Paleochristian and Byzantine Cyprus

A Limassol-Paphos Pilgrimage Route

Program Coordinators: Ourania Perdiki and Charalambos Petsas

Day 1

Visitors are picked up at the airport and shuttled to the hotel in Limassol

Day 2

A visit to the Saint George Alamanos Monastery–built in honor of a Greek Orthodox hermit whose monastic career began in Palestine–gets the program off the ground. Saint Tychonas is next, where the program coordinators will deliver a short presentation on ancient Amathus in the early christian era. Then on to the village of Monagri and the Panagia Amasgou Convent, founded around 1000 AD. Lunch awaits visitors in the picturesque village of Lophou, which will not fail to charm with its elegant stone-built houses and especially the Church of Panagia Chrysolophitissa, reportedly constructed using wine because of a severe water shortage. At Pelendri visitors will be taken to the Church of the Holy Cross, a twelfth century building on UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list, followed by the Church of the Virgin Mary the Catholic. The Church of Saint Mamas in Louvaras is next. On the way back to Limassol, a scheduled stop at the village of Apsiou and the Monastery of the Virgin of Amirou (the daughter of an Emir), reportedly the site of a non-liturgical holy water spring.

Day 3

First stop on the day’s itinerary, Akrotiri and the Monastery of Saint Nicholas of the Cats. Then on to Episcope, to the Church of Saint Ermogen, who was the Bishop of Samos. From there it’s a very short distance to the Kourion archaeological site, where remnants of Cyprus’ neolithic, hellenistic, and especially Roman and paleochristian periods are carefully preserved. Next stop, the picturesque village of Koilani for visits to the Church of Saint Mavri and Saint Timotheos. After a meal at one of the village restaurants, the tour resumes with a visit to the Timios Stavros (Holy Cross) Monastery, one of the island’s most historic. It is located in the village of Kouka and thought to have been built by Saint Helen. A short presentation by the program coordinators follows, titled “The Holy Cross in Cyprus”. After a relaxing walk around the village, it’s back to the hotel for rest and dinner.

Day 4

A start to the day with the Monastery of Panagia Troditissa, built in the 1100s during the era of Iconoclasm–Cyprus’ mid-Byzantine period. On to the Kykkos Monastery next, also founded in honor of the Virgin. One of its renowned treasures is an icon depicting Panagia Eleousa whose painting is credited to Saint Luke the Evangelist. The museum on the grounds of the monastery is noted for its extensive collection of exhibits of religious and historical significance. After visitors have had a chance to browse, they will be treated to an enlightening talk by the program coordinators about Cyprus’s stauropegic monasteries. Moving along, the village of Vasa Koilaniou is the next stop on the day’s itinerary, followed by Arsos for lunch. After the meal comes a visit to the Church of Saint Philip–a thirteenth century construction–and the nearby Church of Saint Mariamni–Philip’s sister. The day ends in Paphos with rest and dinner at the hotel.

Day 5

First item on the agenda, a trip through beautiful countryside to the Monastery of the Holy Cross in the village of Anogyra, just outside Limassol. Anorgyra also has something sweet in store for visitors at its Pastelli Museum (pastelli is a local traditional sweet). Next up, the village of Pano Archimandrita to see the Chapel of the 318 Church Fathers, nestled in a cave and housing the relics of the Fathers. The program coordinators will deliver a brief presentation on the religious practice of asceticism, followed by a visit to the Saint Hilarion Hermitage at the Paphos Diocese. From there, visitors will be taken to the Monastery of Priests (or Agia Moni), an institution to which priests have sought respite from the demands of priesthood since the tenth century. The program coordinators will enlighten visitors about the functions of this institution in a presentation titled “Monastery of Priests: From Antiquity to the Christian Era”. A nearby winery will host the group for lunch, after which visitors will get to see the Monastery of Panagia Chrysorrogiatissa. Then on to Letymbou, to the Church of Saints Kirikos and Ioulitis, dedicated to son and mother respectively, who came to the island from Ikonio in Asia Minor. A long day ends back at the hotel in Paphos with rest and dinner.

Day 6

A visit to the Church of Saint Paraskevi in Geroskipou (Holy Gardens) kicks things off on day 6, which contains frescoes dating from the ninth century. Then on to Paphos for a chance to see the magnificent mosaics at a series archaeological sites including he House of Dionysus, the House of Orpheus, the House of Four Seasons, the Mansions of Theseus and Aion, the Roman Agora, the Odeon and the Asklepieon. After lunch at Ktima comes a trip to the Saint Neophytos Monastery and the cave that was the saint’s hermitage. There the program coordinators will deliver a short presentation on “The Life and Times of Saint Neophytos”. Next stop, the Church of Panagia Chryseleousa in the village of Chloraka. This is an eleventh century construction which possesses an icon of extreme rarity, depicting a naked Jesus’ at the scene of His baptism in the River Jordan–a representational convention that has long been obsolete. Rest and dinner back at the hotel bring the day to a close.

Day 7

First item on the agenda, a visit to the thirteenth century Church of Panagia Chrysopolitissa. On the grounds of the church is still said to stand the pillar on which the Apostle Paul was flogged before the Roman Proconsul Paulus Sergius’ conversion to Christianity. The program coordinators will give a short presentation titled “The Royal Churches of Cyprus: Footsteps of the Apostles”, before resuming the tour with visits to the Catacomb of Saint Solomone and the Franco-Byzantine Church of Saint Aikaterini in the village of Kritou Terra. Nex stop, Polis Chrysoccous, for a look at the exhibits at the Arsinoe Byzantine Museum, followed by a break for lunch. After the meal, visitors will be taken to the Archaeological Museum in Polis, then to the centrally located Saint Andronicos Church and Park. A short coffee break and then it’s back to Paphos for rest and dinner at the hotel

Day 8

Visitors will be shuttled to the airport.

Note: Changes could be made to the program–before or during the visit–in order to accommodate any special needs and requests, provided the local holiday calendar allows it. 

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