Stavrovouni Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery which stands on the top of Stavrovouni hill in Larnaca District; it is sometimes simply known as Stavrovouni. The monastery is one of the only places where one can see a piece of the Holy Cross. The monastery was founded by St. Helena, the mother of Constantine I the Great, in the 4th century. Helena discovered the three crosses on which Jesus and the two thieves had been crucified. She excavated them to take to Constantinople, but left one of these crosses in Cyprus due to a shipwreck. The Holy Cross was transferred by a miracle to the peak of a hill overnight and a strong light emanated from that peak. Helena decided to leave a piece there, and built a small chapel over it. Other relics left behind by Helena include the Cross of the Good Thief and a nail.
- Stavrovouni, as the name indicates, is dedicated to the Holy Cross. It is derived from two Greek words; 'stavros' for cross and 'vouno' for mountain, so that it basically means ‘the mountain of the Cross’. VIP Tours conduct a religious tour to this site.
- St. Helena was the mother of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine I The Great.
- Women are not allowed to enter the main part of the monastery but may visit the chapel on the top of the hill. They are also allowed to visit the Metochi Agia Varvara (small chapels) at the foot of the hill only on Sundays. Many excursions in Cyprus take place on Sundays.
- After several unsuccessful attempts to get the Holy Cross out of that mountain, Helena decided to leave a piece there. This decision made that site one of the places to see in tours in Cyprus.
- In its long history, Stavrovouni went through times of great poverty and hardship caused by the most varied invasions by foreigners on the island. The Holy Cross is no longer there and nobody knows what has happened to it.
- In 1598, the Bohemian nobleman Krystof Harant noted : “Nobody knows what the Turks have done with the Holy Cross.”
- The walls, the church, the iconostasis and monks' cells in Stavrovouni were almost completely destroyed during a great fire in 1888. The only relic preserved down to the present is a silver cross in which a minute piece of the holy cross is inserted, the only major reliquary still kept in Stavrovouni. That is enough to make it a site to visit in a tour of Cyprus.