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 who stumbled across the icon in a cave. To reach it, they had to machete their way into the cave through the thick plant growth, so the icon assumed the name 'Machairotissa' in reference to the Greek word for knife μαχαÎ¯ρι (Makhaira). The whole monastery founded on this site takes its name from this icon.
Following the death of Neophytos, Ignatios travelled with Prokopios (another hermit) to Constantinople in the year 1172 where they succeeded in obtaining financial assistance from the then Byzantine emperor Manuel I Komnenos. The monastery was also granted ownership of the entire mountain on which it is now situated and the status of stavropegion (meaning it remained independent of the area bishopric). The initial monastery was then enlarged by the monk Neilos in the early 13th century. He became the first abbot of the monastery (later he even became bishop of Tamassos). The monastery received further grants from two other Byzantine emperors: Emperor Isaac II Angelos granted cash and land in Nicosia and Emperor Alexios III Angelos donated 24 serfs.
The monastery has a rectangular layout and a red-tiled timber roof. The main entrance faces towards the east; a second faces due west. The supporting buildings and monks' cells are built around a centrally located church designed in Byzantine style. The main aisle of the church is lined with an attractive row of columns. It is covered by a dome and the large tiled roof. The interior of the church is decorated with religious icons, chandeliers, stone floors and wall frescoes. As expected, the icon of the Virgin Mary takes a prominent position. Currently the monastery holds 20-30 Orthodox 25 monks who live off of agricultural activities.References:
Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.
Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.
The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.
Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.
Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.
The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.