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

13 (12) − 19 June 1727, Kikkos Monastery Печать
Хочу всё знать - Barskiy's Trail: Cyprus

A week among beauty and cedars

From Larnaca, Barsky returned to Limassol, from where on 13 June 1727 he set off on foot for the Kikkos Monastery, a journey which took him two days. He remained there for a week, “for the sake of the beauty of this monastery and holy place”, taking advantage of the cordiality and hospitality of the monks (and the absence of the abbot).

Visiting one of the island’s most important shrines for the first time, Barsky attempted to set down in as much detail as he could what he had seen: the organisation of the monastery, its architecture, and the rituals of services, shrines and objects of interest. Judging by the reference in the text, he sketched the icon of Our Lady of Kikkos, covered by an icon cover, though the drawing itself has not survived. Barsky learnt that Kikkos did not pay tribute to the Turks and drew attention to the crosses that stood out so vividly on the churches, which nobody had thought to take down (perhaps the Turks were simply too lazy to check this difficult-to-access place). He praised the water from a spring which even today still flows below the monastery walls, and also admired a cedar grove, stressing that he can tell cedar from pine, and that the cedars here are real ones. In retelling to the reader a monastic story about the icon of Our Lady of Kykkos, Barsky casts doubt on the theory that the icon was painted by Luke the Evangelist. He relied on his own erudition to come to this conclusion: the stories and legends on this subject hitherto available to him said nothing about Kikkos.

Having paid tribute to the hospitality of the monastic brethren, the pilgrim set off towards Morphou. He would return to Kikkos in 1735.

barsky On the second of June we once more set off for the port of Limassol, about which I have previously written, from where several days later, on Monday 13 June we left [Editor’s note: Monday in 1727 was 12 June] to worship at a monastery, called Panagia tu Kiku which is found two days’ walk from Limassol, between great mountains, in the desert [1].

Монастырь Киккос

We walked slowly, and arrived there on the third day; we were received honourably by the brothers (the abbot was not there) and stayed there as guests for a whole week, for the sake of the beauty of this monastery and holy place. This monastery some call Kikkos, and others Panagia tu Kiku, that is, Our Lady of Kikkos. Its buildings are small, but they are beautiful and beautifully situated; the whole monastery is built from stone, with tiled rooves on a wooden base; the buildings were only two-storey, one tier above another. The church there stands separately; it is not very big, but beautiful: it has one dome, upraised, with windows, of the same width and length; inside everything is covered with painted images of saints. There in the church there is one icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, called Hodegetria, holding in her right arm [2] Our Lord Jesus, like an infant, very sweet, like this [here we could expect a drawing, but there is none – Y.B.].

Икона Киккской Богоматери под окладом

The painting is not visible — it is all covered, apart from the face, by a wrought silver frame. Since ancient times — and even until now — the icon has been glorified by miracles; before it every day the monks sing a canon prayer. Not only the Cypriot people, but also the surrounding far countries hold this icon in great reverence. The church is three-altar in its structure, it has five entrances; the refectory, where the monks take their meals, stands high above the cells and buildings.

This monastery pays no tribute and is independent of the Hagarenes [3], and has crosses, erected on top of the church building, which means a great deal for Turkish land; this is in part for that reason that it stands in a deserted area, between high mountains, removed from towns and people, but firstly because the grace and attention of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary is always found there. This monastery stands in a very deserted area, on a site that is high and cool, and favourable, and very suitable for solitary monastic life.

Water for monastic needs, collected from rain, is kept in wells, and for drinking there is a spring in front of the monastery gates, in the valley it flows in a small stream; you cannot find better water on the whole island of Cyprus, because it is pure as crystal, cold as ice, so the teeth of the drinker can hardly bear it, healthy and light on the stomach, so it is useful not only to the healthy, but also to the infirm. This spring is called Αγιάσμα Παναγίας that is, the consecration of the Virgin, because they know that it takes its source from underneath the church.

