One of the first chosen lands the Apostles chose to spread the message of Christianity, Cyprus has deep religious roots. Being incorporated in the Classical Roman Empire and the Eastern Byzantine Empire, the island had many Byzantine monuments worth visiting. Ten of them are of such great importance and historic significance they were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List added in 1985. Churches dating from the 11th to 17th century can be found in the Troodos mountain range.More Information
One of the first chosen lands the Apostles chose to spread the message of Christianity, Cyprus has deep religious roots. Being incorporated in the Classical Roman Empire and the Eastern Byzantine Empire, the island had many Byzantine monuments worth visiting. Ten of them are of such great importance and historic significance they were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List added in 1985. Churches dating from the 11th to 17th century can be found in the Troodos mountain range.
You can visit them by following routes which have been geographically divided into three regions:
The Marathasa route: Kalopanagiotis – Moutoullas – Pedoulas (route length of 148 km). This route includes the Marathasa monuments: Monastery of Agios Ioannis toy Lambadisti in Kalopanagiotis, Church of Panagia in Moutoula and the church of Archangelos Michael in Pedoulas.
The Pitsilia route: Lagoudera – Platanistasa – Pelendri – Palaichori (route length of 97 km). This route includes the Pitsilia monuments: Monastery of Panagia tou Araka in Lagoudera, Church of Stavrou tou Agiasmati in Platanistasa, Monastery of Timios Stavros and Church of Archangelos Michael in Pelendri, Church of Agios Mamas in Louvara and the Church of Metamorfosis in Palaichori.
The Solea route: Nikitari – Galata – Kakopetria (route length of 138 km). This route includes the Solea Monuments: Church of Panagia tis Asinou, Church of Panagia tis Forviotissa in Nikitari, the Churches of Panagia Podithou, Archangelou, Panagia and Agios Sozomenos Churches in Galata and the Church of Agios Nikolaos tis Stefis in Kakopetria.
Built in the 12th century, the church of Panagia tou Arakos, is considered to be one of the most important Byzantine churches of the period. Find it amongst pine trees and mountains between the villages of Lagoudera and Saranti in the Pitsilia area. Upon entering the church one is amazed by the unique frescoes decorating the walls of the church, each telling an important biblical story. Funded by Leon Afthentis in 1192, they were painted in late Comnenain style. The frescoes are the most complete collection of mid-Byzantine time one can find in Cyprus.
The church, which used to be a monastery, was houses two important icons on of Christ and of the Panagia of Arakiotissa painted by Theodoro Apsevdi in the late 12th century.
Sitting on the north foothill, on the east bank of a stream, is the church of Forviotissa or better known as Panagia of Asinou. Within unearth magnificent Byzantine art which were created from the 12th to the 19th century and survived through time for visitors to admire. Frescoes decorating the walls date from the 12th to the 17th century.
Find the church three kilometres south of the village of Nikitari.
Clinging on the slopes of the Marathasa valley, above the river Setrachos, is the monastery of Agios (Saint) Ioannis Lampadistis. Overlooking the village of Kalopanagiotis, the monastery consists of builds dating from the 11th to the 18th century each added to the complex over time.
Move below the church of Agios Ioannis Lambadistis and unearth the saint’s miraculous remains in a silver plated reliquary, dating to the 12th century. Visit the 11th century church of Saint Herakleidios, and admire the ancient wood templon and unique frescoes. Additionally, discover the Italian influence in Cyprus by visiting the Latin Chapel housing the most complete series of Italo-Byzantine art.
Travel just 2km southwest of the village of Kakopetria and discover a church built on the west bank of the river Klarios/Karkotis. The church of Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis was the only building which survived from an 11th century Byzantine monastery.
The church stands apart for its roof with a steep pitch where the name ‘Tis Stegis’ originates. Step inside and admire the frescoes embellishing the walls transforming the church into a museum of Byzantine art. Notable paintings are the composition of the Forty Martys and the figure of Agios Nikolaos.
Nestled north of the village of Galata, in the Solea valley is the church of Panagia Podithou. According to the inscription it was built in 1502 and used to be a monastery church.
Within the church is the gilded wood-carve iconostasi surrounded by italobyzantine style of murals depicting Apostle Peter and Paul on the north wall and biblical scenes on the rest. A notable mural is of the donor of the church as an old man with his wife donating a miniature model of the church to the Virgin Mary.
Traveling east from the village of Palaichori, a visitor will encounter a church overlooking the village on the hill. The church of the Transfiguration of the Saviour dates back to the 16th century and is the only church out of the ten that was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000.
Surround yourself with Byzantine art of great significance, upon entering the church. Created by an unknown artist with both a western and Palaiologan period influence.
Towering above the village of Moutoullas, in the Marathasa valley, is the church of Panagia of Moutoulla.
Uncover the inscription on the north wall of the Holy Bema, standing as proof of its construction in 1280. Surrounded by frescoes of immense value and significance surviving from 1280, the visitor engrosses in art with an influence from Byzantine, crusader and Italian origin.
Within the village of Pedoulas, the crown jewel for the community sits proudly. The church of Archangel Michael, was built and decorated in 1474, with donation of priest Vasilios Chamados.
Discover one of the best preserved wooden templon of its kind, dating back to 1474. Exquisite Byzantine art envelop the visitor. The dedicatory inscription located above the north entrance is also depicted, showing a priest accompanied by his wife and two daughters offering Archangel Michael a model of the church.
Surrounded by dense greenery, five kilometres northeast of the village of Patanistasa, in the Pitsilia area, lies the church of Timios Stavros tou Agiasmati.
Constructed towards the end of the 15th century it served as a monastery church. The surviving inscription on the north exterior wall the church was erected with the donation of the priest Petros Peratis and completed in 1494. He and his wife are depicted on a mural on the south exterior wall making the offering of a model church to Jesus.
With a roof extending higher than the temple, making it unique in the island, the whole interior of the church along with the four posts holding the roof are embellished with frescoes. Dividing the church in two tiers the upper depicts multi-person scenes from the new testament while the lower holds images of individual figures.
Journey south of the biggest village in the Limassol district, Pelendri, and discover the church of Timios Stavros (Holy Cross). Attested in the sources since the late 12th century, it is believed it originally served as a cemetery church.
The original church was destroyed and the surviving apse was incorporated in a new church built between the 13th and 14th century. Enriched with byzantine art from the 14th century along with the murals on the apse with inscriptions indicating their creation in 1172.