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Below is a list of the most famous churches of Cyprus.
Agios Antonios Byzantine Church
One of the most important Byzantine churches of Cyprus, Agios Antonios at Kellia probably dates back to the 9th century. It is at three aisled vaulted basilica that has undergone considerable reconstruction and repair. It preserves significant wall paintings surviving from the 9th, 11th and 13th centuries.
Agios Georgios Arperas Church
The church of Agios Georgios Arperas stands on the site of the medieval village of Arpera. It was built by the Dragoman Konstantinos Christofanis in 1745. A fresco in the church depicts him and his family offering the church to Agios Georgios. The church has many other frescoes signed by the painter Ioannikios.
Agios Lazaros Church
Situated in the centre of Larnaca, the magnificent early 10th century stone church of Agios Lazaros is one of the most important surviving Byzantine monuments of Cyprus. It was built by Byzantine Emperor Leo VI in exchange for the transfer of the Saint’s relic to Constantinople. The church lies over the tomb of Agios Lazaros, the resurrected friend of Jesus Christ who came to ancient Kition in 33 AD and became its first Bishop and Patron Saint. The tomb, along with other marble sarcophagi and box shaped tombs brought to light during excavations, can be seen inside the church crypt.
The three imposing domes of this Orthodox Basilica Church and the original bell tower were destroyed, probably in the first years of Ottoman rule when the church was turned into a mosque. The brilliant byzantine artistry of the icons and the unique baroque woodcarving of the gold covered iconostasis were completed in 1782 and have survived until today.
This 11th century Byzantine church, whose name means “built by angels”, was erected over the ruins of an Early Christian basilica in Kiti. The original apse survived together with one of the finest pieces of Byzantine art of the Justinian period, a rare 6th century mosaic of the Virgin and Child between two archangels. Only in Cyprus and in Mount Sinai have mosaics of this period survived the iconoclastic decrees ordering the destruction of most icons and objects of idolatry. Similar mosaics were those from the Church of Kanakaria, now on display in the Byzantine Museum in Nicosia.
Built by the Lusignan King Janus in 1421, it contains a wall painting of the king with his wife, Charlotte de Bourbon. Considered one of the most interesting structures surviving from the Frankish period, the Royal Chapel is situated in Pyrga village.
Terra Santa Catholic Church
Terra Santa is the church of the Latin community in Larnaca. Franciscan monk Callixte Martel founded the church and the convent in 1596, mainly to host Latin pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. In 1724 another bigger church and convent replaced the first. These were demolished again in 1842 to be replaced by the present church. The convent is also known as Santa Maria delle Grazie and its Latin style is one of the finest in Cyprus, with Renaissance and Baroque characteristics.
Agios Ioannis Cathedral
Agios Ioannis Cathedral in Nicosia within the old city walls is built on the site of the 14th century chapel of the Benedictine Abbey of Agios Ioannis the Evangelist of Bibi. Archbishop Nikiforos rebuilt the monastery chapel from its foundations in 1662. Dedicated to Agios Ioannis the Theologian, it is small, single aisled and barrel vaulted in the Franco-Byzantine style, with external buttresses and a west portico. In contrast to the deliberately modest exterior that was required by Ottoman rule, the gilded woodwork and bright interior illuminated by crystal chandeliers can take the unsuspecting visitor by surprise. Covered in gold leaf, the woodcarving is in the best tradition of 18th century Cypriot craftsmanship. The four large icons are the work of Cretan master John Kornaris and were painted between 1795 and 1797. The 18th century wall paintings depict scenes from the Bible and the discovery of the tomb of Agios Varnavas near Salamis.
Built in 1872 within the old city walls, this used to be the largest church in Nicosia. The marble mausoleum to the east of the church contains the relics of the bishops and priests executed by the Ottomans in 1821.
Holy Cross Catholic Church
Situated at Paphos Gate just within the old walled city of Nicosia, the Holy Cross Catholic Church date back to 1900 and caters for the capital’s Roman Catholic community – both local and foreign. It was built on the site of an older church dedicated to the Holy Cross that was constructed in 1642 and remained in use until the end of the 19th century before it was pulled down to make room for the current building. The first stone of the present church was blessed on April 8, 1900 and the church was inaugurated in 1902. The cost was partly covered by the Royal Family of Spain and partly by the Franciscan Friars.
The Spanish influence is still very much in evidence, especially in a number of wooden statues of the saints and the coat of arms of the Royal House of Spain in the decorated ceiling. The Friary beside the church was rebuilt in 1959. The church has an elegant and simple facade, but does not belong to a definite style. The decorated ceiling is in the shape of a barrel vault. At the tympanum over the entrance there is a stained glass rose window with the Cross of Jerusalem. Below the rose window, is a coat of arms of the Custody of the Holy Land. There are 10 chapels inside. The sanctuary was renovated in 1998. Changes included the addition of a stained glass window. At the two sides of the altar are wooden statues of the Virgin Mary and St Joseph. Inside the arches there are 14 Stations of the Cross recalling the Passion of the Lord.
