Panagia Church

Nikitari, Cyprus

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 with the donation of Magistros Nikephoros Ischyrios, who subsequently became a monk with the name Nikolaos. The monastery was founded in 1099 and it functioned until the end of the 18th century, when it was abandoned.

The church consists of two parts: the vaulted single-aisled nave and the narthex, which is a later addition belonging to the second half of the 12th century. The narthex with its two semi-circular apses belongs to a type directly influenced by Constantinople. Already from the 12th century a steep-pitched timber roof, covered with flat tiles, sheltered the church. Today no traces of the rest of the monastic buildings survive.

The interior of Panagia Forbiotissa is entirely covered with wall-paintings, which vary in date. The earliest group is dated to 1105/1106 and it expresses the (then) latest style of the Comnenian period. These frescoes reflect the art of Constantinople, which is thought to be the artist's birthplace, and they are one of the most important groups of Byzantine art of this period. The strong influence of the Empire's capital can be explained by the fact that the prevailing geopolitical conditions of the time led Alexios Comnenos I (1081-1118) to render Cyprus his most important military base of the North-eastern Mediterranean.

Many of the original wall-paintings, dated to 1105/1106, are preserved in the apse of the Holy Bema and the west wall of the church, which must have often suffered great damages especially from earthquakes. During the 14th century, for instance, the conch of the apse collapsed and was soon after rebuilt and redecorated. At the same time the external buttresses were added and a little later, the flying buttress at the eastern end of the north wall was built.

The narthex was decorated with mural paintings soon after its erection during the second half of the 12th century, and in 1332/1333 it was redecorated following strong Frankish influences. In its iconographic programme, we distinguish the large number of donors.

In the same church there are also some later frescoes, dating to the 17th century.



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F932, Nikitari, Cyprus
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Founded: 1099
Category: Religious sites in Cyprus


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Panayiotis S (9 months ago)
Panagia tis Asinou or Panagia Forviotissa is a Christian church of the early 12th century, catholic of a dissolved monastery, near Nikitari, Cyprus. The temple is one of the nine frescoed churches of Troodos that have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1985. I have visited this holy place many times and it's always a great experience.
Stavrie OnTour (9 months ago)
The church is fully decorated with wall paintings of the 12th-13th century. They are well preserved. At some points, you see the previous layer of the wall, which means that the latter wall painting is mimiting it. Photos are not allowed inside of the church for safety reasons. There is no entrance fee. It was open even though google said it was closed. The cute old man there said that they usually keep it open until 3-4 pm. There are two taverns near church, so you can enjoy your lunch if you travel from far.
Christakis Psyllides (9 months ago)
Amazing place to go visit. It's a small UNESCO World Heritage Site Church from the early 12h Century. Worth a visit and take in lunch at a beautiful taverna along the road about 500m. Recommended. Try and avoid religious holidays or weekends if possible as the roads and taverna gets very busy....
CK Cheong (10 months ago)
One of the ten UNESCO World Heritage churches in Troodos, Cyprus. Church is not big and the frescos are all over the walls and on the ceiling. Frescos are colorful, vibrant, beautiful and well preserved. Really interesting Christian stories depicted. Definitely one of the must see in Cyprus
Stephen Psallidas (14 months ago)
A beautifully-decorated ancient church, covered on every interior surface with intricate icons. "Small but perfectly-formed", as they say. Entry is theoretically free like with all South Cyprus museums/attractions, a small donation in the church box is expected. When we arrived at 09:30 in February there was no one there, but we asked the restaurant opposite, who called up the priest, and 5 minutes later an old guy turned up with the key! There are public toilets right next to the church, although they weren't very clean.
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