Cyprus, Nicosia

St. Mamas Church: how to get to the closed church in Northern Cyprus?

Updated: 1 month ago
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In Northern Cyprus, there is an unusual temple that does not function as a church but houses an impressive collection of icons.

Церковь св. Мамаса

Saint Mamas Church

The church is located in Guzelyurt, and this temple was not converted into a mosque, as was done with some churches in Famagusta. The church furnishings were not looted, nor was the temple opened as a functioning church. Now it is, albeit chaotic, an icon museum. The place is revered by believers — it is the third most important place of worship for Greek Orthodox Christians in Cyprus after the Tomb of Saint Barnabas in Famagusta and the Monastery of Apostle Andrew on the Karpas Peninsula. It is believed that the relics of Saint Mamas are buried in a sarcophagus walled up in the monastery.

Who is Saint Mamas?

In Cyprus, Mamas is known as a poor hermit who lived in a cave near the town of Morphou. According to local legend, he lived very poorly, and when the authorities tried to tax him, he evaded them. Soldiers were sent to capture him, but on the way back to the city, Mamas saw a lion attacking a lamb. He escaped from the soldiers, saved the lamb, jumped on the lion's back, and rode it into the city. Because of his bravery, he was exempted from taxes.

How to Get to Saint Mamas Church

You can't simply walk into the church — it is locked. To get inside, you need to visit the neighboring Archaeological Museum of Guzelyurt and buy a ticket there. After viewing the exhibition, the museum attendant — if you remind them — will accompany you to the church, unlock the door, and wait while you examine the interior (which is quite modest) and the collection of old icons.

Frequently Asked Questions

What other Christian churches are there in Northern Cyprus?

Although the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is considered a Muslim country, there are also Christian churches here, and they are functioning. We have an entire collection of Christian churches in Northern Cyprus.

Are there other icon museums in Northern Cyprus?

Yes, and they are also in monasteries. For example, the Icon Museum in the Monastery of Barnabas, which houses a stunning collection of Cypriot artifacts dating back to the 7th century BC.

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Церковь св. Мамаса на карте (St. Mamas Church)
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