Cyprus is a very versatile country in terms of religions. Throughout the centuries it has been home to Hellenistic and Roman gods, Catholicism, Islam and Orthodox Christianity. Nowadays, the majority of the population belongs to the Cyprus Orthodox Church which is also a state religion. Historically, many Christian saints lived, preached and discovered their faith on the island. Orthodox Cyprus, reflecting different historical eras and religions, is a famous pilgrimage place where people from all over the world come to see the shrines and miraculous icons. Many, having once visited the island, fall in love with it forever and move to Cyprus, buying or renting Cyprus property.
Visiting the shrines of Cyprus
As already mentioned, the island is home to a huge number of important Orthodox shrines. In almost every locality you can see an Orthodox Church, and in many cases, apart from spiritual value, they also have a historical one.
When visiting the Mediterranean island, some prefer Cyprus festivals and carnivals, which are organised here in abundance, while others prefer peace and quiet and head to religious spots. Depending on where you stay in Cyprus, you can make your own tour and visit the nearest shrines. Most of the famous churches and monasteries in Cyprus have good transport connections and can be easily reached by public transport or a rental car.
The second option for visiting the most important Orthodox shrines on the island is excursions, which are very popular. Most travel agencies offer a wide range of various routes to the most famous places of interest, and the cost of such excursions will depend on the duration of the tour. The most popular are day trips (8 hours long), which include visits to two or three major shrines. Visiting the churches and monasteries of Cyprus with guided tours will be particularly suitable for families with children.
Below we will see which Orthodox shrines and places in Cyprus are worth visiting on their own or as part of an excursion group.
Orthodox Cyprus: the most famous temples
Excursions to famous shrines take quite a bit of time, but this is completely justified. The churches and monasteries of the island are powerful spiritual centers where everyone can find peace, balance and support. Moreover, the temples of Cyprus are also unique in terms of historical and architectural value. The most famous Orthodox churches that you should definitely include in your itinerary are the following:
● Kykkos Monastery. Located in the Troodos mountains, it was founded at the end of the eleventh century. Kykkos is one of the most visited and richest monasteries on the island.
● Makheras Monastery is set in the forests of Troodos, 50 kilometres from Nicosia.
● Trooditissa Monastery. Another monastery located in the mountains, famous for its two Orthodox shrines - the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary and the Belt of the Holiest Virgin Mary.
● St. Neophytos Monastery. Located near Pafos, the monastery was built near the cave of Neophytos the Hermit. The relics of the saint are still kept in the church.
● Stavrovouni Monastery. It is one of the oldest temples on the island. The monastery was built in the first half of the fourth century.
● St. Lazarus Church, one of the most famous Orthodox Churches on the island, is located in Larnaca. The temple was built in the ninth century on the site where the relics of the saint were found.
These are just a few of the numerous churches and monasteries of the island that are worth seeing. Regardless of the season, it is worth planning a visit to one or more temples.
Orthodox Cyprus: famous icons
Virgin Mary is especially revered and loved on the island. There are three unique icons of the Virgin Mary on the island, painted by Apostle Luke. Their uniqueness lies in the fact that all three of them were painted while the Virgin was alive.
● Kykkos miraculous icon. As the name implies, the icon is located in the Kykkos monastery. According to legend, Apostle Luke painted this icon for the Egyptians, but during the era of iconoclasm to save the icon from destruction, it was decided to send it to Byzantium. The ship carrying the icon was robbed by the Arab pirates who in their turn were later defeated by the Greeks, who found the icon and sent it to Constantinople. It was only at the end of the 11th century that this image of the Virgin Mary came to Cyprus. According to legend, the owner of the icon had a vision, which commanded to send the shrine to the Troodos mountains. This is how the miraculous icon ended up in the place where it can be seen today. The Kykkos Virgin Mary is also called the Merciful. The icon is famous for its miraculous qualities - it relieves infertility, headaches and various problems in the family.
● The Icon of the Virgin Mary Trooditissa. The icon is located in the monastery bearing the same name in the village of Platres in Troodos. This icon, just like the previous one, arrived in Cyprus during the time of iconoclasm. It was brought by a monk, whose name has not survived to this day. For some time the monk lived in a monastery in Akrotiri, and then, taking the icon with him, he moved to the mountains and settled in one of the caves. After his death, the cave with the icon was discovered by a shepherd, who was drawn there by a mysterious light shining from the image of the Virgin Mary over the mountain. A monastery was later founded on this site.
● The miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary Makheriotissa. The image is located in one of the most famous temples of the island - Makheras monastery. The name of the icon is translated as "the knife". According to legend, the icon was brought to the island to save it from possible destruction. The icon was hidden in the mountains and for a long while, no one knew its location until one day two monks Ignatius and Neophytos found the cave where it was hidden. The path to the shrine was blocked by dense thickets, so the monks had to use knives to get to the icon, hence the name. Soon the site of the cave became home to a monastery, where today you can see this miraculous icon.
Thus, Cyprus is an important place of faith and Christianity. Not only can you live here enjoying the comfort of modern real estate, but also feeling the powerful support of medieval Orthodox monasteries, churches and shrines.