The remote and little accessible mountainous interior of Cyprus hides ten churches. They are all modest on the outside, but with beautiful mural paintings inside.
The UNESCO World Heritage List includes several hundred properties with outstanding universal value. They are all part of the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
Date of Inscription: 1985
Category: Cultural site
UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre’s short description of site no. 0351:
This region is characterized by one of the largest groups of churches and monasteries of the former Byzantine Empire. The complex of 10 monuments included on the World Heritage List, all richly decorated with murals, provides an overview of Byzantine and post-Byzantine painting in Cyprus. They range from small churches whose rural architectural style is in stark contrast to their highly refined decoration, to monasteries such as that of St John Lampadistis.
There are many churches in Cyprus, some with old murals; but only ten have been picked as World Heritage Sites. We managed to visit six in a single day, and got inside five of them. These churches, the oldest dating back to the 11th century, receive few visitors and few churches are open during the daytime unless you have an arrangement with the holder of the keys. It was worth the effort: The murals are amazing, absolutely stunning centuries old masterpieces covering the walls and in many cases also the ceilings of the small churches. The exterior of the churches is more modest.
There are parallels among World Heritage Sites to the rare Cypriotic churches: The stave churches of Norway is one, the churches of Chiloe in Chile is another.
Read more about my visit.
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