Men only and a view of Southern Cyprus

Stavrovouni Monastery Travel Blog

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I returned to the highway and headed for the mountains just west of Larnaca. It took me only 45 minutes traverse Cape Greko to well past Larnaca to turn onto the northbound road in between these mountains. That was faster than I expected given that at my fastest, I was doing only 80 km/hr. ( I thought!?)


The mountains, now to the east (my right) are an interesting mix of brown and almost greenish white. It’s a strange contrast. I can see in the distance the monastery that I seek. It’s on the tallest mountain in the region at (688 meters (2460 ft). It looks much higher from this distance.


I find the marker and turn down a narrow road.

The first thing that I see is a sign for no photography but, this one is different. The camera on it has a telephoto lens on it. Then, I enter a 30 km zone and a military base with armed guys watching me go by.


From there it was all up hill, really it was. The road became even narrower and truly had many hairpin turns. Had I been in a sporty car, this might have been fun……in a left had drive car, not so much!


The view of the surroundings became more and more amazing as I drove higher and higher. I could see so much now, how would it be at the top???


I finally reach a brick gate and an Icon on one side….I am there. I had reached the Stavrovouni Monastery. In earlier times this mountain had been known as Mount Olympus.

It was founded in 327 by St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great. According to the 15th century Cypriot chronicler Leontios Makhairas , Helena had discovered the three crosses on which Jesus and the two thieves had been crucified on her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. She had them excavated and wanted to bring them to Constantinople. But she is said to have left one of these crosses in Cyprus during an involuntary visit caused by shipwreck , and to have presented it to a monastery .


It is the earliest documented monastery on the island and has been an important religious center since the 4th century.


From this height, the views are panoramic and as far as the eye can see. I can see all of the surrounding mountains. Some of them have strange tree growth patterns….take a look. Then there are the limestone mountains and their white glow.

I can see all the way to the Mediterranean Sea and most of the southern coast of Cyprus. It’s a perfect view. On the other side the little cities and villages between the many of the mountains on the way to Nicosia can be seen.


Just outside the monastery gates is a little chapel filled with fantastic frescoes telling of great religious stories St. Helena and her founding of the monastery. It is a gem not to be missed. The sun was bursting through the door and reflecting against the gold of the altar. Photographing it was very difficult……if I could only shut the door!!! Anyway…..I was thrilled to be able to see what I could in here and that was a lot!


Ok, so now I go up to the BIG gate to the monastery. The gate is closed and there is a sign.

Women are not permitted inside. Men must have pants and upper body must be covered. No cameras are allowed inside the gates. So, I put my backpack in the car and returned to be welcomed in. There were many women waiting for their husbands, boyfriends, fathers, and sons outside the gate. They gave me a stare and a frown.


Inside the gate the stone stairs wound their way up the mountain. I had to stop ever few minutes to take in the view. With no camera, I really wanted to try to cement it in my brain. It was only a 10 minute hike….steep and strenuous but, not difficult. The pay off was tremendous. The monastery was massive and imposing. There was a large courtyard with viewing terrace. The view was an unobstructed western view…..the sun setting. It was fantastic.


I walked into the main building and up the stairs (a sign pointed that way). I could see out the doors and into the next building was the church.

Most of the rooms off of the main hall, that I was walking, was filled with monks.


I walked inside the church was instantly in awe. I make my way to the main altar and view the many icons but, am first asked to remove my hands from my pockets. I had forgotten that it is a sign of disrespect. I will show the proper respect when visiting any religious place.


The richness of the color of the frescos, the many stories being shared, the icons (the originals), this is a place of great significance. There was a light fixture with icons placed between the lights and hanging from the fixture were many colorful beaded eggs. There was the special piece. The cross that houses pieces of the “True Cross”.  It is a creative use of design as a vessel to hold something so sacred. 


I took my time piecing together the many frescos stories and enjoying the design details. I can see many spectacular interior designs coming from this one room as inspiration. I hope I get the opportunity, someday.


It’s time to go, the sun in going down, fast. I’ve two more stops to make.

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Stavrovouni Monastery
photo by: delsol67