Monday, September 24, 2012

Stavrovouni Monastery, Cyprus

Perched on a rocky peak, Stavrovouni means Mountain of the Cross. This is 9km off the Nicosia-Limassol highway and stands high above the surrounding landscape on a rocky outcrop. It was founded in the 4th century by St Helena who built it to contain a fragment of the true cross. St Helena is said to have introduced cats to Cyprus to deal with the number of snakes she found when building the monastery. The brotherhood is extremely devout, keeping vows as strict as those at Mount Athos in Greece. 

The Monastery of Agia Varvara (Saint Barbara) at the foot of Stavrovouni Hill is easily accessible. The monks here have a reputation for icon painting.

From the peak of the Monastery, there is a magnificent view of Larnaca; the Monastery stands at approximately 600 meters. As of its history, it has been abandoned and burnt multiple times, first in 1426 by Arab invaders and in 1570 by Turks. The monks returned and reoccupied the Monastery in 1670. Currently, the Monastery looks like its last renovation and reconstruction of the 19th century A.D. What is necessary to note about Stavrovouni Monastery, is that only men are allowed to enter.

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