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In a word, the monastery is well-provided in everything, not only the place, and the architecture, and the shrine, but also the good monks who are virtuous, humble, hospitable and reverent; their church rites, singing and monastic order are good; they have no cymbals, only two beaters of wood and iron, with these they announce the needs of the monastery. There is no vineyard, no garden, neither inside nor outside the monastery, but everywhere around desert and high mountains, upon them grow only forest trees: pevgi [4], cedars, planes, oaks and others.

You should know that pevgi is what the Greeks call the pine, which grows everywhere; the cypress grows in many countries, though not everywhere, the cedar in few; much have I travelled the earth, between high mountains, and not only have I not seen, but I have not heard of them. But on the island of Cyprus, not far from this monastery, in one place grow many cedars, from the cedar tree much has been done in the monastery, and so I went purposefully into the desert one day and saw how the cedar grows. But of this I will tell elsewhere. Wonderful cedars also grow on Mount Lebanon, in the lands of Galilee and Jerusalem; whether it grows in other places – I know not.

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Here it would be appropriate to supply a story about this icon by the Apostle Luke the Evangelist, because some say that it is not his, but somebody else’s. Greek historians narrate that Luke the Evangelist painted three different icons during the lifetime of the Mother of God, of these one is found in Malorossiya, in a city named Vilno [5], and it is called Eleusa, which in her left hand holds Our Lord Jesus Christ; the second in Morea [6], in a large cave, and she stands on her feet, and, extending her hands a little, prays; of the third they write that it is not known where it is located [7].

In this Kikkos Monastery the monks have a chronicle, where it is affirmed that their icon is the work of Luke the Evangelist and is called Hodegetria [8]. There was once in Constantinople an Orthodox dux [9], a Christian, named Isaac; his daughter was gravely ill and could not be cured, though her father gave much money to doctors. There was at the same time on the Cypriot island a certain virtuous old man named Isaiah; he lived in the desert, between the mountains, in one cave, devoting himself to God (the cave still exists today, high in the mountains, not far from the monastery); the Blessed Virgin Mother of God appeared to him in a dream and said: go to Constantinople and command by my name that if he wants, then his daughter will be cured; for this let him send me the icon that the Evangelist Luke painted, to Cyprus, and let him build a church on this place (and showed the old man the location where the monastery now stands). The hermit set off for Constantinople without delay, made himself known to the dux Isaac, and when that one agreed to do everything, at this very moment his daughter stood up from her bed and was cured. That holy icon was sent with great accompaniment and honour from Constantinople to Cyprus to the indicated place, and they built a small church; afterwards, through the efforts of many ktitors [10] it grew into a small monastery, the most perfect and first cenobitic monastery on Cyprus [11], where there were more than a hundred monks, but within the monastery they appear seldom, because they are sent for penance to the metokhi, that is, monastic possessions and representations; from these metokhi they bring food and drink, and have all sorts of income from this. And so to this day that icon is found there, glorified with miracles, and this monastery is wonderful in its grace, flourishes in safety, and the monks have all they need.

Stranstvovaniya Vasiliya Grigorovicha-Barskogo po svyatym mestam Vostoka s 1723 po 1747 / Edited by N. Barsukov. Part 1. 1723–1727 (St. Petersburg, 1885), 400–404



