St Barnabas Monastery near Salamis
Icon of St Anthony the Great

The monastic movement was begun in Egypt by St. Anthony the Great in the mid 4th Century. Monasteries were usually built at the isolated sites where hermits had lived in caves or in small dwellings as had been the case of St. Anthony.  Their followers wanted to be close to the holy ascetics they revered. Monasteries were also built to protect precious relics and icons, or in some cases to house tombs.

The first monasteries of Cyprus were built to safeguard a holy relic brought from Jerusalem by Constantine’s mother; it was a piece of the True Cross.

Some monasteries and churches shelter the tombs of important religious persons as St. Lazarus and St. Barnabas. Cyprus as many monasteries that are famous for the icons they display or for the relics they revere.

In fact, there are so many Orthodox monasteries around the island it is impossible to discuss all of them using this medium. Whatever the reason for the construction of the monasteries, pilgrims through the ages as well as today still flock to them.

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