Your day begins with a serene visit to the historic Kykkos Monastery, where the ornate decorations and tranquil atmosphere offer a peek into Cyprus's rich ecclesiastical tradition. From there, you journey to the mountain tomb of Makarios III, a place marked by solemnity and historical significance, boasting panoramic views of the island. The next leg of your trip involves traversing the medieval Venetian bridges over the Diorios River, where the impressive architecture harkens back to an era of grandeur and rich cultural exchange. As the sun sets, you find yourself in the charming village of Lofou, walking down its cobblestone streets, surrounded by traditional stone houses that seem to whisper tales from the past. Here in Lofou, you end the day with a sense of fulfilment, as if you've truly experienced the very heart and soul of Cyprus.
Kokkini Viewpoint is at an elevation of approximately 1300 meters and looks out over Marathassa Valley. You can expect some remarkable views.
The Marathassa Valley is in the Troodos mountain range, the most extensive mountain range in Cyprus. This region is known for its picturesque landscapes, charming villages, vineyards, orchards, and monasteries. Depending on the time of year, you could see different things.
In winter, the Troodos mountains can be snow-capped, starkly contrasting the typically Mediterranean climate of Cyprus. During spring, the valley would be lush and green, with blooming wildflowers. Summer might reveal terraced vineyards and fruit trees, and in autumn, you'd see a blend of colours as the leaves change.
From such a high vantage point, you might also catch sight of various species of birds and other wildlife native to the area. If you're lucky and the day is clear, you might even see to the coast.
The route from Pedoulas to Kykkos Monastery is a well-known journey on the island of Cyprus. This route goes through the Troodos Mountains, offering scenic views of pine forests, vineyards, and traditional villages.
This is the place where The Diarizos River starts. It flows to the Paphos district of Cyprus. It's the fourth longest river on the island, approximately 42 kilometres long, originating in the Troodos Mountains and flowing into the Mediterranean Sea near Paphos. The name "Diarizos" is believed to mean "double stream" in Greek, likely referring to how the river is formed by the convergence of two streams in the mountains.
The Kykkos Monastery parking lot in Cyprus is surrounded by several shops that sell various goods, primarily catering to tourists and pilgrims visiting the monastery. Here are some items you might typically find:
Religious Icons and Artifacts: These shops often sell religious items such as icons, crosses, candles, and incense. You can find beautifully crafted representations of saints and biblical
Local Crafts: Many shops around the monastery sell local handicrafts, ranging from pottery to woven goods, lacework, and embroidery. These items are often handcrafted and reflect traditional Cypriot artistry.
Books: You might find a selection of religious and historical texts, many of which pertain to the history of the monastery, the Orthodox Christian faith, or Cyprus more broadly.
Local Food and Drink: Cyprus is known for its delicious and unique cuisine. You may find local wines, brandy, honey, olive oil, halloumi cheese, dried fruits, and other local delicacies in the shops. Some shops may also sell traditional Cypriot sweets like loukoumi (Turkish delight) and bouzoukis (a sweet made from grapes and nuts).
Souvenirs: As with many tourist destinations, you'll likely find a wide range of souvenirs such as postcards, keychains, magnets, and other memorabilia that reflect Cypriot culture and the Kykkos Monastery.
Natural Products: Given the monastery's location in the Troodos Mountains, some shops might sell natural products like herbs, essential oils, and soaps.
Keep in mind that the availability of these items can vary, and it's always best to check directly with the shops for their current offerings. Also, the monastery is an active religious site, so please remember to respect the local customs and rules when visiting.
Vasily Grigoryevich Grigorovich-Barsky (Ukrainian: Василь Григорович Григорович-Барський; January 1 (12), 1701, Kyiv, Russian Tsardom — October 7(18), 1747, Kyiv, Russian Empire) was a pilgrim, traveller, writer, and Orthodox monk. He used various pseudonyms, including Vasily Barsky, Vasily Kievsky, Vasily Kyiv-Rossiysky, Vasily Ros, Vasily Plaka, and Vasily Plaka-Albov.
He was born into a merchant family. His father, Grigory Ivanovich Grigorovich, had moved from the Podolsk town of Bar along with his father. Vasily received initial home education and, from 1708, was taught by teachers from the Kyiv Spiritual Academy. He was a student at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy from 1715 to 1723. He was the brother of the well-known Kyiv architect Ivan Grigorovich-Barsky.
In 1723, he left the Academy, citing illness as the official reason, after, according to his own words, going through "small schools even to rhetoric... and began philosophy". He was not attracted to a career in the priesthood, and he "wanted to see foreign countries". With Iustin Lenitsky, brother of Bishop Varlaam Lenitsky, he went to Lviv (Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth), where he entered a Jesuit college under the guise of a Uniate in early 1724. Still, the deception was uncovered, and he left the school, although the bishop's order cancelled the disgraceful exclusion.
In 1724, the travellers went through Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria to Italy, intending to worship the relics of Nicholas of Myra in the city of Bari, visiting Rome, Naples, Venice, Bologna, and Florence along the way.
