St Barnabas Monastery and Icon Museum, Famagusta

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#5 of 10 in Historic Sites in Famagusta
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St Barnabas Monastery and Icon Museum Reviews
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  • Just 2 km from the ancient city of Salamis is located the monastery of St. St. Barnabas in the midst of the dry landscape. There is an archaeological collection, which is considered the most important of its kind in Northern Cyprus in the monastery buildings themselves. When we visited the monastery, we were also completely alone. It can not be better.
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  • Nice stop after the hellish rounds of Salamis. on the way back to nicosia. very interesting little Museum of icons. worth a quick stop.
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  • The Gospel of Barnabas and a place to be seen for those who know the story. It's quite old and the oldest monastery, where you can see the architecture. The outer part could be better. Selling peanuts outside the monastery came to me very strange, I couldn't figure it out at all. You can see a lot of icons.
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  • Nice and interesting, the icons are something extra, but the place is fast decoming commercial, witch is a pity.
  • St Barnabas was one of the founders of the independent Greek Orthodox church, and is the patron saint of Cyprus. He, was born in Salamis to a Jewish family of the Levi clan, (the Levites from which the priests of the temple in Jerusalem were chosen), who had emigrated from Syria to Cyprus. He was originally called Sosis, a variant of Joseph. The gardens at St Barnabas monastery, Salamis, Near Famagusta, North While undertaking a religious education in Jerusalem, Barnabas was able to witness some of the miracles of Jesus, and in 33AD, he took up the faith of Jesus, and gave the family properties that he had inherited to the early church and the poor of Jerusalem. While he was in Jerusalem he was appointed Archbishop of Salamis, and in 45AD he returned to Cyprus, accompanied by his cousin and follower John Mark, and by Paul of Tarsus. The plan was to convert the sizable Jewish community to Christianity. Although he did not have a great deal of success, he managed to impress the Roman governor of the island, Sergius Paulus, to such an extent that he adopted the faith. Cyprus, therefore, became the first country in the world with a Christian ruler. The building that we see today dates from the 1750s. Once the centre of the Cyprus Orthodox church, the monastery is still in good condition. Outside the church there is a courtyard, surrounded on three sides by buildings that once housed the monks and pilgrims coming to pray at the monastery. Over the years, the number of resident monks reduced, and by the 1950s consisted of just three monks, Charitan (born 1887), Stephanos (born 1894), and Barnabas (born 1897). These three actual brothers dedicated themselves to the church from 1917 onwards. They took care of its upkeep, even building the bell tower in 1958. Most of their time was spent painting many of the frescoes and icons that are now on display. After 1974, the monastery and church stayed open, and religious ceremonies were held there, as the three brothers had stayed on. However, by 1976, old age and illness was taking its toll, and they decided to retire to the south. Although the three priests left in 1976, the monastery was maintained, as it continued to attract visitors. In 1991, a restoration project was started. The church has been restored and has been turned into a more comprehensive icon museum with the addition of new icons. The garden was redone, and the rooms of the monastery have become an archaeological museum. The monastery of St Barnabas is very important to the Orthodox Church, and is considered a place of pilgrimage. The opening of the border has seen a vast increase of the numbers of visitors to the site, and there are frequent church services held there. June 11th is the saint's day, and a special mass and festival was held here till 1974. People would come to the monastery to hear readings from the life of the saint. After a gap of 31 years, this event was reinstated in 2005. About 100 yards from the monastery, there is a small mausoleum built on the spot where the saint's remains were discovered. There are 14 steps which take you down to the cave under the building where the body of St Barnabas was hidden by his friends. The tomb was renovated (which included building the steps) in 1953. Between the mausoleum and monastery, you will see signs if a recent archaeological dig. It is thought that the area was once part of the necropolis of Salamis, but work is ongoing.
  • Saint Barnabas was a disciple of Jesus named in the Acts of the Apostles, and Church Tradition maintains that he is burried here so Christians make small pilgrimages here to pray with him (Barnabas, like all Saints, is eternally alive and Our Father always hears the prayers of the Saints). He is the patron Saint of Cyprus and his prayers are requested for peace on earth. He is falsely attributed as the author of "The Gospel of Barnabas" which all scholars agree is a relatively recent forgery which denies the divinity and death of Christ. This manuscript is only found in Italian and Spanish dating from the Middle Ages, likely written by a Christian convert to Islam. Saint Barnabas was found in his Tomb holding the Gospel according to Matthew, and anyone interested in learning what Saint Barnabas believed and died to preach should read the Gospel according to Matthew. You can go down into the tomb of Barnabas and pray with him and ask him to pray for your special needs. (Saints don't do anything for us except pray on our behalf; only God can answer our prayers.) There is also a wonderful icon museum in the old Monastery of Saint Barnabas. Saint Barnabas, pray for us that we may have peace on earth, freedom from evil and knowledge of the Gospel. May God give your soul supreme peace.
  • Most of the buildings are closed to the public, but the monastery has a museum of ancient pottery and other stuff. There is also a museum of icons. Icons are newly made (19-20th century ), but it has a large piece of original al fresco paintings.
  • Major Christian shrine, quite well preserved today, except for most of the icons that were looted by Turks after 1976.

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Where to stay in Famagusta

Although Famagusta was once a bustling tourist destination, the city enjoys far fewer tourists today. The hotels that remain tend to be orientated towards luxury travel, offering on-site restaurants, swimming pools, and even a private section of beach. Vacation rentals are more plentiful and often a good value, particularly if you're traveling in a large group. However, they are frequently set in residential neighborhoods. To make the most of Famagusta's nightlife, opt for a place within walking distance of Salamis Road.
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