In Cyprus there are many churches tucked away in quiet village streets, standing proud in central squares and nestled in the green forests of the island. In fact, some churches are so well hidden, that even most locals don’t know about them, like the Ayioi Saranta Cave Church which is undoubtedly one of the most well hidden churches on the island. This cave chapel which only some intrepid travellers manage to find, is located in a wild and rugged, yet so idyllic setting in Protaras near the Church of Profitis Elias.
Some stairs lead to bright blue door to the whitewashed stone chapel. Behind the white wall and blue door is a natural cave where almost everything has been left untouched. In crevices in the stone, icons have been installed for worshippers. The simplicity of this church and the fact that it is probably the same today as it was a thousand years ago is perhaps what attracts visitors the most about it.
It is officially unknown when this brilliant church was first built and what it was officially named. It is believed that the word ‘Saranta’ which means ‘40’ in Greek is derived from forty stalagmites on the ceiling of the cave, linked to the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste.
How to get to this remote spot?
As you’re travelling from Ayia Napa to Protaras, just after the turning for the Grecian Park Hotel (which is to your right), there is a sign to your left for the ‘Moonshine Ranch’. Turn left, pass the ranch, and continue on. After about 500 metres, you’ll soon be on a dirt road – this, however, is where it gets a little tricky as the church is not signposted. Keep on the left at most forks in the road and head towards the hills rather than the sea and the church will appear before you.