Lazanias Saint George’s Church
Lazanias, is a historic village, unknown to a lot of people. Throughout the centuries, it has preserved a remarkable authenticity while at the same time the Greek character of its inhabitants has safeguarded morals, customs, religion and tradition. We should emphasize this because a farm of the Lusignan Crusaders has given rise to the foundation of this village. The village name “Lazanias” is an alteration of the word “Lusignan”.
The more the village remains unknown, the more the history of its church, dedicated to Saint George remains unknown. It is a wood carved church built in 1855. Ten years later, a priest monk gilded the iconostasis on his own expenses.
A vegetal decoration which looks like a painted work of art, drifts the eyes because of the strange way that it trails over the roof and decorates it. The carved gynaeconitis of the small church is also a work of art. The three earthenware jars that are planted on the floor of the church are the most extraordinary thing that surprises the visitor. It is said that they were useful for the better acoustics of the Mass.
Lazaniades, as the inhabitants of the village are named by Leontios Machairas in his Chronicle, are all Christian Orthodox with a great ancestors’ generation of priests. It is worth noting that for centuries now, the Monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary up in Machairas Mountains silently looks on the village and a lot of monks have lived there. Some of them have risen to high ranks of the religious hierarchy.
Panagia Chrysospiliotissa Church
The cave church of Our Lady of the Golden Cave on the outskirts of Nicosia on the road to Deftera is a picturesque example of a type of Levantine monastery or hermitage uncommon in Cyprus but typical of ancient Levantine Christianity. It consists of a natural sandstone cave enlarged to form an apse, nave, narthex and vestries, lovingly tended by women from the village. It was once completely decorated, but all the plaster has fallen away except in the sanctuary and even that has been defaced. The church houses a rain inducing icon of the Virgin, invoked in times of drought. A religious fair is held near the church on August 15th, name day of Panagia.
Agia Christina Church
Situated in the centre of Germasogeia village, this church was built in the 12th century and restored in 1996 during which 14th and 15th century wall paintings were uncovered under the plaster and restored. The church also houses an ecclesiastic museum.
Panagia tis Amasgou Church
Dedicated to Panagia, this small church was built at the end of the 11th century. A rectangular, vaulted church with arched recesses and two later transverse ribs that support the vault, it has some rare mural paintings of the 12th, 14th and 18th centuries, equivalent in beauty and significance to those of Asinou and Panagia tou Araka. Part of the monastic buildings has been renovated according to the original plan. The church is situated some 20 minutes away from Limassol.
Saint Catherine’s Catholic Church
Built in Limassol in 1879, the church is dedicated to St. Catherine. The architect Friar Francescoda Monghidoro from Bologna followed the prevailing European artistic trends for such buildings of the time. He used a Baroque style in the interior, opting for an eclectic design for the exterior facade that is dominated by the portico. The walls on the apse and the vault are decorated with Neo-Byzantine frescoes painted during renovation work in 1979.
Agia Paraskevi Byzantine Church
This interesting 9th century Byzantine church in Geroskipou has beautiful wall paintings and a five domed basilica in the form of a cross – only one of two such churches on the island.
Agia Solomoni Church
The so called Catacomb of Agia Solomoni was originally built in the Hellenistic period. It consists of an open court surrounded by five rock cut chambers, one of which has a spring. The west chamber has an apse set into the west wall and remnants of Christian wall paintings. It is clear that at some later point it was converted into a church. Agia Solomoni was one of the first to reject idolatry and embrace Christianity. According to tradition, Solomoni took refuge in the cave to escape persecution from the Romans. The Romans walled up the entrance, condemning her to a slow and cruel death. However, when the cave was opened 200 years later, the Saint walked out alive. There is a huge terebinth tree above the “catacomb”, its branches adorned by colourful rags and bits of clothing left by the faithful as offerings to the saint.
Panagia Chryseleousa Church
Situated in Emba village near Paphos, this is actually a combination of two churches. The eastern section was first built as a cruciform church with a dome in the 12th century, possibly on the ruins of an early Christian basilica. Later in the 13th century; an extension was made to the west with a domed building of the cross-in-square type. The church retains valuable wall paintings of the 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th centuries.
