Machairas Monastery

Troodos, Cyprus

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 μαχαίρι (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.



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E4, Troodos, Cyprus
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Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in Cyprus


4.8/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Philip “Phil A” Andrews (4 months ago)
It was raining heavily during our visit and although the church and shop were open there didn’t seem to be a lot to see. The church was very nice but a little more light would have been welcome as I think it relies on mostly natural daylight that was in short supply in the rain. Note it is closed on Wednesdays.
may shanaa (4 months ago)
It's definitely worth a visit. Very interesting history. It was founded by 2 Hermits that came from Palestine in the 12th century.
Tanja Grivičić (4 months ago)
Only the church can be visited in the monastery. Photography is prohibited. It has a souvenir shop with interesting products. There is also a clean toilet for visitors.They work from 10 am. It's worth a short visit.
Ralph Naderson (5 months ago)
Definitely a must-see while on Cyprus. Beautiful well-kept monastery cuddled in the mountains. Especially the long-winding serpentine drive to this place is truly unique and gives great reflections of the beautiful nature. I was really impressed.
Andrew Mikhniak (2 years ago)
There is not much too see in the monastery because the vast majority of it is not available to the visitors. The views are good. The drive to the monastery is much more exciting than the monastery itself.
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