Boğaç, C. and Güley, K. (2007). ‘Museum of Time: A study of Gazimağusa’, Proceedings of Social Science History Association, 32nd Annual SSHA Conference, 15th -18th, November Chicago, Illinois, USA. pp. 93-103.
Built environments tend to adapt changing social and economic conditions and physical environment keep preserving meanings all the time. People continue to create built environments; social life changes, it evolves. As time goes by, ‘history comes out. While people perceive buildings around them, they transform 3-dimensional, spatial and time conceptions to the ‘meaning’. In other words, they experience ‘values’ and ‘meanings’ of things in their ‘ museum’ of time. In this process, people’s cultural backgrounds, which took place in their perception process, play an important role. The unique historical character and identity of any surrounding determine individual’s possible organization of reality beside one’s personality. But what does physical environment mean to someone if it is not a fully part of their own cultural history?Throughout its history, city of Gazimağusa (Famagusta), North Cyprus, had hosted different cultures. From Egyptians to Lusignans, from Venetians to Ottomans and British, the social life and population characteristics of the city has changed through the centuries. Today, there are so many historical structures and ruins in the walled-city of Gazimağusa that does not contain any resemblance to people’s past who live in city today.Firstly, this paper discusses the ecological approach to visual perception, which indicates direct experience of the organism and environment conformity process on the basis of ‘theory of affordance’. However, the theory of affordance alone does not answer the question of how people become sensitive to existence meanings in the environment. At this point, theory of ‘existentialism’ helps to develop ecological approach in order to understand how meaning is inherent in a public form of life. The relationship between perception and meaning needs to involve the idea of dialectic between past and present. Secondly, the paper discusses these key themes as a medium to explore issues of history and identity.In line with these discussions, this study aims to determine (i) Which historical identities have left traces in City of Gazimağusa (ii) What are the living identities today?; (iii) What does these historical identities mean for today’s society?Key words: Meaning, Existentialism, Culture, Identity, History, Architecture.