Hidden away in the pine forests and villages of the Troodos mountains are Cyprus’ painted churches. Ten of these churches have been put on the UNESCO World Heritage List for their colourful frescoes on walls and apses and their unique architecture of pitched timber roofs. These are:
- Metamorphosi tou Sotiros , Palaichori
- Stavros tou Agiasmati, Platanistasa
- Timios Stavros, Pelendri
- Panagia tou Araka , Lagoudera
- Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis, Kakopetria
- Panagia Pothidou, Galata
- Panagia Asinou, Nikitari
- Agios Ioannis Lambadistis, Kalopanagiotis
- Panagia tou Moutoulla, Moutoulla
- Archangelos Michail, Pedoula
Cyprus being part of the Byzantine Empire, art and architecture flourished, especially in the 12th century, considered to be the Golden Age of Byzantine painting in Cyprus escaped the iconoclastic decrees of the 8th century and much of its Byzantine art survived here. Some of the earliest wall paintings can be seen in the Church of Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis near Kakopetria village and in the church of Asinou in Nikitari village. Important later work can be found in the church of Panagia tou Araka at Lagoudera and in the church of Timios Stavros at Pelendri.
Examples from the last phase of Byzantine painting, that of the Paleologian Renaissance , decorate the church of Timios Stavros at Pelendri. Influences from the art of Crusaders later still can be seen in the wall paintings of the church of Panagia at Moutoullas.
The architecture is characterized by its simplicity and small dimensions. Styles used in conjunction with the vaulted basilicas include the cruciform, the cross in square, the cross in square, the single-aisled church with arched recesses in the sidewalls and the octagonal domed style. The steep-pitched wooden roofed churches covered with flat hooked tiles are found only in churches of the Troodos mountain range.
Late in the 15th and during the 16th century the Cypriot school of painting came into being, a combination of the Byzantine tradition brought to the island by refuges in the wake of the fall of Constantinople in Late in the Italian Renaissance as a result of the Venetian occupation, introduced also by Cypriots who had studied in Italy. The most important examples are those in the churches of tou Agiasmati, Archangelos at Pedoulas, the Latin Chapel in Agios Ioannis Lambadistis at Kalopanagiotis and Panagia Podithou at Galata.