South of Pyrga, and accessible from the old Lemesos to Lefkosia road (the B1), the monastery of Stavrovouni (“Hill of the Cross”) – the oldest in Cyprus – tops an impressive 690m hill that rises steeply from the surrounding plain. According to legend the original monastery was established by St Helena in 327 AD to house some of the numerous relics she brought back from Jerusalem – a piece of the True Cross, the whole of that of the penitent thief, and pieces of rope and nails used in the Crucifixion. The monastery buildings were destroyed in 1426 after the battle of Choirokoitia, again in 1570 during the Ottoman conquest, and yet again by fire in 1888 – so the current buildings date from the late nineteenth century.

With strong historical links with the monasteries of Mount Athos in northeastern Greece, the monks follow a similar regimen, setting aside a third of their day for prayer, a third for physical labour, and a third for rest. For the same reason Stavrovouni is the only Cypriot monastery that follows the Mount Athos practice of banning females – even baby girls are not allowed within its precinct. Ironic, really, given that the monastery was allegedly established by a woman. Photography is also banned (the whole mountain sits in the middle of a military zone). So men who visit the monastery must leave their cameras and their female companions at the gift shop/bookshop entrance. Women are allowed into the church at the opposite side of the car park, though this may be scant recompense.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Cyprus features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Video: 18 things not to miss in Cyprus

Video: 18 things not to miss in Cyprus

From ancient ruins to beautiful beaches, Cyprus has a multitude of incredible things to see and do. Whether you're after a challenging hike, fancy some wildlife…

27 Oct 2014 • Rough Guides Editors videocam Video
The best beaches in Europe

The best beaches in Europe

Porthcurno, UK The closest Britain gets to beach paradise in Cornwall, with turquoise waters that glint in the sunshine and fine yellow sand. High cliffs on…

19 Apr 2013 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Privacy Preference Center

Necessary

Mandatory - can not be deselected. Necessary cookies help make a website usable by enabling basic functions like page navigation and access to secure areas of the website. The website cannot function properly without these cookies.

PHPSESSID,aelia_cs_selected_currency,cookie_notice_accepted,RS,bp-message,bp-message-type,id,UIDR,w3tc_logged_out,__cfduid
__cfduid

Statistics

Statistic cookies help website owners to understand how visitors interact with websites by collecting and reporting information anonymously.

__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid,__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xt
__utma,__utmb,__utmc,__utmz,_ga,_gid
__atssc,__atuvc,__atuvs,di,dt,ssc,ssh,sshs,uid,uit,xtc

Marketing

Marketing cookies are used to track visitors across websites. The intention is to display ads that are relevant and engaging for the individual user and thereby more valuable for publishers and third party advertisers.

__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID,__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll,c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs
__gads,PISID, BEAT, CheckConnection TempCookie703, GALX, GAPS, GoogleAccountsLocale_session, HSID, LSID, LSOSID, NID, PREF, RMME, S, SAPISID, SID, SSID
__utmv, _twitter_sess, auth_token, auth_token_session, external_referer, guest_id, k, lang, original_referer, remember_checked, secure_session, twid, twll
c_user, datr, fr, highContrast, locale, lu, reg_ext_ref, reg_fb_gate, reg_fb_ref, s, wd, xs