Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Cyprus - My 7 day circuit across the country - Day 7 early morning - The Forest Park Hotel - The 11th of November 2016

I woke up with a sense of having been drained ... I had felt quite restless the night before and had therefore searched personal balance in reading the book on the Cypriot church frescoes, I had previously bought, till around four in the morning.
Having had to wake up fairly early wasn't too dificult particularly as I opened the bedroom balcony and felt the air of the Troodos mountains, though I clearly envisaged I'd feel some tiredness during the day ...

Cyprus - My 7 day circuit across the country - Day 6 afternoon - Troodos Mountains - Lagoudhera - the UNESCO Church of Panagia Tou Arakos and the Church of Timiou Stavrou in Agia Eirini - The 10th of November 2016

When we reached the church of Panagia Tou Arakos the priest who was supposed to let us in hadn't yet arrived so we were entitled to a thorough explanation as to what we were expected to see in its interior, which according to Michel were some of the most beautiful frescoes of the island  said to have been painted by a certain Leon Authentou who arrived from Constantinople in 1192 and worked in the so called aristocratic Kommenos style. 

I wasn't prepared for what I later saw, because undoubtedly the frescoes were of outstanding beauty. Christ Pantocrator in a blue robe with his eyes looking to one side (which according to locals means looking away from our sins and thus giving us time to repent) had a strong impact on me and my senses. There he was in the central part of the dome surrounded by angels in medallions and the twelve prophets further down on the drum overlooking every move we made. Despite having to look up I coudn't help but be drawn to his expression. almost every time we admired other frescoes, many of them associated with the life of Mary, which I also found to be equally impressive, particularly the annunciation where Archangel Michael's posture is totally different form the ones we are commonly used to.

I could have spent hours just looking around and listening to Michel ... but we had to move further onto another site before the sun set. The weather seemed to be changing and driving around these mountains wasn't easy. We were lucky to have had Sean, a British resident in Cyprus, as our driver because apart from his rather odd looks and attitudes he was beyond no doubt a very careful and concientious driver. 

We briefly visited the Church of Timiou Stavrou, whose paintings mostly depict the life and death of Christ before reaching the hotel. We were once more not allowed to take pictures inside ...

Cyprus - My 7 day circuit across the country - Day 6 early afternoon - Troodos Mountains - Strolling around Omodos - The 10th of November 2016

Strolling around the narrow streets of Omodos was like being in some of the villages back home, so similar was the overall atmosphere. We visited an old wine making mill, which again brought back memories from Portugal, before heading to a local tavern where we had a typical meal.
As I walked out of the tavern I looked at the Troodos mountain slopes and felt excited with what the afternoon would unveil. We would finally be able to explore some of Troodos' frescoe painted churches ... and I just couldn't wait ...




Cyprus - My 7 day circuit across the country - Day 6 late morning -Troodos Mountains - Omodos -Timiou Stavrou Monastery (Monastery of the Holy Cross) - The 10th of November 2016

A rather undescribable feeling took over me as I watched the slopes of the Southern part of the Troodos mountains from the bus ... what it was about I don't exactly know but it was as if I was getting closer to what I had come for.

We stopped at Omodos, one of the Krassochoria vine growing villages for a few moments before visiting its Monastery, so as to buy some local products which ranged from alcoholic beverages, jellies, rusks, arkatena bread, as well as brocades, threaded quilts, narrow-knit and Chantilly laces. 

The 12th century Monastery of the Holy Cross, one of the oldest and most historic monasteries of Cyprus stood in the centre of the village, its timber roofed monastic buildings surrounding a three hall Basilica which we spent a short time at. According to legend St. Helena, Mother of Emperor Constantine, left there a piece of the rope with which Christ is supposed to have been tied to the cross. The relic is is kept in a cross-shaped reliquary and so is another venerated relic- the skull of St. Philip's, which is kept in a silver casket.
I just strolled around quiet and curiously, once more feeling people's religious attachement to icons and letting the surrounding atmosphere take over me ...