The church of Profitis Elias is well worth a look especially if you need to burn off a few of those excess holiday pounds you may be piling on after visiting those great restaurants and bars that Protaras is famous for. Due to the fact that it’s perched on a rock 115 meters above the resort you will be climbing about the same number of steps (115) to get to it. Once at the top however and provided that you survive the climb the views are magnificent. In fact you can see that all the small private clinics catering for heart attack victims are actually quite close by.
Seriously though, the panoramic views are stunning and on clear days you can see right across to Famagusta. The church of Profitis Elias is named after the Prophet Elijah who featured in the old testament of the bible. Roundabout the 9th century BC he was sent by God to the sinful King of Israel called Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel (now you know where that comes from) to show them the error of their ways because they were amongst other things worshiping some false God called Baal. Unfortunately Elijah was not too warmly received and the wicked King even threatened to kill him.
So he hides out up the mountains in a cave and God sends a crow every day with food in it’s beak. There is also a nearby stream for water but due to a drought that Elijah prophesied about that eventually dries out. Driven out by hunger and thirst the prophet is offered shelter by poor widow living alone with her only son. Elijah performs a miracle with the tiny amount of food in the house and even raises her son back to life after he dies due to illness. The drought last for three years and many of the Israelites die of starvation due to the bareness of the land.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, after a period on the run Elijah returns and eventually puts this false God to the test by challenging the priest to pray for fire from above for the burning of a sacrifice. Of course it doesn’t happen, however God does send fire to consume Elijah’s offering even though it’s soaked with water and the Israelites turn back to God. Later in his life God decides to draw Elijah closer to himself without putting him through the pain of death and takes him up in a chariot of fire. (great film).
So there you go then, Profitis Elias is not just some church on a rock with amazing views it’s also a tribute to the prophet Elijah and there’s more too. Most Cypriots are named after a saint like Michael, Peter etc and even, yes you guessed it Elias. With derivatives like elianna for girls. Every year there is a “naming day” when the icon is carried outside the church so that people may pass under it to receive a blessing from the saint. It’s a time of celebration and there is a traditional market in the streets below. All in all then it’s well worth a trip up to take a look at the church of Profitis Elias in Protaras Cyprus.