The Machairas Monastery, Fikardou Village and the Blessed Virgin Gold caves

If this is not your first visit to Cyprus, and you’ve already seen the well known sights but would like to explore other interesting places, then I recommend you take this trip.  The destination is the stauropegic monastery, Machairas.

Unlike the well-known monastery at Kikkos, whose doors are always open for pilgrims and tourists, friars of Machairas monastery tend to shy away from visitors, which is why small tours or groups can only go at certain times with a prior booking.

Blessed Virgin Gold caves

Panagia XrisospiliotissaThe monastery is located near to the main tourist areas.  If you want a quicker route than the mountain road, then it’s best to take the Larnaca – Nicosia motorway and turn left at the Tseri sign, drive passed Tseri Village and turn right towards Pano Lakatamia.  Turn left, then when you see the Panagia Xrisospiliotissa sign, turn right.

After travelling along a dirt road you will find yourself on an area in front of a steep cliff with a large, towering, cross.  There is a church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a cave 50 metres up the mountain.

The name of the church is literally translated as ‘a church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Golden Cave’.  It’s true – when the mid-day sun reflects off the limestone walls, it’s as if they are covered in gold.  The church was formed in the 12th and 13th centuries, and is considered to be one of the oldest on the island.

There is a legend which links the appearance of the cave with the name of the Blessed Virgin.  It says that after the death of Jesus Christ, she dug the cave in the rock with her bare hands, so she could pray to her son alone.  Nowadays many young Cypriot women come to the cave to place a candle and ask the Virgin Mary for a happy marriage. You will have to climb 104 steps to get to the church. Please bear in mind it’s not always open, and you should get there before 12 noon.

Fikardou Village

Fikardou VillageClimbing higher, you will continue your journey along the Troodos Mountains.  Care should be taken as even an experienced driver can easily lose their way here.

After passing the villages of Anayia and Klirou Gouri, you will arrive at the small village of Figardoy.  The village was all but deserted, with only 4 people living here, but recently it received the status of an open air museum and is now under the UNESCO umbrella.  Many houses have been repaired and restored and now everyone can visit and experience traditional village life.

You can stop at a family village tavern for lunch and try the simple, but incredibly tasty, local dishes and the pumpkin Cypriot wine, whilst sitting on the verandah, taking in the clean mountain air and admiring the view of the village spread out before you.  This is a very tranquil location and many artists have rented houses here recently in search of inspiration.

It’s a stone’s throw from the village of Fikardou to the Machairas Monastery, which is set 870m above sea level.  The name is derived from the Greek word ‘makheri’, which means ‘knife,’ and the magnificent walls of the place can be seen from far away.

The Machairas Monastery

Икона Пресвятой девы МарииThe main shrine of the monastery is the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary which was painted by the apostle, Luke the Evangelist, who also painted the icon in the Kikkos monastery. Legend says that the icon, like many other Christian shrines, was hidden in Troodos during aniconism times.

In 1145 God showed Saints Neophytos and Ignatius where the icon was hidden, but they had to clear the way to it through shrubbery with a long knife. The icon was then known as Macheterissa, whilst a monastery was constructed in the place it was discovered. Now the shrine is kept in the main church of the monastery for all to see.

Interestingly, in 1892 the monastery was badly damaged by fire and Archimandrite Khariton, who was head of the monastery at that time, went to Russia to raise funds to restore it.  This means that the construction, which was completed in 1900, was partially done with contributions from the Russian people.

You are not allowed to take photographs or film in the monastery, but you will certainly leave with many memorable impressions.

The monastery is open from 8.30 – 17.30 for single visitors.  Large groups may only visit on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9.00 – 12.00, with prior booking.

For more information please call the monastery on +357 22 359 334.

Plan your return trip beforehand.  Depending on where you are based it may be more convenient to take a different route back.

For those not wishing to travel alone, tours are available on our website.

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