Panagia Heights

Published 8th of December, 2020

A few weeks ago we told you about a nice drive we had up to the top of the plateau above Pano Panagia. In this article, we show you what we found when we got there.

This Was Where We Left You


I have to admit, I love this photograph. I got prickled a lot getting into location, but it was worth it. So I have no qualms in using it in two different blogs. If you recall from our previous article, we had taken a wrong turn and ended up driving through the vineyards above Panagia to get here. Well, we didn't stop here. Ok, we did stop here, and turned round, but then we headed inland to a little church.

Church of the Prophet Elias


Actually, looking back at the previous blog, this was where we left you, at the Church of the Prophet Elias. It has a bit of history to it. The following text appears on a sign outside:



The country church is dedicated to the Prophet Ilias, one of the most important prophets in the Old Testament. Although Ilias is frequently referred to in the Bible, he himself left no written texts. Elias is the Greek rendering of the Hebrew name Elijah. Elijah is often called 'the Tishbite' because his father, Sobach, was from Tishbe, a village of Gilead (Galaad). He was active during the reign of King Ahab in the 9th - 10th Century BC; he was succeed by one of his students Elisei (Elisha). The Orthodox Church commemorates him on July 20, the day believed to mark his fiery ascent to heaven.

In his 2001 book, Greek Religious Feasts and Customs, Georgios A. Megas, folklorist, professor and scholar, writes that the prophet "... is regards as the ephor of rain and thunders,. That is why he is called upon by the Cypriots, when they are threshing, 'to send them his wind' offering up at the same time as a sacrifice 'a panful' which is placed on a high spot, until the wind starts blowing".

A Few Pews


Prophet Ilias is almost exclusively worshipped on hilltops, and in the above-mentioned book Megas relates the Greek tradition that explains this. According to the Greek story, Ilias was a sailor; but he was a sailor who had suffered much at sea, had almost drown, and was tired of traveling. So he decided to live where the people had no knowledge of the sea or ships. He landed his boat, took his oar and began walking, asking all those he met to name the object that he was carrying. As long as the people andwered that it was an oar, he continued walking, going higher and higher until he reached the top of the mountain. When he asked the people there the same question, they replied that he was holding a piece of wood. Realising that they had never seen an oar, and so must know nothing of the sea, he decided to stay with them on the top of the hill.

In Cyprus, most country churches dedicated to Prophet Ilias are built atop hills and mountains. This is the case for the Prophet Ilias church in Vouni, which is built on a hilltop.

And then some...

Vines Everywhere


That's enough of the church, let's follow the track towards Panagia. There is a roof in the distance, that turns out to be a viewpoint. Before we set off though, let's have a look at the other sign at the church.

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