Monasteries in Cyprus

Kykkos Monastery

The Holy, Royal and Stavropegic Monastery of Kykkos is one of the wealthiest and best-known monasteries in Cyprus.It was founded around the end of the 11th century by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1081 - 1118). The monastery lies at an altitude of 1318 meters on the north west face of Troödos Mountains. There are no remains of the original monastery as it was burned down many times.
Founded: c. 1090 | Location: Paphos Forest, Cyprus

Trooditissa Monastery

The exact date of the foundation of Trooditissa Monastery, situated on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains, is not known. But according to local tradition, the monastery was established immediately after the iconoclastic era (around 990 AD). As with other monasteries, it was preceded by a hermit who resorted there during the years of the iconoclasm. Nothing remains of the monastery of the Middle Byzantine period ...
Founded: c. 990 AD | Location: Troodos, Cyprus

Bellapais Abbey Ruins

Bellapais Abbey, or 'The Abbey of Peace', is the ruin of a monastery built by Canons Regular in the 13th century. The site of the Abbey may have served the Bishops of Kyrenia as a residence, and as a place of refuge from Arab raids in the 7th and 8th centuries. The first occupants known to have settled on or near the site were the Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre, who had fled Jerusalem after its fall in 118 ...
Founded: 1198-1205 | Location: Bellapais, Cyprus

Panagia Church

The church of Panagia Phorbiotissa, better known as Panagia of Asinou, is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. Panagia Forbiotissa used to be the katholicon (monastery church) of the Monastery of Forbion, as its name implies. According to the dedicatory inscription above its south entrance, which is dated to 1105/1106, the church was built ...
Founded: 1099 | Location: Nikitari, Cyprus

Machairas Monastery

Machairas lies at an altitude of about 900 m and was founded at the end of the 12th century close to the current village of Lazanias. Legend has it that an unknown hermit smuggled one of the 70 icons said to have been painted by Luke the Apostle secretly from Asia Minor to Cyprus. This icon of the Virgin Mary remained in its hiding place until the arrival of two other hermits from Palestine in 1145: Neophytos and Ignatius ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Troodos, Cyprus

Notre Dame de Tyre

Notre Dame de Tyre is a 14th-century monastery in Nicosia. It is believed that the original church, known as the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of Tyre, was founded in the 13th century as a principal convent following the fall of Jerusalem. In 1308, the Lusignan king, Henry II of Jerusalem, repaired the church after it was destroyed by an earthquake. As many of the nuns were Armenian in origin, it came under the Armenian C ...
Founded: c. 1308 | Location: Nicosia, Cyprus

Monastery of Agios Ioannis Lampadistis

The monastery of Agios Ioannis Lampadistis (St. John Lampadistis) is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. The exact founding date of the monastery is unknown. The katholicon (monastery church), which is dedicated to Saint Herakleidios, is dated to the 11th century. Among the wall-paintings of the narthex there is an inscription, dated to th ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Kalopanayiotis, Cyprus

Panagia tou Sinti Monastery

Panagia tou Sinti is an abandoned monastery situated on the banks of the Xeros River. The 16th century central nave is in good condition and considered one of the most important buildings of the Venetian period. In 1977 it received the Europa Nostra Award for the restoration and conservation work carried out on it.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Paphos, Cyprus

Stavrovouni Monastery

According to religious tradition, the Stavrovouni Monastery was founded by St. Helena, the mother of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine I, the Great. According to the 15th century Cypriot chronicler Leontios Makhairas, Helena was on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land when she discovered the three crosses on which Jesus and the two thieves had been crucified. She had them excavated and wanted to bring them to Constantinople, but ...
Founded: 327-329 AD | Location: Pyrga, Cyprus

Church of Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis

The church of Ayios Nikolaos tis Stegis is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis is the only surviving katholicon (monastery church) of an 11th century Byzantine monastery in Cyprus. The church itself is dated to the 11th century, whilst the earliest written sources that mention the monastery are dated to the end of ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Agios Nicolaos, Cyprus

Panagia Apsinthiotissa Monastery

Panagia Apsinthiotissa or Absinthiotissa is a Greek Orthodox monastery probably established in the 11h or 12th century as a Byzantine imperial foundation and continued to enjoy a degree of prominence in the Lusignan and Venetian periods. Leontios, the abbot in about 1222, was one of the delegates sent to report the plight of the Orthodox Church under Latin jurisdiction to the Patriarch Germanos II in the Empire of Nicaea. ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Pentadaktylos, Cyprus

Church of Panagia tou Arakos

The church of Panagia tou Arakos is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. Panagia tou Arakos used to be the katholicon (monastery church) of a monastery bearing the same name, which seems to have been built during the second half of the 12th century, when monastic life was flourishing in Cyprus. When Vassili Barsky, a Russian monk, visited t ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lagoudera, Cyprus

Apostolos Andreas Monastery

Apostolos Andreas Monastery is dedicated to Saint Andrew. The monastery is an important site to the Cypriot Orthodox Church. It was once known as "the Lourdes of Cyprus", served not by an organized community of monks but by a changing group of volunteer priests and laymen. Both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities consider the monastery a holy place. The monastery was supposedly founded here, as during ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Rizokarpaso, Cyprus

Chrysoroyiatissa Monastery

Chrysoroyiatissa Monastery was founded in the 12th century, but the existing building dates back to the 1770. The monastery is dedicated to Virgin Mary or the Cypriot "Our Lady of the Golden Pomegranate". Inside the monastery there is a variety of religious icons and treasures on display. One statue that attracts the most attention is of Virgin Mary, which is made of pure silver. On 15th August, a celebration is ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Pano Panagia, Cyprus

Church of Timios Stavros tou Agiasmati

The church of Timios Stavros tou Agiasmati is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. This church used to be the katholicon (monastery church) of a monastery bearing the same name, built towards the end of the 15th century. When Vassili Barsky, a Russian monk, visited the island in 1735, the monastery was almost abandoned and inhabited by only ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Platanistasa, Cyprus

Antiphonitis Church

Antiphonitis Church used to be the centre of an influential monastery. It was once the premier Byzantine monument in the Kyrenia hills. Because of its unusual design, it is thought to have been built by local artists. The church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was built in the 7th century. However the narthex to the west and the gallery to the south were added by the Lusignans in the 14th or 15th century. The dome is plac ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kalograia, Cyprus

Gialia Monastery Ruins

The Gialia Monastery is a ruined medieval Georgian Orthodox monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Located in a forest some five kilometers from the coast near the small town of Polis Chrysochous, the ruins were identified, in 1981, by the Georgian scholar Wachtang Djobadze of California State University on the basis of the medieval Georgian accounts. It was not, however, until 2006 that a systematic archaeological resea ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Gialia, Cyprus

Kanakaria Church

Situated on the edge of Boltasli village, the church of Panaya Kanakaria dates back to the early Byzantine period. There is, however, virtually no trace of the original church. What we can see today is from the late 5th century onwards. The church is cruciform in shape, having been originally built as a colonnaded basilica. It was largely destroyed during the Arab raids of the 700s, and rebuilt. Further restoration was re ...
Founded: 5th century AD | Location: Boltasli, Cyprus

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.