Profitis Ilias is a treasured Greek Orthodox church on a rocky outcrop some fifteen minutes from the centre of Protaras. Its magnetic setting and stunning architectural features lure tourists to climb over 150 stone steps to reach its doors. It’s a tiresome walk, but well worth it, as the rewards are not only of religious nature. The views of Protaras from Profitis Ilias can only be described in superlative terms. The panoramic views stretch from Cape Greco all the way to Kapparis, and even to Famagusta on a clear day.
On the way to the church of Profitis Ilias, there are trees full of colourful ribbons. Each ribbon represents the memory of someone’s loved one, a wish, or a prayer, depending on the beliefs of the person who tied them onto the branch of the tree. There’s also a metal structure outside the church covered in ribbons with the same signification.
The church that stands at more than 100 meters above Protaras today was erected in 1984 using stone from the region. It is a Byzantine-style construction and a replica of a former temple that stood here as early as the 14th century.
It is dedicated to St. Elijah, or Elias, a prophet who lived in the 9th century BC. On the feast of St. Elijah on July 20th every year, the church attracts hundreds of devout Greek Orthodox pilgrims and a religious service is held to honour the saint.
Inside, the church is decorated with colourful murals depicting Orthodox saints. The altar is adorned by iconic representations of St. Elijah, Madonna with the infant Jesus, Christ Pantocrator, and other biblical scenes.
The church never closes its doors and it is floodlit at night. It’s an impressive sight from the distance, but also up close – many travellers prefer to see it after dark to take in the starry-eyed views of Protaras with hundreds of shimmering lights flickering in the distance.
The romantic setting of the church makes this site particularly suitable for weddings and wedding photography too.