In order to see all the monasteries that Cyprus has, you definitely have to make many trips. Some of them can be put first on your list. Like the Monastery of Our Lady of Araka. A monastery located near the village of Lagoudera in Nicosia.
The history of the monastery and its name
The name of the Monastery is definitely special and you don’t easily forget it. The Monastery of Panagia of Arakas is considered to have gotten its name either from the pea plant or from the word ierakas i.e. the falcon. Its history begins around the 12th century. It goes back to the churches created in the Middle Byzantine period. However, unfortunately, it declined in the 18th century. Thus, today, only the two-storey monastery building on the north side of the church used as the priest’s residence can be seen.
Cyprus and the Architecture of the Temple
The Monastery of Panagia of Arakas looks architecturally like other monasteries in Cyprus. So it’s a one-aisled type with a dome. Externally the roof is shaped like a cross. What stands out in the monastery is definitely its frescoes. It presents a completed series with frescoes of the neoclassical rhythm of Byzantine art. Cyprus has other monasteries with this style as well. If you are a little cognizant of this kind of art, you will see the rich movement of the garments, the elegant and refined forms with Hellenistic influence and the rich representation on all the walls of the church.
The most famous images of the church are considered those of Christ and the Virgin Mary of Arakas which date back to the end of the 12th century. The painter pays a lot of attention to the details and with the intense confrontation of light and shadow on the face, especially that of Christ’s.
Since 1985, the church of Panagia of Arakas has been included along with nine other wall-painted Byzantine churches of Troodos mountain, in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
It is definitely a religious monument in Cyprus, that you should see up close…