Agios Ioannis Lampadistis
Agios Ioannis Lampadistis is situated centrally in the region of the Troodos Mountains, just off the village of Kalopanagiotis. The monastery consists of three churches, Agios Herakleidios, Agios Ioannis Lampadistis and a Latin chapel, which all share a single enormous wooden roof. The well preserved wall paintings of the monastery retain fragmentary scenes dated to the 11th and 12th centuries, while other parts were painted in the 13th and14th centuries. These frescoes are of great importance as they include some rare representations, such as the depiction of the Holy Handker chief. The frescoes of the “Latin chapel” are the most complete set of the “Italo-Byzantine” style in Cyprus. Dated to approximately 1500 AD, they combine elements of Byzantine and Italian Renaissance art.
Metamorfosis tou Sotiros Church
The Metamorfosis tou Sotiros Church (Transfiguration of the Saviour), a UNESCO World Heritage site, is an early 16th century chapel on the hill overlooking the beautiful old village of Palaichori. Its interior is completely painted with one of the most complete series of murals of the post-Byzantine period in Cyprus.
Panagia Asinou Church
The famous Byzantine church of Asinou, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has some of the finest examples of Byzantine wall painting on the island. Asinou comes from the Greek Asine, which is an ancient city founded by immigrants from the Greek city Argolis in the 11th century BC. The church dates to the early 12th century and the murals inside date from the 12th century to the 17th century.
Panagia Chrysokourdaliotissa Church
A three-aisled church with a steep pitched roof and flat roof tiles, Panagia Chrysokourdaliotissa is situated in Kourdali village. It was built in the 16th century as a monastery church dedicated to Panagia and founded by deacon Ioannis Kourdalis. The wall paintings are of the same period, and some have western influences. The iconostasis is a beautiful example of wood sculpture of the 16th -17th centuries.
Panagia Podithou Church
Situated near the village of Galata, Panagia Podithou is an important church included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Erected in 1502, it once belonged to a monastery. Its paintings are of the Italo – Byzantine style, which appeared on the island towards the end of the 15th century.
Agios Ioannis Lampadistis Church
Originally a monastery, this complex consists of three churches – Agios Herakleidios, Ioannis Lampadistis and a Latin chapel, all of which share a single enormous timber roof. The monastery is situated centrally in the region of the Troodos Mountains, just off the village of Kalopanagiotis. The precise date of the monastery’s foundation is not known. The building complex that survives until today has undergone extensive reconstruction and restoration at different periods.
The core monastery church, dated to the 11th century, is an arched cross-in-square structure. The Agios Ioannis Lampadistis chapel was built in the 12th century to the north of the first church and rested on the tomb of the Saint. The chapel collapsed later and was for its most part rebuilt in the 18th century. A new chapel was constructed to the north of that of Agios Ioannis during the second half of the 15th century. It later became known as the “Latin chapel” as it was believed to have been built for the Latins. The timbered roof that completely covers the roofs of all three churches and gives the complex its unique appearance was added at a later date.
Agios Herakleidios church has excellent 13th and 16th century frescoes and the most ancient wooden templon of Cyprus covered with heraldic-looking beasts such as the Lusignan lion and the Byzantine eagle, and with the arms of various Latin knights.
Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis Church
The church of Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis “Saint Nicholas of the Roof” near the village of Kakopetria belonged to a monastery. It is completely painted with murals dating from the11th to the 17th centuries and is considered one of the most interesting Byzantine churches on the island. The church took its name from the steep, pitched timber roof that was built to protect it from the weather.
Archangelos Michail Church
The Church of Archangelos Michail in Pedoulas was built and decorated in 1474. It is a very small building with a usual sloping mountain roof. The templon is of the same period, intact and an excellent example of its kind.
The church is completely decorated on two levels, with 11 compositions from the Festival Cycle above and depictions of the saints below. The Crucifixion and the Ascension are depicted in the pediments. It is an example of local post – Byzantine painting 15 years before Venetian rule.
Panagia tou Araka Church
The 12th century church of Panagia tou Araka, a UNESCO World Heritage site, stands just outside the village of Lagoudera and boasts some of the finest frescoes of the late Comnenian style (1192) prevailing throughout Greece, the Balkans and Russia. Together with the churches of Asinou and Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis, it is considered to be one of the most important Byzantine churches on the island.
Panagia tou Moutoulla Church
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the tiny 13th century chapel Panagia tou Moutoulla is one of the earliest dated examples of its type, with a steep, pitched wooden roof and frescoes dating to 1280.
Stavros tou Agiasmati Church
The 15th century church of Stavros tou Agiasmati, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is situated about 3 kilometres outside the mountain village of Platanistasa. It retains the most complete cycles of mural paintings of the second half of the 15th century in Cyprus.
Timios Stavros Church
The 14th century church of Timiou Stavrou in Pelendri village is decorated with exquisite wall paintings of the Paleological period and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.