Путеводитель по Кипру: достопримечательности, маршруты, путешествия, экскурсии, фотографии, карты

Barskiy's Trail: Cyprus


This section of the site is devoted to Vasily Grigorovich-Barsky and his travels around Cyprus. Barsky is better known on the island than he is in Russia, and no wonder: having walked around the whole of the Middle East, he visited Cyprus on no fewer than five occasions. There is no other place that he visited so frequently or where he stayed for so long, and no other Russian traveller spent so long on the island, either before or after Barsky. Yet it cannot be said that he took a particular interest in Cyprus: it was rather a staging post on the way to various other places, such as the Holy Land, Egypt, or the island of Patmos. But for some reason it was with Cyprus that he developed a special relationship. Judge for yourselves.

Barsky was destined to become an author, having compiled a list of Orthodox monasteries and churches on Cyprus that was the most comprehensive of its time. This work owes its origins to the powerful earthquake of 10 April 1735 and the epidemic that followed in its wake, as a result of which life on the island came to a standstill for almost a year. Large towns were abandoned as their inhabitants sought refuge from the infection, but moving around the island’s little-populated mountain regions was entirely possible. During this time Barsky criss-crossed almost the entire island on foot, making notes and sketches. We do not know whether he did this at his own wish or at the request of one of his patrons. Whatever the case, Barsky left behind a splendid portrait of the island for those to come.

In terms of the degree of detail in their descriptions, his notes about Cyprus of 1734-1736 can be perhaps compared with the description of his second visit to Athos, to which he made a special journey from Constantinople, armed with all the necessary documents, which opened many doors for him.

Curiously, during his wanderings around the Middle East within the Patriarchy of Antioch, Barsky had dealings with Cypriots on a number of occasions. Patriarch Sylvester of Antioch, Barsky’s spiritual father, who tonsured him, was a Greek Cypriot.

The notes are written in Slavyanorussky, the literary language of the Kiev-Mohyla Academy. The 18th-century standard for the language of the Russian Empire, it was the precursor of modern-day literary Russian and Ukrainian.

There are translations of Barsky’s notes into English and Greek (unfortunately, not from the original, but from English).

However, we want to offer something new, a kind of database of Barsky’s travels that will also serve as a guide with commentary. It will feature excerpts from Barsky’s notes, laid out in chronological order. They will be accompanied by coordinates, maps, Barsky’s sketches (where they are available), and background information. This way we will be able to get an idea of his route and each stop along it, as well as reproduce any part of it.



© Yuliya Buzykina
English translation by Alastair Gill


1734, November, Monastery of St. Mina
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