Agios Minas Monastery
Agios Minas monastery is on the road between Vavla and Kato Drys in the Larnaca district. It is situated just down from us so you can often hear the nuns singing when sitting out first thing in the morning or in the evening. However, the nuns have not always been there and the monastery has had quite a range of of uses in its history.
The History of Agios Minas Monastery
There is no definitive answer to the question about when the monastery was first built. The first documented mention of the monastery was in 1562 although it is thought that the monastery probably dates from the 15th century. After the Ottomans took over Cyprus, the monastery continued to exist. A document by a monk in 1608 confirmed its operation as does a further document dated 1610.
On the 11th November 1734 a Russian monk (Vasilios Barsky) came to the monastery and wrote that a great feast was taking place (the 11th November is the celebration day of Agios Minas). Barsky wrote that the monastery was poor with few monks and those that were there lived by the fruits of their labour and some charity. In 1754 the monastery underwent renovation and evidence of this is recorded on an inscription by the entrance to the monastery. In 1825 the monastery had only 8 monks and by 1837, the last recorded evidence of monastic activity, the decline of Agios Minas as a monastery began.
The land and buildings were rented out to a succession of local people. In 1881, although it was not realised at the time, a turning point came for the continuance of the buildings of Agios Minas. Oikonomos Ioannikios rented Agios Minas monastery and realised that without substantial remedial work the buildings were in danger of collapse. With support from the Bishop of Kiti he renovated the roof and added a store room. His efforts are credited with saving the monastery from abandonment and dereliction.
Agios Minas Monastery Today
The arrival of nuns at the monastery happened on the 29th March 1965. With hard work and persistence the nuns set about renovating the cells and church. They added workshops and other buildings. They also improved the surrounding land by cultivating fruit trees and planting gardens with vegetables. They built two chapels, one in 1973 and one in 1990. Gradually more nuns settled at the monastery. Today the nuns are still engaged in agriculture as well as icon painting.
Who was Agios Minas?
Agios Minas was born in Egypt in 250AD. As he grew up he joined the Roman army and demonstrated all the characteristics of an excellent military man such as bravery and athleticism. In 296AD Minas found out that his general had ordered his troops to attack Christians. He refused to continue his military life and deserted.
Minas went up into the mountains to concentrate on prayer and cementing his faith. He eventually came down from the mountains and tackled the people about their way of life. This enraged the powers that be who had Minas arrested. He was ordered to acknowledge that he had insulted the Gods and Kings but when he refused he was imprisoned to await his fate. It was decided that Minas would be tortured until he changed his belief that there was only one true God. After each ordeal Minas would reaffirm his beliefs, which incurred the wrath of the Governor who then instructed ever increasingly arduous tortures. Eventually, realising that Minas would not agree to honour the Gods and Kings, it was ordered that Minas would be beheaded. This happened on the 11th November 296AD which is why this day is the feast day of Agios Minas.
How to get to Agios Minas Monastery
Getting to the monastery is fairly straightforward as it is signposted from the A1 motorway. At junction 14 you will see the brown signs indicating your exit. Coming from the west, once you come off the motorway slip road turn left and then in a few hundred metres turn right. If you are coming from the east then you will need to take a right as you come off the slip road. Follow the road under the motorway bridge and at the junction turn right again. You will turn right again after 400 metres or so. You stay on this road for some time as it snakes up in to the hills – going past the Rainbow taverna and the Choirokitia Palace on your left. Eventually you will see a sign for Vavla/Kato Drys as well as Agios Minas Monastery – turn right here and go down through the Vavla. Follow the signs for Agios Minas Monastery. In a few minutes you will see the large car park on your left and the monastery itself on the right… you have arrived!
Don’t forget if you do decide to visit that the usual standards of dress apply when visiting religious sites. Also bear in mind that the monastery is closed from the 1st October through to the 30 April between 12 to 2pm. The contact number for further information is +357 24342952.
You can also see more pictures from our visit by visiting the photo gallery.