For map see entry on HGC site << Previous Entry Next Entry >>

In the southern Troodos Mountains at Kouka (Limassol district), on the west slopes of the upper Koures valley opposite Trimikline [Papacostas (1999a) 6.C.110] at 750m a.s.l. A relic of the True Cross kept in the church is mentioned by Machairas in the 15th century [Dawkins (1932) 1.38]. The settlement of Kouka is mentioned in 14th and 15th-century sources [Richard (1962) 83, 85, 91, 100, Richard (1983) 210; Darrouzès (1951) 49; Kechagioglou (1997) 132; Mas Latrie (1886) 418], while a monastery on the site is attested in the late Ottoman period [Kyprianos (1788) 393; Kyriazes (1950) 147]. The ruins of monastic buildings around the church, reported in the early 20th century, no longer survive [Gunnis (1936) 284], and it is possible that the monastery was founded in the Ottoman period, following the decline of the settlement.

Description: The much altered domed cruciform structure with three-sided apse was built in rubble masonry. All blind arches / niches along the interior cross arm walls must have originally been semi-circular, although some of them were rebuilt with pointed arches. A northeast compartment / chapel presumably housed the cross relic and may represent an addition to the original structure [MKE 12, 315-16; Stylianou (1985) 235]. A 12th-century iron cross with silver revetment (Crucifixion with Virgin and John in niello medallions) from the church is now kept in the Cyprus Medieval Museum (Limassol castle) [Charles-Gaffiot (1991) 106 and 187, no. 49; Byzantine Cyprus 128, no. 58]. There is no evidence that the cross was made in Cyprus, although it has been suggested that ‘it shows the continuous tradition of Cypriot silversmiths’ craftsmanship’ [Papageorgiou (1997) 101].

Dating: A possible 12th century date is suggested by the architecture and the style of the earliest fresco decoration (Archangel Michael) in the north blind arch of the west cross arm [MKE 12, 315-16; Stylianou (1985) 235; ascribed to the Ottoman period in Soteriou (1931a) 487].

Later additions / alterations: The west cross arm was extended with an additional bay after the demolition of the original west wall. The blind arches in the north cross arm, the doorways on the cross arm façades and the apse window were altered. Buttresses were added to the south cross arm, while the dome was replaced by a low ribbed vault at an unrecorded (late medieval?) date [certainly before the 20th century, despite both Jeffery and Gunnis speaking of a dome over the crossing: Jeffery (1918) 361; Gunnis (1936) 284]. The interior was at least partly redecorated with frescoes in the 14th / 15th century

Modern repairs: The damage caused by the earthquake of 1953 was repaired [ARDA 1957, 11], and the south arm walls and frescoes were consolidated [ARDA 1975, 16].

Views: Soteriou (1935) pl. 49-50.

Plan / section: Jeffery (1915/16) 123 [omitting the blind arches in the west cross arm and buttresses of the south cross arm].