The most ancient and majestic monastery of Cyprus, a stone stronghold on a high rock at an altitude of 750 meters above sea level. Legend has it that in the 4th century Saint Helena founded it and left here a piece of the Holy Cross on which Christ was allegedly crucified (the cross brought to Cyprus hovered over the top of the mountain where now Stavrovouni is located). Part of this cross is in a silver setting in the main shrine of the monastery.
In the Middle Ages the monastery was destroyed by the Egyptians, then it was abandoned, survived a fire, and the restoration began only at the end of the 19th century. Now Stavrovouni is famous for its school of icon painting.
The rules of the monastery are strict: women cannot enter, they can only view the Church of all the Saints of Cyprus at the base. Men in modest clothes can climb a steep staircase to the monastery itself, but photography is officially prohibited here.
One of the most famous villages in Cyprus, known since the 12th century. The settlement became famous thanks to the traditional houses of white stone, surrounded by picturesque mountains. In addition, Lefkara has been famous for its silver and lace fabrics for the past 500 years. The tourists can see these fabrics being woven by their own eyes. According to legend, Leonardo da Vinci himself visited Lefkara and bought a cover for the Milan Cathedral there.
The village is divided into two parts: Pano Lefkara (Upper Lefkara) at an altitude of about 600 meters above sea level, and Kato Lefkara (Lower Lefkara), located 100 meters below.
The village is decorated with about 20 churches. The most famous is in Pano Lefkara and it is the Church of the True Cross. An iconostasis from the 18th century and a unique silver cross are the treasures this church possesses.
One of the most famous monasteries of all orthodox Christianity, Kykkos was founded in 1080 at an altitude of about 1300 meters above sea level. First of all, the fame of this monastery is due to the glory of the Christian shrine—an icon of the Mother of God, the authorship of which is attributed to the Evangelist Luke himself.
According to legend, the governor of Cyprus rudely treated the hermit Isaiah, for which he was partially paralyzed. The governor asked for a pardon from the hermit in exchange for a promise to bring an icon from Byzantium, written by Luke. The Byzantine emperor did not want to give up the icon, but after he and his daughter were struck by the same paralysis, he ordered the founding of the monastery and the icon to be placed in it.
Today thousands of pilgrims still flock to the icon, but the image has been closed by a silver cover for several centuries, and the exact reasons for this are not known.
Panagia tou Moutoulla, church
The small Moutoulla mountain church of the 13th century is located on a hill above the village of the same name. Outwardly, it is similar to a village house, but is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to unique paintings that almost completely cover it from the inside. This is the only ancient series of murals in Cyprus, which can be dated with accuracy: in 1280 the family of a certain wealthy man, Ioannis Mutullas, ordered these paintings to be made by the talented artist Minas.
However, visitors are struck not by the scientific value, but by the brightness and beauty of the frescoes themselves: the images of the Virgin, the birth of Christ, the Meeting, the resurrection of Lazarus, and others. It is a mixture of the Byzantine style of the 12th century with elements of Western European style and oriental motifs. Later, in the 16th century, a scene from the Last Judgment was added to the north wall.
Panagia tou Araka, church
Troodos Botanical Garden
The Cyprus Department of Forests, with the assistance of sponsors, implemented a project to turn old asbestos quarries into a conservation site on the island. That is how this little garden appeared on the mountainside.
Today a Troodos garden visit is a unique opportunity to admire both rare plant species and beautiful mountain views at an altitude of 1400 meters above sea level. Visitors admire the interesting layout of the garden and the mountain air, filled with a powerful smell of trees and herbs. Entrance is free.
This graceful bridge across the small river Dhiarizos is popular with photographers and often falls on the covers of guidebooks on mountain Cyprus. It was built by the Venetians at the beginning of the 16th century for camel caravans, which brought copper from the mountain mines on Troodos to the port of Paphos.
Today, along with two other Venetian bridges, Elia and Roudia, Kelefos Bridge has become part of a 17 km long and difficult hiking trail, created by the Cyprus Department of Forests.
A beautiful 13-meter waterfall, one of the largest in Cyprus, is located 1,300 meters from the village of Pano Platres. The rocky surroundings of the waterfall are covered with dense coniferous forests with many rare plants.
We recommend coming here in comfortable hiking shoes. The trail along the river is the hardest and longest one.