Sourpmagar Monastery in Kyrenia, North Cyprus.
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Sourp Magar Monastery

Sourp Magar Monastery
photo by: Les Willis
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Sourp Magar Monastery lies in a beautiful spot in the mountain of North Cyprus, on the cliff edge and at the start of a deep ravine. While the name Sourp Magor means the Virgin Mary, this 11th century Coptic monastery is dedicated to St Makarios of Alexandria, an Egyptian hermit and whose Coptic monastery in Egypt still exists today. Sourp Magar then became an Armenian monastery in about 1425AD.

History of Sourp Magar Monastery, Northern Cyprus

During the 15th century, Sourp Magar Monastery was a popular pilgrim resting place for Armenian pilgrims on their way to and from the Holy Land. The Armenain community of Nicosia used it as a summer retreat, and the monks ran a school for orphans. Originally the monastery’s lands ran to about 3,000 acres of fruit and olives trees, as well as crops, all watered by the monastery’s own irrigation system. Despite the fact that the last monks left in the early 20th century, pilgrims continued to visit here and stay overnight, until the events of 1974 effectively sealed Sourp Magar Monastery’s fate.

Ruined Monasteries in North Cyprus

Sourp Magar Monastery
photo by: Les Willis
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Today, Sourp Magar Monastery is in ruins, but the site well worth visiting just to realise how important these mountain monasteries were in the world picture of the 15th century. It’s a slightly eerie feeling as you walk into the terraced courtyard, as nature takes over the 19th century buildings that remain, and the unguarded site has suffered somewhat at the hands of vandals.

An ideal place for picnics in North Cyprus

The ruins are also an ideal spot for a picnic on a North Cyprus holiday. Don’t join the crowds at the Alevkaya picnic site, but take the turning through the trees to the monastery ruins themselves. Chances are, you’ll have them all to yourselves out of season, and share with only a few either at peak times. There are few picnic places in North Cyprus where you can relax in the peace and cool of the Kyrenia mountains, see dramatic scenery and atmospheric ruins, and still see the sea!