St Barnabas Icon and Archaeology Museum in Famagusta, North Cyprus.
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St Barnabas Icon and Archaeology Museum

St Barnabas Monastery
St Barnabas Monastery
photo by: TAK News Agency
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The former monastery of St Barnabas near Famagusta is now the home of the St Barnabas Icon and Archaeology Museum. The museum is a lovely place to visit, set amongst the restored rooms and church of the monastery, with exhibits of finds made at local archaeological sites.

The St Barnabas Icons, North Cyprus

The former church houses the collections of religious icons, the oldest of which is around 1,000 years old. The modern icons were painted by one of the three monk brothers who restored the monastery but who left in 1976. The best icon is judged to be that of Herod’s Banquet, painted in 1858, which shows John the Baptist being beheaded. One series of four paintings tells the story of the discovery of the tomb of St Barnabas, a discovery that ensures that the Church of Cyprus today is not only-self governing, but ranked fifth in the Orthodox church hierarchy!

St Barnabas Monastery Video
St Barnabas Monastery Video
video by: TRNC Ministry of Tourism
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The rooms around the pretty courtyard contain pottery found at the Bronze Age site of Enkomi, and much if it is in remarkably good condition.  The rooms also display rare Roman glassware and gold jewellery. There is some confusion as to whether some of the exhibits have "‘arrived" here at the museum from the former Famagusta Archaeological Museum, which lies in the inaccessible part of the UN buffer zone. If so, it is probably good news, since it keeps the treasures on display.

The Stolen Icons of the St Barnabas Icon and Archaeology Museum, North Cyprus

Sadly, the collection of icons at the St Barnabas Icon and Archaeology Museum is not what is used to be. In 1982, 35 icons were stolen from the museum, with a further robbery in 1997. The icons hanging to day are replacements, and not as good quality as the originals.

For a cool drink or a rest after exploring the ruins at Salamis and the Monastery of St Barnabas, you can relax at the small café in the monastery gardens, under shady citrus trees.