Makheras Monastery, Nicosia Makherás
Southwest of Nicosia is the Monastery of Makheras, situated on a windy hill commanding extensive views.This monastery (12mi/19km from Nicosia) was founded by two monks in 1148, when an icon of the Virgin Mary was found in a nearby cave. The Emperor Comnenos gave them funds to build the monastery and it received many royal visitors, including the wife of Hugh IV, who was allegedly struck dumb after entering the sanctuary which was forbidden to women.The monastery burned down twice in 1530 and 1892 and the current buildings show little sign of its long history. However, it has continued to play a role in Cyprus' more modern history. Grigoris Afxentiou, the second in command of the EOKA guerrillas who opposed British rule, was ambushed close to the monastery.The monastery is set in a picturesque dip in the Makhairas Mountains.
Useful tips: Women are not permitted to visit the monastery.
Tamassus Ancient Site
Near Makheras Monastery is the Tamassus Ancient Site. This site was famous for its copper production and may have been the Temese mentioned early in the Odyssey, when Athene, pretending to be Mentes, tells Telemachus that she has been sailing in the dark sea to a foreign land and the city of Temese.This site has been inhabited since 2500 B.C. and in 800 B.C. it became a Phoenecian colony. The copper mines were owned by various illustrious monarchs, ranging from Alexander the Great to Herod. It was also the birthplace of two saints. The first was St Heraclidos, the first Bishop of Cyprus, who served as a guide to St Barnabas and St Paul, when they came to the island. The second was St Mnason, Heraclidos' successor, who was known for performing miracles. This led to the site becoming the earliest center of Christianity on the island.Some ruins have been revealed in the area, including two underground tombs, and ancient houses.