Religious sites in Cyprus

St. Anna Church

St. Anna"s church was built in the 14th century, and is thought to have been part of a monastery. It is single-aisled with two bays, and Gothic features resembling those of southern France. The walls are supported by external buttresses, between which can be seen tall windows, a typically Gothic feature. The apse is polygonal with buttresses. Originally the facade supported a belfry, but that has disappeared.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Famagusta, Cyprus

Hala Sultan Tekke

Hala Sultan Tekke or the Mosque of Umm Haram is composed of a mosque, mausoleum, minaret, cemetery, and living quarters for men and women. The term tekke (convent) applies to a building designed specifically for gatherings of a Sufi brotherhood, or tariqa, and may have referred to an earlier feature of the location. The present-day complex, open to all and not belonging to a single religious movement, lies in a serene set ...
Founded: 1600-1100 BC | Location: Larnaca, Cyprus

Saint Lazarus Church

The Church of Saint Lazarus is a late-9th century church in Larnaca. According to Orthodox tradition, sometime after the Resurrection of Christ, Lazarus was forced to flee Judea because of rumoured plots on his life and came to Cyprus. There he was appointed by Paul and Barnabas as the first Bishop of Kition (present-day Larnaca). He is said to have lived for thirty more years and on his death was buried there for the sec ...
Founded: c. 890 AD | Location: Larnaca, Cyprus

Selimiye Mosque

Selimiye Mosque, also known as Agia Sofia Cathedralm, is the largest and oldest surviving gothic church in Cyprus possibly constructed on the site of an earlier Byzantine church. The building belongs to the pure Gothic style of the beginning of the 12th century. Due to the building’s large scale, lack of money and various historical events it took 150 years for the cathedral to be built and still, it was never compl ...
Founded: c. 1209 | Location: Nicosia, Cyprus

Armenian Church

The Armenians came to Cyprus from the southern coast of Turkey before the French Lusignans arrived in 1192. Like other non-Latin or non-Orthodox Christians, they settled in the Syrian quarter of the city, so named because that was where the Carmelites from Syria were based. The Armenian church was probably built in the 14th century by Armenian refugees. It is quite small, with just one aisle and a cylindrical apse. The r ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Famagusta, Cyprus

Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque

The Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque originally known as Saint Nicholas"s Cathedral and later as the Ayasofya (Saint Sophia) Mosque of Magusa, is the largest medieval building in Famagusta, Northern Cyprus. The cathedral was constructed from 1298 to 1312 and was consecrated in 1328. 'After an unfortunate episode when the current bishop embezzled the restoration fund', Bishop Guy of Ibelin bequeathed 20,000 bezants ...
Founded: 1298-1312 | Location: Famagusta, Cyprus

St. Francis Church

St Francis church was originally part of a Franciscan monastery, and was alongside the Royal Palace. Today it can be found close to the Venetian Palace. It consists of a three-sided apse with a small chapel off the south side. Buttressing supported the external walls. It was built in the early years of the 14th century with funding supplied by Henry II, King of Cyprus who reigned from 1285 to 1324. Henry"s reign was ...
Founded: c. 1310 | Location: Famagusta, 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

Church of Panagia tou Moutoulla

The church of Panagia is inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List, which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. According to the dedicatory inscription on the north wall of the Holy Bema, the church was built and decorated with frescoes in 1280, with the donation of Ioannis of Moutoullas and his wife Irene. Both of them are depicted holding a model of the church. It is therefore possible, ...
Founded: 1280 | Location: Moutoullas, 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

St. George of the Latins Church Ruins

St George of the Latins is the remains of one of the earliest churches in Famagusta. The exact date of construction is unknown, but evidence of a crenellated parapet where defenders could protect the church, hints that it was built at a time when the Lusignans had not yet completed the city walls. Its design was supposedly inspired by St. Chapelle church in Paris, which was built in 1241. Generally, it is thought that the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Famagusta, Cyprus

Church of Panagia Podithou

The church of Panagia Podithou is situated in a central area of the Troodos mountain range, in the upper Solea valley. It is built in a narrow and fertile valley of the river Klarios/Karkotis, a few hundred meters to the north of the village of Galata. In 1985 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. Panagia Podithou used to be the katho ...
Founded: 1502 | Location: Galata, 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

Church of Archangelos Michail

The church of Archangel Michael is situated in a central area of the Troodos mountain range, in the valley of Marathasa, in the village of Pedoulas. In 1985 it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List which includes nine other painted Byzantine churches of the Troodos range. According to the dedicatory inscription above the north entrance, the church was built and decorated with frescoes in 1474, with the donation ...
Founded: 1474 | Location: Pedoulas, 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

Sinan Pasha Mosque

Sinan Pasha Mosque was built around 1360 (originally as Christian Church of Saints Peter and Paul), supposedly with a third of the profits of a single trading venture of one of Famagusta"s wealthiest businessmen, Simon Nostrano. it is one of the largest of the Gothic cathedrals in Famagusta, and is similar in design to St George of the Greeks, which was built around the same time. Because of its massive height, the ...
Founded: 1360 | Location: Famagusta, Cyprus

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Beersel Castle

The moated castle at Beersel is one of the few exceptionally well-preserved examples of medieval fortifications in Belgium. It remains pretty much as it must have appeared in the 15th century. Remarkably, it was never converted into a fortified mansion. A visitor is able to experience at first-hand how it must have felt to live in a heavily fortified castle in the Middle Ages.

The castle was built in around 1420 as a means of defence on the outer reaches of Brussels. The tall, dense walls and towers were intended to hold any besiegers at bay. The moat and the marshy ground along its eastern, southern and western edges made any attack a formidable proposition. For that reason, any attackers would have chosen its weaker northern defences where the castle adjoins higher lying ground. But the castle was only taken and destroyed on one occasion in 1489, by the inhabitants of Brussels who were in rebellion against Maximilian of Austria.

After being stormed and plundered by the rebels it was partially rebuilt. The pointed roofs and stepped gables are features which have survived this period. The reconstruction explains why two periods can be identified in the fabric of the edifice, particularly on the outside.

The red Brabant sandstone surrounds of the embrasures, now more or less all bricked up, are characteristic of the 15th century. The other embrasures, edged with white sandstone, date from the end of the 15th century. They were intended for setting up the artillery fire. The merlons too are in white sandstone. The year 1617 can be clearly seen in the foundation support on the first tower. This refers to restorations carried out at the time by the Arenberg family.

Nowadays, the castle is dominated by three massive towers. The means of defence follow the classic pattern: a wide, deep moat surrounding the castle, a drawbridge, merlons on the towers, embrasures in the walls and in the towers, at more or less regular intervals, and machiolations. Circular, projecting towers ensured that attacks from the side could be thwarted. If the enemy were to penetrate the outer wall, each tower could be defended from embrasures facing onto the inner courtyard.

The second and third towers are flanked by watchtowers from which shots could be fired directly below. Between the second and third tower are two openings in the walkway on the wall. It is not clear what these were used for. Were these holes used for the disposing of rubbish, or escape routes. The windows on the exterior are narrow and low. All light entering comes from the interior. The few larger windows on the exterior date from a later period. It is most probable that the third tower - the highest - was used as a watchtower.