In the western part of Troodos mountains, in Nicosia district, it is located the widely venerated Monastery of Kykkos, one of the most renowned monasteries in Cyprus, both for its spiritual but also its cultural radiance.
The name of the monastery, Kykkos, and subsequently of the mountain peak where it is located, seems to belong to Byzantine era, however, there is no exact explanation as to its etymology. Based on different sources, the name Kykkos originated from a plant, and more precisely from a bush, which thrived in the area, known as “kokkos”. Referring to the local tradition, though, it is said that the name Kykkos relates to a bird's song, that was announcing the foundation of a monastery dedicated to Virgin Mary. The full name of the monastery is “The Holy, Royal and Stauropegial Monastery of the Holy Virgin of Kykkos”; “royal” because the monastery was founded with an imperial order, from the Byzantine emperor Alexios Komninos, and “Stauropegial” since a cross (“stauros” in Greek) was placed at the monastery’s cornerstone.
Despite being built during the 11th century, no traces remain today from the initial temple. The original building was constructed with wood and after fires that occurred in the area, the monastery was destroyed. From then on, the monastery and the surrounding buildings were rebuild, while extensions and alterations occurred leading to its current form. The complex consists of various constructions. Noteworthy are the mosaics welcoming the visitors and decorating the entrance, the corridors and the internal courtyard. Arriving in the center of the complex, it is found the three-aisled basilica, surrounded among others by the monks’ cells, the library and the museum. The museum is situated in the northwest section and houses important religious artifacts, including antiquities, holy relics, byzantine icons and books.
Worthwhile is a walk towards the peak of the mountain, adjacent to the monastery. The path first leads to a square where it is situated the statue of Archbishop Makarios III, the first president of the Republic of Cyprus, and then, following the embellished path, the road arrives at his tomb. At the peak of the mountain lies an impressive, recently constructed, chapel with amazing views looking over the Troodos mountains. Historically, in periods of droughts or other disasters, the icon of the Virgin Mary would be brought to this point and placed on a wooden throne, thus the name of the peak “Throni” (meaning “throne”).
A remarkable monument, both of religious and historical interest, the Monastery of Kykkos remains as one the principal monasteries of the island. Born from the auspices of the emperor, this spiritual and cultural center live in splendor since its early years, receiving numbers of visitors throughout the year.
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