Located on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains, the Trooditissa Monastery is one of the very few monasteries in Cyprus where the date of formation is unknown. It is believed though based on local tradition that it was founded just after the iconoclastic era (8th-9th century A.D.). The monasteries in general in Cyprus were built after a hermit or hermits had been there originally, often in caves, living a life of spiritual struggle. The monasteries were then subsequently built around these holy men. The same applies in the instance of Troditissa Monastery. The oldest reference we have of the monastery is of a 14th century deed. There are no remnants of the Middle Byzantine period or of the period of Frankish rule.
TIMIOS PRODROMOS MONASTERY
The Monastery of Timios Prodromos (St. John the Baptist) lies in the Troodos forest area of Mesa Potamos. The Monastery “is located among beautiful mountains covered in dense pine forests, has springs of sweet water near a small river or big deluge”. This was written during the 18th century by the Russian wanderer Barsky during his travels of the whole island, noting down and describing all the Churches and Monasteries he encountered.
Machairas Monastery is one of the most famous Monasteries in Cyprus. Situated on the slopes Kionia at an altitude of 280 feet above sea level, it lies in the valley of the Machairas Mountains. Therein lies the miraculous icon of Panagia (Virgin Mary) of Machairas which is attributed to Agios Loukas the Evangelist (the Apostle Luke). According to legend, the icon was brought to Cyprus secretly by an unknown hermit during the iconoclasm years between the 8th and 9th century A.D. Living in a cave, the Holy Icon remained with him until his death around 1145, when the hermits Ignatios and Neophytos, blessed with divine grace discovered the cave which was obscured by bushes. To reach the cave where the icon was a knife was given to them by a divine hand with which they used to cut the bushes. Hence to the icon of Panagia the name “Machairiotissa” (machairi in Greek means knife) was added. The Monastery was subsequently built on the same spot bearing the same name.
The Monastery of Kykkos is dedicated to Panagia (the Virgin Mary) and contains one of the three icons attributed to Agios Loukas the Apostle and Evangelist. The monastery is the richest and most lavishly adorned Monasteries in Cyprus and tourists visit it by the bus load. It is located in the Marathasa region on a mountain peak at an altitude of 4,320 feet. The icon itself is covered in silver gilt and lies in a shrine made of mother-of-pearl and tortoise shell that stands in front of the iconostasis (the line of icons in a long decorated wall of wood separating the sanctuary from the rest of the church). The Monastery was founded between 11th-12th century A.D. during the reign of the Emperor Alexios Komnenos I (1081-1118 A.D.).
AGIOS IOANNIS LAMPADISTIS MONASTERY
Although originally a Monastery, this is actually a complex of three churches; Agios (Saint) Herakleidios, Agios Ioannis Lampadistis and a Latin chapel all of which share an enormous single roof made of timber. Throughout its history the complex has undergone restoration and reconstruction work. The Monastery lies on the outskirts of Kalopanagiotis village in the Troodos Mountains. This is another example of the very few churches which have an unknown founding date.
PANAGIA TRIKOUKIOTISSA MONASTERY
This Monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Mary (‘Panagia”) lies 2 km from the Prodromos region. The Church is made from stone and has a tile covered wooden roof. Set in a splendid picturesque environment the church has interesting architecture with five old cells saved until today. Another wing has been built containing fifteen cells. Panagia Trikoukiotissa Monastery comes under the protection and assistance of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus.
PANAGIA CHRYSOKOURDALIOTISSA MONASTERY
This monastery is located at Kourdali. It was established in the 16th century and has been declared as an ancient monument. We do not know when its dissolution took place, but its church, which is the largest and most picturesque one of the ancient churches of the Solea region, has been preserved. In 2006, the Holy Synod decided to re-establish this Monastery. Since the middle of 2005, the first nun has already settled at Kourdali.
PANAGIA CHRYSOROGIATISSA MONASTERY
The Monastery of Chrysorrogiatissa lies on the slopes of Troodos which drop in to the Paphos region. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and specifically translated means “Our Lady of the Golden Pomegranate”. Founded in 1152, the Monastery sits in a wonderful natural environment. According to tradition, it was in the aforementioned year when a monk named Ignatios found a miraculous icon off the shore of Paphos that had been thrown in to the sea in Asia Minor during the iconoclast dispute and was carried by the sea to Cyprus. The church, which was built on the foundations of the existing ancient one, contains many important icons and ecclesiastical treasures. Look at the impressive frescoes located above all three entrances. In the 18th century the monastery was restored. On August 15th, the day of the annual celebration of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, a special religious ceremony is held. Some of the best wine in Cyprus is produced at the Monastery’s old winery.
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE CHURCHES
Cyprus is blessed with a large number of Byzantine monuments with ten of them are included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites; such is their historical and artistic importance. All ten sites are in the Troodos area and date between the 11th and 17th century. The route has been geographically divided in to three regions in order to tour them properly and in a convenient way:
♦ The Marathasa route: Kalopanagiotis – Moutoullas – Pedoulas (route length of 148 km).
♦ The Pitsilia route: Lagoudera – Platanistasa – Pelendri – Palaichori (route length of 97 km).
♦ The Solea route: Nikitari – Galata – Kakopetria (route length of 138 km).
Holy Cross (Timios Stavros) Monastery
The ornament and true pride & joy of Omodos is the Monastery of the Holy and Life-giving Cross, built at the heart of the community. It rises majestically and with its imposing presence it becomes a significant part of Cyprus's cultural heritage. The Monastery of the Holy Cross is one of the oldest and most historic monasteries of the island. The Monastery's architecture is characteristic. It is a huge, two-levels complex in the shape of (the Greek letter) Π that encircles the church in the north, west, and south with its tall cells and the vaulted arches. One can enter the yard through a vaulted entrance, the so-called "kamaroporta" (arched door), which is found in the north side. Tradition reports that the arched door, which resembles that of a fortress, with its heavy, double crossbars, would not open when Turks who intended to harm the monastery would arrive. The west entrance that today exists in the part of the plaza was opened recently. The complex is consisted of many stone-made cells, cellars, and hostels/hospices. The lace-like balusters under the arches of the roofed verandas, in the interior side of the constructions, have a very picturesque quality. In the fenced yard a marble-made fountain refreshes the visitors. Upon a plate, dating back to 1763, the words "come to me you that are thirsty, like Siloam the fountain I will also quench your thirst" are inscribed. The large temple with three aisles of the Monastery, which is of the Basilica type, is built -according to local tradition -precisely above the cave where the holy Cross was found.