Kykkos Monastery - the most famous monastery in Cyprus
Panayia tou Kykkou, or better known as simply “ Kykkos ”, is the most famous monastery in Cyprus. It is located about 15km west of the Pedoulas and the Marathasa valley, it stands on a mountain peak, at an altitude of 1318m. The wealthiest and most lavish monastery in Cyprus is dedicated to the “Panayia”, the Virgin Mary.
The original monastery was established at the end of the 11th century by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenos. However, none of the original buildings have actually survived the numerous fires that have swept through the region. Therefore, nothing found in the monastery today, actually pre-dates the last fire in 1831. Nevertheless, the famous icon of the Virgin Mary has miraculously survived the multiple fires and is still found at the monastery today, in its own silver, tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl protective case. It is believed that the emperor Alexios I Komnenos rewarded the Cypriot Hermit Isaiah for miraculously healing his daughter, by sending the icon to Cyprus along with funds to pay for the construction of a monastery, where the sacred relic would be kept.
It should also be noted that, in 1926, Archbishop Makarios III, the first president of Cyprus, began his ecclesiastical profession as a monk at the monastery. Who kept returning to the monastery throughout his life, as he remained very affectionate of the place and even wished to be buried there after his death in 1977. His tomb lies 3km west of the monastery.
Today, the monastery produces Zivania, as well as other alcoholic drinks. It also holds religious fairs every year on September 8th, the Birth of the Virgin, and August 15th, the Dormition of the Virgin. There is also a Monastery Museum on the grounds, with comprehensive collections and complex exhibits, organised into antiquities (pre-Christian artefacts) and documents, vessels, vestments and ornaments from the early Christian and Byzantine periods as well as icons, frescoes and woodcarving, manuscripts, documents and books. The monastery church is opulent, even by Greek Orthodox standards, and is lined with icons. There is also a brass or bronze arm, meted out by the Virgin to a Turk who lit a cigarette from one of the sanctuary lamps, and the blade of a swordfish, presented by a sailor who was saved by the Queen of Heaven from drowning.