The Kykkos Monastery is considered to be one of the wealthiest and best known monasteries in Cyprus, making it a must visit destination for people visiting Cyprus. It is located on the north-west side of the Troodos Mountains.
The Kykkos Monastery, also known as The Holy Monastery of the Virgin of Kykkos, was established towards the end of the 11th century by Alexios I Komnenos, a Byzantine emperor who ruled from 1081 to 1118.
According to legend, there was a monk named Esaias living in a cave in the Troodos Mountains. One day, doux Manuel Boutoumites, the governor of the island, who was spending the summer at a nearby village because of the heat, decided to go into the forest to hunt.
While he was lost in the forest, the governor ran into Esaias, and asked him to show him the way back to the village. Esaias refused to help the governor, who got angry and mistreated him. Upon returning to the village, the governor fell ill and asked God to cure him so he could apologize to Esaias for how he treated him.
God appeared to Esaias and told him to advise the governor to bring the icon of the Virgin, which was painted by Apostle Luke to Cyprus. The governor and Esaias then travelled to Constantinople, where they asked Emperor Alexios III Angelos to send the icon to Cyprus.
At the time, the emperor’s daughter had fallen ill with the ailment the governor had, and Esaias and the governor were able to persuade the emperor to send the icon to Cyprus to save his daughter’s life. After he agreed to send the icon to Cyprus, the emperor’s daughter became well.
After his daughter’s recovery, the emperor was still reluctant to part with the icon and had a duplicate made by a skilled artist with the intention of sending the duplicate to Cyprus instead of the original. However, the Virgin Mary appeared in his dream and told him she wanted the icon to be sent to Cyprus and the duplicate to be kept by the emperor.
The next day, the icon was sent to Cyprus on a royal boat and has been there ever since.
The original monastery was burned down several times by fires that swept the area, so there no remains from the original building. Due to the fires, nothing in the current monastery predates the last fire in 1831, and a lot of the items in there are from later periods. Interestingly the famous icon of the Virgin Mary is the only artifact that survived the fires.
Unlike some of the other monasteries in Cyprus that have been renovated over time, the Kykkos Monastery is pristine and very well maintained because of the drawing power of the icon of the Virgin Mary and because many people donated money to the monastery during the Ottoman times, instead of having to pay the heavy Ottoman taxes.
Archbishop Makarios III, who was the first president of Cyprus, started his career as a monk in the monastery in 1926, and was so fond of the place that he visited many times while he was in office, and requested to be buried there after his death. His wish was granted after his death in 1977, and his tomb is one of the most visited destinations for people who visit the monastery.
The Kykkos Monastery has a museum filled with artifacts, documents, and ornaments from the early Christian period as well as the Byzantine period. The museum also boasts frescoes, wood carvings, and ancient manuscripts.
While some of the artifacts exhibited in the museum might not interest everyone that visits, it is difficult not to be impressed by the comprehensiveness of the artifacts and the complexity of all the exhibits. Since the entire list of artifacts and exhibits at the museum is too long to list, the monastery provides a detailed list of all the contents of the museum on its website.
The monastery church is a sight to behold, filled with various icons, including the icon of the Virgin Mary, which survived the fires that destroyed the old monastery. The icon of the virgin is the most famous of the icons in the church, and is usually kissed by a lot of the people that visit the monastery.
Close to the icon of the Virgin, is a bronze arm which is said to be the result of a punishment. According to historians, the arm belonged to a Turk who decided to light a cigarette from one of the sanctuary lamps. The Turk was said to have been cursed and lost his arm as a result of the curse.
Another popular icon in the monastery is the blade of a swordfish, which represents the gratefulness of sailors that prayed to be saved from the dangers of the sea when they travel.
The Kykkos Monastery is free to all that want to visit, but there is a fee to enter the museum. It is open all year round, and is usually packed with people, especially on the weekends.