The monastery of the Saint Cross found in Omodos Village is also known as Holy Cross and Honest Cross monastery. In Greek this is Timios Stavros (Μοναστήρι του Τιμίου Σταυρού) which means Honest.
Holy Cross monastery is the oldest monastery in Cyprus. Although its location is in Omodos Village, Limassol region, the monastery belongs to the Holy Metropolis of Paphos. There are many stories told as to how the monastery’s existence came to be. One such story is that in the villages of Pano and Kato Koupetra had seen fire and smoke coming from bushes. When they would approach the area, they would find nothing. This went on several times over the following nights until the villagers noticed something. They found a cave with a cross inside. Have in mind this village long disappeared and no longer exists.
Another story is that Queen Elena, on her travels from Jerusalem came to Cyprus to wait out a storm and rest. Some say that she had a Divine vision, she saw the cross on the mountain where Stavrovouni is now located. Others say she found it up there after their waking up in the morning. Whatever seems to be the case, part of the Holy Cross was left in the monastery that was built on that mountain. Later on, part of the Cross was gifted to Timios Stavros Monastery in Omodos.
Whichever legend is true, the only certain element here is that parts of the True Cross are found in many monasteries around the world. In Cyprus you will find a fragment at Timios Stavros and also Stavrovouni.
No one can really determine exactly when Holy Cross Monastery was built but they are for certain it was before Omodos Village came to be. It is also thought the monastery existed even before Queen Elena came to Cyprus.
In order to enter the church, you must be covered up modestly, if you are not, they usually have cloaks that you can wear on top of your clothes. Once inside you will find the church has many arches inside and beautiful icons adorning the walls and to the far end is the iconostasis. This is a three tired gold-plated iconostasis.
What’s most impressive is the wood work on the ceilings that adorn the corridors but especially the vaulted entrance door. The vaulted arched door was used to protect the church of any attacks during the Ottoman rule.
Out in the courtyard you will find two story buildings surrounding the church in formation of the Greek letter Π. To the north is the monks’ sleeping quarters, Synod and guest rooms are. To the south is the Wearhouse and animal barns which are now empty. To the west is the Museum of Byzantine Art which houses a large variety of icons.
The museum also has a section which is dedicated to the liberations of Cyprus 1955-1959. Moreover, you can also find a room in the Synod which is set up just as it was when Queen Helena stayed there. Other areas in the hall are used to showcase folk art, galleries, exhibitions and even photography exhibitions. Entrance to the Church and Museum are free but opening times vary.
When visiting Cyprus make sure you have this Monastery at the top of you to see list as you will see and amazing Monastery with great history and importance. Furthermore, you will also experience the beautiful village of Omodos and see it’s rich history too.