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From the Natural and the Religious Geography to the Monastery Landscapes: Vasili Barskij

Abstract

The Kiev-born traveller and pilgrim Vasily Barski visited Cyprus twice during his peregrinations in the Middle East in the first half of the 18th century. He travelled through a large part of the island, stopping at major and minor monasteries and recording the experiences of his journeying and visits. A devoted Orthodox Christian and pilgrim, Barski was interested in knowing as many places and ways of life as possible (he managed to travel throughout most of Central Europe, Poland, Italy, the Aegean Islands, Egypt, and the Eastern Mediterranean). His writings make frequent reference to Russo-Turkish relations which, for the most part, determined itineraries at the time. His work, and especially the part that refers to his two visits to Cyprus, faithfully traces the threads of tradition, but without cutting itself off from the temporal and spatial framework of that era of tensions between the Ottoman Empire and Russia, or from that of tensions
between the Orthodox patriarchates and the action of Unism.
Out of his travel notes and his drawings of panoramic views of various Cypriot monasteries there emerges a so-called cultural geographer of his time, who captures the concept of place as the result of the fusion of space and life experience, a result which calls upon the traveller/pilgrim himself to assume further action. Barski's writing constitutes an eloquent example of narrative discourse which, as Paul Ricoeur would say, builds the rationale for the correlation between place and time by defining in this way the organization and the meaning of life of the narrator himself.

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