Coordinates: 34.983040 32.741600 − Kikkos Monastery




[1] By “desert” Barsky means a wild place where there are no towns or settlements, and not a climatic zone.
[2] In the right hand.
[3] Hagarene – from the name Hagar, slave girl of the forefather Abraham, who bore him a son – Ishmael and cast out into the desert after Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac. Collective definition of Muslims in medieval literature.
[4] He means pines.
[5] Barsky writes that Vilno (Vilnius) is located in Malorossiya (“Little Russia”). Malaya Rossiya, Malorossiya (a direct translation of the medieval Greek Μικρὰ Ῥωσία, Lat. Russia/Ruthenia minor) is the historical name for a group of Rus lands, predominantly on the territory of modern-day Ukraine, and partly also in Russia, Belarus and Poland. The name first appeared in the early 14th century as a Byzantine ecclesiastical administrative definition for the Principality of Galicia-Volhynia and the Principality of Turov and Pinsk. From the 16th century “Malaya Rossiya” was the Orthodox literary name for all west Russian lands within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, from which White Russia was later separated. From the 17th century onwards, Malorossiya was one of the official names for the Cossack Hetmanate. From then onwards it was used to denote the historical region of the Russian Empire and the Gubernia of Malorossiya. Vilnius is the capital of modern-day Lithuania, which was part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but was never part of Malorossiya. It is possible that Barsky’s error stems from the fact that an Orthodox icon could be found only in places to which the Byzantine church administration had at some time expanded, calling the region Malaya Rossiya. Ideas of geography at the time were somewhat different from ours, and of course the invention of the printing press also marked the advent of the typographical error, and Barsky knew the Middle East better than he did his native Malorossiya.
[6] Morea was the name given to the Peloponnese peninsula in southern mainland Greece during the medieval era and early modern period.
[7] This information was in conflict with what Barsky knew at that time about the icons painted by Luke. We can suppose that the source of Barsky’s knowledge about the miraculous icons of the Mother of God were the works of Ioanniky Galyatovsky (for example: A New Sky, Created with New Stars, That Is, the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God with her Miracles (Lviv, 1665)), which also refers to Greek historians, in particular Kedrin. However, in an 1854 publication available to me called Neba Novogo (A New Sky with New Stars, or An Account of the Miracles of the Holy Mother, printed in 1677 in Chernigiv in what the authors described as “Polish-Russian”, which draws upon reliable accounts and the ancient chronicles of Abbot Ioanniky Galyatovsky: With the Addition of Stories about the Miraculous Tikhvin, Vladimir and Hodegetria Icons of the Holy Mother and Others, Also about the Position of the Robe of the Virgin in the Church of St. Mary of Blachernae / Translated in 1849 by Alexandra Plokhovo. Moscow: A. Semena, 1854) we find no information about the three icons painted by Luke the Evangelist (though there is testimony that Luke painted Our Lady of Vladimir), but Barsky could have used a different treatise, similar to this one. These were known to Barsky from back in his schooldays, when he studied at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. So we continue to search…
[8] “The legend of three icons, painted by the Apostle Luke, where each of them is found, and the icon of the Mother of God, named Kikkos, which is found on Cyprus”, written down in 1422 from the words of a 125-year-old Kikkos priest named Grigory. The legend recounts that the mountain on which this monastery was founded was originally named Kokkos, but was later renamed Kikkos (Κωνσταντινίδης. 2002. Σ. 102, 109) (Orthodox Encyclopaedia. Online resource.)
[9] This is the word Barsky uses. What is a dux? A ruler, a duke, certainly not a tsar! It is probably a kind of play on words based on duke and duce.
[10] A ktitor (Gr . Κτήτωρ) was a contributor or donor to the construction of a church or monastery.
[11] Today the Kikkos Monastery is no longer cenobitic.

Unfortunately, there are no drawings. They have not survived.

Literature, links

Zykova N. V., Palomnichestvo na Kipr pravoslavny (po stopam Vasiliya Grigorovicha-Barskogo), (Larnaca, Izdatelstvo Russkogo pravoslavnogo obrazovatelnogo tsentra, 2013), 53-65.

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), 66-67 (Leonty Makhera also believes that Our Lady of Kikkos was painted by Luke the Evangelist).

Kikkos Monastery. Orthodox Encyclopaedia. Online resource.

Our Lady of Kikkos. Orthodox Encyclopaedia. Online resource.


© Yuliya Buzykina
English translation by Alastair Gill