Church of Panagia Evangelistria

Useful Information

Church of Panagia Evangelistria. Public Domain.
Location: South of Xylofagou, Larnaca district. British Overseas Territories, Dhekelia.
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SubterraneaCave Church
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1426 monastery destroyed by raiding Turk pirates.
1879 Bible and icon rediscovered and chapel built.
1980 chapel renovated.
2013 chapel renovated.


The Church of Panagia Evangelistria has a great history and tradition. Originally there was a monastery on the same site which was founded in the 13th century. It was completely destroyed by the raids of Turk pirates in 1426 who killed all the monks. But the monks had hidden the Bible and the icon of the Virgin Mary in the nearby cave named Spileo tis Panagias (Panagia Cave). The pirates did not find them and because the monks were dead they were forgotten until they were rediscovered in 1879. Hatzias, the local who rediscovered them, told he had seen a vision of where the icon was buried. The next day he went to the cave with his brother, and they dug until they found the icon. The locals tried to take it to the village, but they could not move it. So they realised that the icon was meant to stay in the cave. They decided to leave it and build a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary in the cave.

The name of the destroyed monastery was Panagia tou Syrmatou as it was located in an area called Syrma, a place where storms pass. The new cave chapel was called Panagia Evangelistria after the icon of the Virgin Mary. The staircase down into the cave from the northern side shows footprints in the rocks which according to tradition, belong to the Virgin Mary. Both the chapel and the cave of the Virgin Mary are considered to be miraculous.