One view of the Monastery

Balconi with frescoes


The monastery lies on the western side of the Troodos Mountains at an altitude of about 1200 metres above sea level . The nearest villages are Tsakkistra and Kampos in a north-westerly direction , Milikouri in the south and Moutoullas in the east . To the west of the monastery extends a wonderful valley of cedars through which runs the road to Paphos .

The monastery is known under the name of Kykkos or the 'Mother of God of Kykkos" , but it is still not known where this name comes from . According to one tradition , the designation 'kykkos' or 'kokkos', is linked with the kermes oak (Latin 'quercus coccifera') which grew in this area a few centuries ago . Another version ascribed the expression 'kykkos' to a bird whose call 'kik-ko, kik-ko' became the name of the monastery .

Historical sources indicate that Kykkos was founded at the end of the eleventh century by the Byzantine ruler Alexios Komnenos I . At that time , Cyprus formed part of the East Roman Empire and the emperor regularly sent his governors to the island . They were given the title of duke . Among them was one of the emperor's most brilliant and highly honoured generals , Manuel Boutoumites . Boutoumites could not endure the oppressive heat and sultriness which prevails in Nicosia in summer , and like many other nobles , moved to cooler places with fresh air on account of his health . In the Middle Ages , this privilege was , of course , reserved for the upper classes on Cyprus . They often travelled to the area of Myrianthousa and stayed there for a while . The area offered them easy access to the nearby mountains and gorges , and they were able to go riding and hunting . One day , during such a summer vaccation , Boutoumites met an old hermit by the name of Isaiah . The latter accompanied him later to Constantinople in order to bring to Cyprus that icon which the Evangelist Luke is said , according to the legend , to have painted just seven years after the Crucifiction and Resurrection of Christ . Originally , this holy icon had been brought from Egypt to Constantinople . Its divine power helped , together with prayers , in the curing of the daughter of Emperor Alexios Komnenos . She had been suffering from an incurable disease , described as a kind of paralysis , the same affliction which later the Duke of Cyprus , Manuel Boutoumites , wanted to fight with the help of the picture of the Virgin Mary . After his return from the imperial palace in Constantinople , together with Isaiah , he brought the sacred icon to Cyprus and , following a divine command , set it up in the place in which the hermit had begun to build a church in the name of the Holy Trinity . In the same place , Isaiah founded a monastery to which he admitted all those who had come to become hermits with him . Therefore , to the present day the monastery is called "the Imperial and Stavropegial Monastery of Kykkos" . The term 'stavropegial' designates a cross lying under the foundation stone . After completion of the monastery , Isaiah became the first abbot . Shortly after his appointment , he began to draft rules under which the monks were to live in order to achieve the salvation of their souls .

The iconographic style of the icon of the Mother of God 'Kykkotissa' differs from all other icon types of the Virgin Mary . It shows her with her child . Christ sits on the right side of the Virgin with his naked legs hanging down . At the beggining of the twelfth century , this icon type - 'Kykkotissa' - was adopted by the Orthodox Christian world : by Cyprus , Egypt , Greece and larger areas in the Balkans . In the seventeenth century , thanks to the intellectual and cultural links with Cyprus , the 'Kykkotissa' type was also adopted in Russia .

Since the mid-eighteenth century , the holy pictures in the icon , those of the Mother of God and of the Child Christ , are veiled and not decked out like the rest of the icons . Nobody dares to look in the face , because many who did so in the past were punished . According to the hagiographic sources , the icon stood open so long as it was in the Emperor's palace . In 1576 , it was encased in a silver gilt cover which was replaced by a new one in 1795 . At that time , the holy icon stood on the left side of the main portal , before the entrance to the iconostasis . For many centuries it is said to have brought about numerous miracles within the monastery , and right down to the present it is the pride and symbol for the salvation of Cyprus . Therefore , not only Christians , but also non-Christians invoke the 'Holy Mother of God of Kykkos !' when they are in difficulties or danger .

In the course of its long history , the monastery of Kykkos and its residents faced many problems . The first catastrophic fire broke out in 1365 . The main church burned down together with many documents and relics . Immediately after , Queen Eleonora , the spouse of the tenth ruler of the French aristocratic family Lusignan , Peter I , had the monastery reconstructed . Conflagrations of similar dimensions took place in 1541 , 1751 and 1813 . Each time , the interior decorations together with the library were destroyed . That is why only a little written evidence of the early history of monastery has been preserved .