Painted Churches, Troodos Region, Cyprus

archangel michael church cyprus
The Archangel Michael is the most prominent painting in the Archangel church in Pedhoulas.

The 10 so-called Painted Churches of the Troodos Region of Cyprus collectively make up an Unesco World Heritage site. Unfortunately for anyone trying to visit them, finding them open for viewing is a rather hit and miss affair. We rented a car and spent a few hours trolling the Troodos area mountains for these churches. We found three of them, after a lot of false starts up some rather dicey mountain roads. Unfortunately, of the three we reached, only one was open, the Archangel Michael church in Pedhoulas.

virgin mary archangel michael church cyprus
The Virgin Mary over the altar, flanked by two archangels.

But, it was worth the drive and time, because it was spectacular. Most of the 10 churches were painted in the 12th Century in the distinctive Byzantine style of the era. But the Archangel Church of Pedhoulas was done about 200 years later. The name of the painter has been lost, and some of the literature about the church defines him as a mere copyist without his own distinctive style.

constantine helena archangel michael church cyprus
The Roman emperor Constantine and his mother, Helena, who claimed to have discovered the “true” cross. Constantine, of course, legalized the Christian religion in the Roman Empire in the 4th Century. Hence their place in the church, and the cross iconography.

However, it seems to me that he wielded his brushes confidently, and his work is bold, colorful, and fascinating. I'm sorry we didn't get to any other of the churches, but we're definitely going back to Cyprus some day to see the rest. Before we do, though, I'm going to figure out how to arrive at them all coincident with someone who can open them up to viewing. Because if the ones we didn't see are even better than this one, I'm going to be very sorry if I never see them.

building archangel michael church cyprus
You can see that the church isn't very big. We were lucky to find it open.

The Painted Churches of Troodos are Unesco World Heritage sites in Cyprus. For a list of all Cyprus Unesco World Heritage sites, with links to posts about the ones we've visited, click here.

8 thoughts on “Painted Churches, Troodos Region, Cyprus”

    • Yeah, we could have planned a lot better. I think the real way to do it is hire a Cypriot, and have him make arrangements ahead of time to find someone to open the churches. We really didn’t think they’d be closed. Oh, and if you’re going to see all 10, better allow at least two, maybe three, days.

  1. These are amazing. The technology needed to get this kind of detail and finish in painting in the 12th-14th centuries is mind-boggling. Something else I didn’t know that I really wanted to see.

    • Debra, and one of the coolest things about these churches is that the painting is all right there at eye level where you can really get a good look at it. You can walk right up to the paintings and even touch them…although of course you shouldn’t. I wasn’t kidding when I said we want to go back to see them all. Cyprus is a fascinating place. I want to go and spend a few months there and see it all.

  2. When I visited, I loved seeing the beautiful frescoes which you’ve captured here. I thought it was kind of fun, while frustrating, to search out the churches, then someone to open them up!

    • I admit, Corinne, to really screwing the pooch on this one. We could have done so much better. The first tip we should have taken ourselves was to start earlier in the day. We did start fairly early (for us) but got lost once and ended up seeing another attraction (the Sanctuary of Aphrodite) that wasn’t on the agenda and ended up chewing up a couple of hours. Like we always say, next time we’ll do it right. But usually, we don’t.


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