This is the largest monastery in Cyprus and is also known as The Monastery of Archangel Michael to whom it is dedicated. Alkis and I visited it for the second time last month.
It stands on the road leading from Nicosia to Troodos and it's only a short drive from the quaint village of Pedoulas. The monastery dates back in origin to the late Byzantine period, but it was later rebuilt, first in the 17th century and then in the 18th. It contains the tomb of its founder, Archbishop Nikiforos. Inside there are many restored frescoes, and the icons are a fine example of the Byzantine style.
The most precious of these, that of Blessed Mary, is covered with a plate of gilded silver. Magnificent golden candelabra and lamps hang from the ceiling, and there are many religious relics to be seen. Ancient manuscripts, wooden sculptures and important historical documents relating to the history of the monastery are also kept there.
Most monasteries in Cyprus are situated in superb mountain areas with breathtaking views. The Monastery of Kykkos founded in 1080 by Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komnenos is certainly the most famous of all the monasteries of the island and is known throughout the Greek Orthodox world. Located at about 1,200 metres above sea level, Kykkos took its name from the hillside on which it was built. It was granted autonomy by its founder who also donated one of the three surviving icons of Virgin Mary reputed to have been painted by Saint Luke himself. Emperor Komnenos also handed over estates and property to assist in the financial upkeep of the monastery.
It is recorded that in the 14th century 400 monks lived within the monastery. In its 900 years of existence, it has burnt down four times - the last time was in 1813. The icon of Virgin Mary has survived to this day and is now completely covered with silver gilt plate. It is believed to have miraculous rainmaking powers.