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

3-13 May 1727, Levkosia Печать
Хочу всё знать - Barskiy's Trail: Cyprus

The garden city of Levkosia

 The journey by mule from Limassol to Levkosia took three days. On arrival, Vasily Grigorovich-Barsky and his companion Dionysius were honoured with a reception from the archbishop, whose power and influence on Cyprus were historically vast and exceeded any archepiscopal authority. During the Ottoman era, the management of the local Christian population, including legal proceedings, was delegated by the Turks to the archbishop.

The wayfarers found shelter for a short while in a pilgrims’ lodge at the Church of St. Anthony. This practice is somewhat similar to the European one: during his wanderings in what is now Austria and Italy, Barsky stayed in such hostels at the churches along the pilgrimage route. As a rule, these were free, but there were limitations on how long one could stay.

Levkosia was the Cypriot capital, so accordingly, the archbishop and representative of Turkish authority, as well as prominent merchants, had their residences there. The city seemed beautiful to Barsky, but it was clear that the capital remembered better times. The Turks had destroyed the beautiful stone houses built under the Venetians, and they had turned the Gothic Cathedral of St. Sophia into a mosque, as they had done with most of the Christian churches. The new houses they built in the capital were small, and made from adobe brick. The city was awash in greenery and resembled a garden. Besides the Turks and the Greeks, Armenians and “Romans” could also be found in Levkosia. By “Romans” Barsky could mean either Catholics, natives of Rome, or German peoples from the Holy Roman Empire (by then the Austro-Hungarian Empire, whose present-day successor is Austria). He evaluates the city’s fortifications with walls and a moat, counts the number of city gates, illustrates the city’s location in relation to the mountains and mentions that they supply water (in the form of the river Pedios) to Levkosia. Having provided these details of strategic significance and recorded the view of Levkosia, dominated by its cathedral-mosque, in a drawing, Barsky set off for Larnaca. He spent 10 days in total looking around the capital.

barsky We set off on mules for the capital of Cyprus, called Levkosia[1]


on May 1st and reached it on the third day. There we went immediately to the archbishop of Cyprus, who is held there in great honour, and he gave us his bishop’s blessing and sent us for a short stay in a hotel by the church of St. Anthony [2], which stood where once there had been a monastery, and now there was a parish church. We stayed there for several days and visited all the churches and monasteries of the town.


The town of Levkosia on the island of Cyprus is the largest and most important, since there lives the Turkish ruler, master of all of Cyprus [3] and the pre-eminent Christian bishop, and all judgements are performed there. The town was once beautiful, when it was in the possession of the Venetians [4], It is of complex Venetian structure, as can be understood from the city walls and the old foundations of houses, of which there are few left, but especially from local lore. When the Hagarenes [5], through war, by God’s allowance, took it (Levkosia) in their hands, they devastated everything and wrecked to their foundations the houses and wonderful palaces, of which some remains of buildings and a church can be found even now. They were of very beautiful construction, especially the Cathedral of St. Sophia, which has survived even to this day [6]. It is huge and most beautiful, built of rare stone, and visible from afar even from outside the city; now the Turks have turned it into their mosque, where they gather and make prayer, and the Christian cannot enter inside.


For this reason, I cannot present its inner beauty; I only heard how beautiful it is from master Christians, who worked inside for a time for the needs of the building at the order of the Hagarenes. Now, of course, atop of the old stone bases (foundations), the houses are all built of unfired adobe bricks, and whitewashed with lime inside. There live all the most important and richest people and merchants: among them there are more Turks than Christians; there are also Romans and Armenians. There are just nine churches of the Christians inside the town; the rest are all Turkish mosques, transformed from holy churches. Inside the town there is not a single Greek monastery; there is one French one [7] and one Armenian church [8]. From the outside, with its wall, the city is strong and handsome [9], inside the buildings are not very fine, but the town is beautiful thanks to the large number of fruit trees, which from afar resemble a kind of garden, since every house has its orchard with lemons, oranges, apples and other different trees, and dates in the most bountiful abundance. The town has three gates [10], with watchmen, and along the walls of the city are several cannons. Around the town a moat has been dug, which fills with water when it rains.


It (the town) sits on a level field, low; high mountains stand around it in the distance. It has abundant water, which flows into the town from the mountains, and it is from this that all the gardens are fed. There we stayed 10 days, and from there, on May 18, we came to Larnaca [11], a town standing close to the sea.

Stranstvovaniya Vasiliya Grigorovicha-Barskogo po svyatym mestam Vostoka s 1723 po 1747 / Edited by N. Barsukov. Part 1. 1723–1727 (St. Petersburg, 1885), 397-398



Coordinates: 34.673650 33.044180




[1] Levkosia – Nicosia.
[2] The Church of St. Anthony still stands today. A single-nave construction with a belfry, it is one of the few churches built in the 18th century, under the Turks (!)
[3] Sultan. The Turks ruled Cyprus from 1571 to 1914, when they were replaced by the British.
[4] The Venetians ruled Cyprus from 1489-1571.
[5] Hagarene – from Hagar, the slave girl of the Biblical patriarch Abraham. Hagar bore him a son – Ishmael – but was then cast out into the desert after Abraham’s wife Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac. “Hagarenes” was often used as a collective definition of Muslims in medieval literature.
[6] The Cathedral of St. Sophia, today the Selimiye Mosque. It was built from 1209 to 1325 in the Gothic style. Along with the Cathedral of St. Nicholas in Famagusta, it was the venue for royal coronations and served as Cyprus’s metropolitan cathedral.
[7] It appears he is talking about the Franciscan Church of the Holy Cross at the Paphos Gate. The Franciscans were present in Cyprus from the moment the order was established. The founder of the order himself, Francis of Assisi, probably stayed here during his pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The Franciscans came to Cyprus with Guy of Lusignan. In 1571 the Turks drove all Catholic orders from the island, but the Franciscans had already returned by 1593. In 1642 they finished building a new church, which functioned until the 19th century. Perhaps Barsky also visited this church. The remains of this building, in the Gothic style, can be seen today not far from the Paphos Gate. In addition, Nicosia is also home to the Holy Land College.
[8] The 13th-century Armenian Cathedral of the Holy Mother of God. This territory is today occupied by the Turks, and the Armenians of Cyprus have built themselves a new church.
[9] The fortifications of Nicosia, which have a star-shaped outline when seen from above, were built by the Venetians in the period from 1567 to 1570, towards the end of their rule, to protect the inhabitants of the city from attacks from the Ottoman Empire. The fortifications were built by the Venetian military engineers Giulio Savorgnano and Franscesco Barbaro). The fortress has 11 bastions and three gates (see below). The bastions bear the names of aristocratic Italian families who lived in the city and took financial part in the construction of the fortifications.
[10] Three gates: the Paphos Gate, the Famagusta Gate, the Kyrenia Gate.
[11] Larnaca.


Continue the journey


Kykkos Monastery



Zykova N. V.,
Palomnichestvo na Kipr pravoslavny (po stopam Vasiliya Grigorovicha-Barskogo), (Larnaca: Izdatelstvo Russkogo pravoslavnogo obrazovatelnogo tsentra, 2013), 14, 18.

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Stylianou A. & J.. The painted churches of Cyprus. Treasures of Byzantine Art. Nicosia, 1985. 2nd edition: Nicosia, 1997. Pp. 17, 18, 38, 42, 71, 72, 75, 496, 497.


© Yuliya Buzykina
English translation by Alastair Gill