Churches and Monasteries
When the apostles Paul and Barnabas arrived in 45/46 AD in Cyprus, the island then became the first Christian community outside Israel. Today small chapels, churches and monasteries testify to nearly 2000 years of Christian cultural life all around Cyprus.
- Ayios Heraklidhios:
The monastery of Ayios Heraklidhios, near the archaelogical site of Tamassos(about 20 km west of Nicosia), was founded about 400 AD on the grave of the holy Heraklidhios. Nowadays a convent of nuns lives in the old monastery.
- Ayios Yeoryios Alamanos:
About 15km northeast of Limassol there is the monastery of Ayios
- Yeoryios Alamanos. Makarios III founded this convent. Today the nuns mainly work as nurses.
- Ayios Minas:
About halfway between Larnaka and Limassol, near the famous village of Lefkara, there is the monastery of Ayios Minas. This convent has existed since 1670. Nowadays the nuns run the monastery painting and selling religious icons
- Ayios Neophytos:
About 10 km north of Paphos, near to the main road to Polis there is the monastery of Ayios Neophytos.
In Paphos district, about 40 km east from the main road to Polis, there is the idyllic monastery of Chrysoroyiatissa. This monastery is famous for its excellent wine.
At the top of a mountain about 1318 m high, in the north west of Troodos, stands the richest and most splendid monastery in Cyprus, Kykkos Monastery. Kykkos was founded in the 11th century but unfortunately it has been burned down several times and there are no reminders of the original building, in contrast to the other Cypriot monasteries. Near this famous monastery is the monument to Archbishop Makarios III, the first president of the Republic of Cyprus.
About 40km southwest of Nicosia on top of the Machairas mountain (1423 m), stands the secluded monastery of Machairas. Machairas is a popular place for excursions, not only because of the quiet atmosphere of the monastery, but also due to the museum of Giorgios Afxentiou. Giorgios was a Cypriot freedom fighter who fought against the British colonial power . Giorgios Afxentiou died after defending himself in a nearby hideout.
Near the Nicosia-Limassol highway at junction number 11, Kornos, there is the monastery of Stavrovouni . Standing at the peak of a conical mountain (688 m), this is probably the most traditional and strictest monastery in Cyprus. Even today women are not permitted to enter. As legend has it, a piece of wood of from the holy cross of Christ has been saved in the monastery and is held in a silver cross. This cross has been stolen many times in the past.
About 5 - 10 km from Platres, is the small monastery of Trooditissa. This monastery is a popular place of pilgrimage. Prayers to the holy Icon of Virgin Mary give hope to childless couples who wish for a child.
The Byzantine heritage of Cyprus is obvious in many chapels and churches. Often these beautiful and mystical places are difficult to reach by public transport. To avoid any damage to the internal decoration of these churches, they are often closed. The best thing to do is to ask in the nearest coffee shop or one of the locals for the key!