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

4 – 18 July 1727. Stavrovouni Monastery Печать
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Stavrovouni Monastery

After Kykkos, Barsky headed in the direction of Larnaca, in order to continue his journey (he needed to travel to Egypt). While on his way he visited a third one of the most important shrines on the island: Stavrovouni Monastery [1], founded, according to legend, by Empress Helena of Constantinople, who left here a relic of the True Cross. His travelling companion was not interested in visiting Stavrovouni, so Barsky went alone and spent three days at the monastery. He met with the abbot, who showed the traveller both the monastery itself and its surroundings, and also recounted the story of the founding of Stavrovouni. It appears that during this “guided tour” Barsky sketched the monastery from two angles: as seen from seawards and as seen from the direction of the mountains, from the centre of the island.

Рисунки БарскогоРисунки Барского

According to the account of the monastery’s founding which Barsky gives, the monastery’s main relic was a cross higher than a sazhen [2] in height (the same size as the True Cross), into which Empress Helena had placed a piece of the sacred relic. Having satisfied not only his religious fervour, but also his scientific curiosity, Barsky headed to Limassol, where he reunited with his travelling companion and found a French ship, on which he set sail for Alexandria in Egypt.

Thus concluded Barsky’s second, though not final, trip to Cyprus, during which he visited three towns: Limassol, Larnaca and the capital Lefkosia, and three famous monasteries: Kykkos, St. Mamas and Stavrovouni.

barsky Having spent several days there, until the end of the month of June, and having taken exit documents from the pasha, we set off on foot, on the third of July, again to Larnaca and Alikes, to the sea port, not far from which, four hours’ walk away, is found on a high mountain the monastery of the Holy Cross.

Вид на Ставровуни

We were planning to work a little there, for the sake of worship, but my companion changed his mind. On one of the days I set off for the place on my own and there performed the respective worship and stayed for three days: I also visited other places belonging to the monastery, together with its abbot.

Of this monastery we know the following: when Empress Helena received the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord in Jerusalem and returned to Constantinople, she landed in Cyprus. While still far out to sea she had noticed a high mountain, so she ascended it for a panorama of the surrounding area, and the place was to her liking. She built a church of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and founded a small monastery, because the place itself atop the mountain was small. Having made a large cross from wood, of around a sazhen in height [see Note 1], she placed a considerable part of the Cross of Christ inside it and left it there for the blessing of the monastery, which to this day is preserved by the power of the Most Honourable and Life-Giving Cross and its prayers.


There are few buildings in this monastery, insofar as only the church in it is spacious in its width and length, low, but large; on top it has two small domes, inside it is supported by six pillars; at some point it had three altars, now the service is held only in the central altar space; there are few cells in the monastery, only four or five, and they adjoin the church closely. The place is very beautiful and cheerful, quiet, secluded and cool, because there, by cause of the altitude, a wind always blows, even if there is none below. Only two of the monks stay in the monastery permanently, for church singing, the others are in the monastery’s metochion [3], at the bottom of the mountain, since there is nothing on the mountain, only dry rock and earth that is unsuitable for planting. The biggest problem is the lack of water; they drink rainwater, which they collect.

At the bottom of the mountain, at the distance of a poprishche [4], far away, there is a water source, the Agiazma of the Holy Cross [5], but the path for carrying water up is inconvenient, though the water is very healthful and beneficial, especially for the sick. At the bottom of the mountain, on the western side, is the first metochion [see Note 3] of this monastery, called St. Barbara, since there stands the church of the Great Martyr Barbara; in the size of its buildings it is as big as the monastery itself. There live several monks and there is kept all the food and drink for the whole monastery, and if something is needed, it is brought up to the monastery from there.

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I bowed down in that monastery to the honest and life-giving tree and, after lingering there and at other monastic holdings for three days, I returned once more to my travelling companion, and together we set off for Limassol, where we also lingered for three days, preparing for the journey we had planned. Finding a French ship bound for Alexandria, we climbed on board, and on the 18th of July sailed away from the glorious island of Cyprus, intending to reach Alexandria, located 500 miles away from there.

Stranstvovaniya Vasiliya Grigorovicha-Barskogo po svyatym mestam Vostoka s 1723 po 1747 / Edited by N. Barsukov. Part 1. 1723–1727 (St. Petersburg, 1885), 406–407.



Coordinates: 34.887300 33.437200 − Parking area near Stavrovouni Monastery.




[1] Stavrovouni Monastery is one of the most famous monasteries on the island even today. It has been an essential stop for pilgrims on Cyprus since ancient times. Among other Russian pilgrims, Stavrovouni, which translates in Greek as “Cross on the Mountain,” was visited by the abbot Daniil in 1106–1107 and Trifon Korobeinikov (who copied everything from Vasily Poznyakov) in the 16th century. Many testimonies were left by European pilgrims, in particular Wilbrand von Oldenburg in 1211. All were struck by the relic of the True Cross, which to them seemed to hang in the air.
In 1426 the monastery was thoroughly ransacked by the Egyptian Mamluks, and from then onwards, there were no further accounts of a cross floating in the air. Nor did the Turks leave the monastery untouched in 1570-71 during their conquest of Cyprus.
Today Stavrovouni is a functioning monastery, to which only members of the male sex have access. Its current appearance took shape at the beginning of the 19th century.
[2] A sazhen is an old Russian unit of length, measuring 2.13 metres.
[3] A metochion (from the Greek Μετόχιον, μετόχι) is an ecclesiastical embassy, a monastery’s representative bureau. This also includes the representation of a monastery in another town, a small monastery subordinated to a large one, as well as any of the monastery’s property beyond its boundaries.
[4] A poprishche is an old Russian measure of distance. It can vary in length from 185 metres (a Roman stadion) to 750 metres (a Greco-Roman mile) or even 1,480 metres (Russian sources from the 15th century). There is also the extremely vague definition of “a distance corresponding to one day’s journey”.
[5] Agiazma (αγιάσμα) is the usual Greek name for a holy spring.


Zykova N. V., Palomnichestvo na Kipr pravoslavny (po stopam Vasiliya Grigorovicha-Barskogo), (Larnaca, Izdatelstvo Russkogo pravoslavnogo obrazovatelnogo tsentra, 2013), 181-188 (the author notes in passing that Stavrovouni was a Benedictine monastery under the Crusaders).

Bliznyuk S.V., Leonty Makhera i ego khronika “Povest o sladkoi zemle Kipr” / Translated from the Cypriot dialect of medieval Greek, introductory essay and commentary by S.V. Bliznyuk (Moscow, 2018), 41–44, §§4–8 (an account of the founding of the monastery. Makhera writes that the cross of Stavrovouni is the cross of the Penitent Thief), 87, § 68, с. 446 §695 (on the looting of the monastery by the Saracens).

Zhitiye i khozhdeniye Daniila, russkiye zemli igumena. 1106-1107 / Edited by M.A. Venvetinova // Pravoslavniy Palestinsky Sbornik (1885), Volume 1, Edition 3, 11.

Kh.M. Loparev (Ed.), Khozhdeniye Trifona Korobeiknikova // Pravoslavniy Palestinsky Sbornik (St. Petersburg, 1889) Edition 27.

George Jeffery, Description of the Historic Monuments of Cyprus (Nicosia, 1918), 192.

Claude Delaval Cobham (translator), Excerpta Cypria. (Cambridge, 1908). No 4, 13 (Wilbrand von Oldenburg).


© Yuliya Buzykina
English translation by Alastair Gill