchants we cannot live without.” Sultan Selim II was devoted to the strong wine of Cyprus and was determined to become master of an island that produced so delicious a vintage. Officially, Sultan Selim II claimed the island as his own on the grounds of the tribute paid by the Venetians to the Mamluk Sultans of Egypt. On 27th June 1570, the Ottoman invasion force, which included some 350 to 400 ships and around 100,000 men, set sail for Cyprus. In September, the Ottoman navy landed near Larnaca and brutally captured Nicosia before moving on to Kyrenia which surrendered without a fight. After the year-long siege of Famagusta, the Ottomans achieved full control of Cyprus, with an estimated 56,000 killed or taken prisoner.
In 1191, King Richard I of England captured the castle during the third crusade, on his way to Tyre, Lebanon. He defeated Byzantine royalty Isaac Comnenos, ruler of Cyprus at the time. When King Richard I’s ship had to anchor off Limassol, Comnenos plundered the English vessels and caused trouble to the two ladies who were travelling with King Richard I, Queen Dowager and Berengaria of Navarre. Negotiations to release them broke down upon which, King Richard I captured the castles of Kyrenia, St. Hilarion and Buffavento.
n this hall, King Richard can be seen capturing the Byzantine Emperor and negotiating with Guy de Lusignan. King Richard sold the island to the Knights Templar. Shortly after, control of the island was handed over to Guy of Lusignan. The Lusignans enlarged the castle, built a wall and towers around the town and extended the fortifications of the harbour.
Ancient people, their traditions, and living conditions will be reanimated in this station which will provide information about archaeological sites of the Kyrenia region. The castle has several reconstructions within its permanent exhibits, such as the prehistoric village of Vrysi and the tombs of Akdeniz. Information on the trade between Phoenicia, Egypt, Cyprus and Greece and the products of Cyprus will be shown in the visualisation. Cypriots produced true bronze (copper and tin alloy) and tin, mined in Cornwall, was brought over the trade routes overseen by the Phoenicians. Steatite ornaments and idols were found in Çatalköy, east of Kyrenia. Short and sturdy natives populated several areas in the island. They lived in round earthen huts and many artefacts have been found buried under the floors of these huts. In this room, the visitor will be taken to a Neolithic scene. The castle was built on a Neolithic site and belongs to a period in history when life progressed from palaeolithic hunting and gathering to a safer, community-based and more sustainable life-style that could be ensured by cultivating crops, domesticating animals, making pottery and weaving cloth. The occupants of this settlement had no written language and can be regarded as prehistorical.
The Kyrenia shipwreck was discovered by diving instructor Andreas Cariolou in November 1965 during a storm. Having lost the exact position Cariolou carried out more than 200 dives until he rediscovered the wreck approximately a nautical mile north-east of Kyrenia harbour in 1967 with the help of James Husband. A team, under Michael Katsev of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, then studied the wreck from 1969 to 1974. The vessel was already approximately 80 years old at the time it sank. Today, the 47-foot-long hull (14m), made of Aleppo pine sheathed in lead, is preserved in a specially controlled environment in the museum, together with its amphorae. The visitor will experience diving underwater and see the shipwreck as it was in 1965 when it was first found. A diver will accompany the viewer to the recreated underwater site and describe the conditions as the ship was found. The wooden ship was very well preserved at the bottom of the sea for more than two thousand years. While sea water is very corrosive to metals, the thin deposit of sand and seashell debris covering the wreck helped to preserve the wood. This constant “rain” of debris goes on in the sea for millions of years. This process of sedimentation is how rocks such as limestone are formed.
Here, relics retrieved from the bottom of the sea will be revived. The Kyrenia Ship was a Greek merchant ship with a single square sail. The vessel’s route was Samos, Kos, Rhodes, the Asia Minor coastline, and then Kyrenia. The boat builders of those days knew that iron nails were useless in saline water and so copper nails were used for the timbers. The timber, which was Aleppo pine, was sheathed with lead. Its cargo weighed 20 tons and comprised 400 amphoras from Chios, Samos and Rhodes containing oil and wine and 29 mill-stones from Nisyros.
In this station, the visitor will be able to reconstruct the wreck like in a puzzle game. All the pieces will be aside and with the help of the Motion Leap® sensor, the hands of the visitor will appear and be able to interact with the 3D pieces and find the curse tablets hidden in the wreck. Curse tablets were left by pirates to conceal the evidence of their crimes. The vessel was loaded with almonds at the harbour of Kyrenia and set sail when it was attacked by pirates. Spear points in the hull and a curse tablet were found in the shipwreck.
The Chapel is one of the oldest parts of the castle. Here visitors will access VR visualisations of the Byzantine period. There are currently sixteen proposed stations with sixteen separate stories. Utilising the rich history of the Mediterranean and its many civilisations, the stories will take the visitors on a journey through time. Byzantine emperors fortified the castle. When Lambousa, a town west of Kyrenia, was destroyed during one of the frequent raids by Arab corsairs, Kyrenia grew in importance because its castle and garrison offered its inhabitants protection and security. The dome of the chapel is supported on arches, carried by three marble columns with Corinthian capitals. Fragments of the marble geometric floor are still visible. A small door in the west end leads down into the interior of a great round Venetian tower. Lady Piemadbena of Ferrera, widow of Antonia di Bergamo, who left five bezants in her will, wished that masses should be said for her soul here.
William Leake, an English antiquarian and topographer observes Kyrenia in 1818: “The harbour of Kyrenia had a long history which was connected with the local trade with nearby coast of Asia Minor that had been carried out since antiquity. Italian’s Cirene, Turk’s Gherne, it is the ancient Ceryneia and is now a small city with a Venetian fortification. The prevailing wind direction in the Mediterranean almost everywhere is northwest. The last voyage of the Kyrenia Ship in the fourth century BC consisted of four seamen.” This will be the sinking scene: rough sea, thunderstorms and heavy rain will make the vessel disappear near the horizon. During the Roman era ships were ordered to stop sailing between October and April. In summer, everything became active in the sea routes. Merchants, pirates and pilgrims sailed from port to port in the Mediterranean. Roman Cyprus exported wine, olive oil, medicinal plants, perfume, grain, copper, timber, pottery and dried fruit.