Heidi Trautmann

History forgotten – The Abbey of the ancient Church of Sinai


By Heidi Trautmann


When you walk up the hills above Karsiaka - or by its old name Vasilia – towards a big ruin you can hardly make out from down below – …over hill, over dale, through bush, through brier, over park, over pale, through flood, through fire….when you are a good walker or you come by mountain bike should you have joined the friends of bikers springing up everywhere, or even by 4wheel drive very slowly though, you eventually arrive on a platform with old olive trees and herds of sheep and goats going in and out of an old enormous stone complex, obviously an old religious site. 

It is one of the annex monasteries of the ancient Church of Sinai, an autonomous Church with the main monastery and church ‘St. Catherine’ at the feet of Mount Sinai and others in annexed monasteries in Palestine, Crete, Istanbul/Constantinople, Egypt, Syria. It is still the property of this church but deserted a long time ago, nobody really knows anything about it; it is noted that the place was already found in ruins at times of Lord Kitchener in 1892 when he did a survey of Cyprus.

It was a birthday, I remember, we were celebrating in the shadow of this complex with animals around us, at the edge of the plateau overlooking the coast and the wide expanse of the sea far beyond our feet, just sitting there and feeling the presence of history long forgotten. 

The Church of Sinai was founded in the heart of the Sinai peninsula, just there where Moses was said to have received the plates with the ten commandments to control his people; today there are not more than a handful of old monks residing in Sinai at the Catherine Monastery and nobody knows what made the monks leave the place in Cyprus. There is a fountain built in the courtyard centre and it seems to be of an earlier date, perhaps as a watering place for shepherds and their animals.

Doves and sparrows have taken over the place and I am sure all kinds of other creatures are having their home here now.  The inner courtyard is overgrown with macchia and thistles but it still shows the magnitude of this religious site and when you look hard, was that a monk I saw passing?  I was comparing the fortifications on the outside of the complex and found them similar to those on a photo I discovered in the internet, a photo of the St.Catherine Monastery.

A very special place to celebrate one’s birthday, isn’t it?





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