Tradition has it that Byzantine Emperor, Alexios Comnenos I (1081-1118) was prompted to establish the Holy Royal and Stavropegial Monastery of the Virgin of Kykkos. He was so prompted after the hermit Isaiah, who lived in the Troodos Mountains, revealed that the emperor’s’ daughter could be healed from a rare incurable disease, if he would consent to build a monastery and donate to it the icon of the Virgin which he possessed and which, reputedly, was painted by the Apostle Luke.
The fame of the Holy Icon as miracle-working spread throughout Orthodoxy. During the last nine hundred years, thousands of pilgrims, emperors to paupers, have traveled to the monastery to seek the Virgin’s help, many of them bearing votive gifts and precious offerings. They would place them before the Virgin’s icon as a fulfillment of a vow or in gratitude for a miraculous response to their prayers.
The museum of the monastery was conceived by Abbot Nikiforos. Its purpose was twofold: to reflect the magnificence and majesty of the Byzantine Empire; and to highlight the term “royal,” which is part of the official title of the monastery and which binds it directly to the imperial palace of Constantinople, from whence the monastery derived its foundation and endowment. The floors of the museum are made of multi-coloured granite and marble, while the ceilings are covered with walnut and enriched with woodcarving and gilding. The decorative effect is enhanced by iconic and symbolic themes in marble, and by stone carvings and frescoes.
It is also one of the most up-to-date museums on the island, utilising all the latest lighting and climatic devices for the display and preservation of the priceless treasures. Designed to form an integral part of the existing monastery complex, the museum consists of five adjoining areas, our galleries and a gift shop.
The first gallery houses a display of ancient pottery and ceramics, covering a period of twenty-six centuries, from 23008.C. – 330AD. The second exhibits various objects of the Byzantine and post-Byzantine world, from early Christian times (fourth century A.D.) to the middle of the twentieth century.
The third, an octagonal gallery, has a dome with Christ Pantocrator painted by Sozos Giannoudis. It contains icons, Byzantine frescoes, wood carvings and church furniture.
The fourth, a smaller octagon with built-in showcases, displays documents, gospels, illuminated manuscripts and books published by the monastery.
The museum offers for sale copies of some of the exhibits, photos, and other souvenirs, as well as a guide to the museum authored by its curator, Stylianos K. Perdikis.