In 1725, parting ways with Lenitsky, he set off for Mount Athos. His companion was the former archimandrite of the Tikhvin Monastery, Ruvim Gursky, a trusted person of Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich, who fled from Russia after the investigation into the son of Peter I began. Gursky died before reaching Athos.
From 1726 to 1728, he wandered through Palestine, visited Jerusalem, Jordan, was on the Dead Sea, went to Cairo, looked at the Sinai Monastery, and through Suez, Damietta, Beirut, and Tripoli reached Damascus, and then again went to Sinai and Palestine. During his journey through Lebanon in 1728, he visited the Monastery of Elijah the Prophet in Ash-Shweir. From 1729-1731, he lived in Tripoli, studying Old and New Greek language and literature, philosophy, logic, and natural sciences. During the holidays, he visited Alexandria, Cyprus, Symi, Samos, Chios, and Patmos. He saw the monastery from this side of this entrance, unlike the modern central access from the other side.
Given that Kykkos Monastery is a significant religious and cultural site, and also a popular tourist destination, it makes sense that the local police division would be responsible for maintaining peace and safety in that area. Additionally, considering the geographical diversity of the Morphou Police Division's area of responsibility, which includes both populated areas and natural resources like forests and water dams, their role must be quite complex and multifaceted.
This reflects the broader role of law enforcement in maintaining public safety, not just in populated city areas, but also in more remote and culturally significant locations. Thanks again for sharing this information about the Morphou Police Division and their connection to the Kykkos Monastery.
Kykkos Monastery, or the Holy, Royal and Stavropegic Monastery of Kykkos, is the richest and most lavish of the monasteries of Cyprus. The main entrance to the sanctuary typically features a large ornate gate that leads to the courtyard of the monastery.
As of September 2021, the Kykkos Monastery in Cyprus typically opens to visitors from early morning until late afternoon. The general hours of operation are often from around 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, but these can vary, especially during religious holidays or special events.
It's important to remember that Kykkos Monastery is an active religious site where monks live and worship, so there may be times when certain areas are restricted to visitors.
Also, please remember that this information may have changed post-2021, and it's always a good idea to check the most recent data from a reliable source before planning your visit. Etiquette at religious sites often requires a modest dress, and visitors are generally expected to be quiet and respectful.
The Kykkos Monastery, like many monastic complexes, is designed around a central courtyard, a common feature in Mediterranean architecture that provides a sense of community, facilitates a communal way of life, and offers a peaceful open space for reflection.
Cyprus has a long history of monasticism, which stretches back to the early years of Christianity. The tradition of monastic life on the island is believed to have started in the 4th century, around the time when Cyprus was part of the Roman Empire and Christianity was beginning to spread across the Mediterranean.
Early Monasticism (4th-7th Centuries): Early Cypriot monasticism was influenced by the Egyptian and Syrian traditions. It initially took the form of hermits or anchorites living in isolated caves or in the wilderness, dedicating themselves to prayer and asceticism. Over time, these solitary practitioners began to gather into loose communities, forming the earliest monastic settlements.
Middle Byzantine Period (8th-12th Centuries): In the Middle Byzantine Period, the focus shifted towards coenobitic (communal) monasticism, and many of the island's important monasteries, such as the Stavrovouni Monastery and the Monastery of Saint Heracleidius, were established. This was a period of significant growth and consolidation for the monastic community in Cyprus.
Lusignan and Venetian Periods (12th-16th Centuries): During the Lusignan and Venetian periods, Western monastic orders such as the Benedictines, Franciscans, and Augustinians established their presence on the island. Some of the local Orthodox monasteries also came under the influence of these Western monastic traditions during this time.
Ottoman Period (16th-19th Centuries): The Ottoman conquest of Cyprus in 1571 brought significant changes. Although the Orthodox Church was generally allowed to operate under Ottoman rule, the monasteries faced periods of decline due to heavy taxation and other pressures. Despite these challenges, some monasteries like Kykkos and Machairas managed to maintain their operations and even flourish.
British Period to Modern Times (19th Century to Present): During the British administration (1878-1960), there was a revival of monastic life on the island. Many monasteries were restored, and new ones were founded. Today, the monasteries of Cyprus continue to play a significant role in the religious and cultural life of the island, attracting both local worshippers and international visitors. They are centers of Orthodox spirituality, repositories of art and culture, and symbols of the island's rich and complex history.
Surrounding this courtyard are various buildings that make up the functional aspects of the monastery. These are typically made of local stone, reflecting the traditional architectural styles of Cyprus, and often include red-tiled roofs.
Administrative Offices: These are the operational heart of the monastery where the administrative tasks related to the management of the monastery are performed. This could include coordinating with the Cyprus Orthodox Church, managing donations, organizing events and pilgrimages, maintaining the monastery's historical archives, and more.
Monk Quarters: These are the living areas for the monks who reside in the monastery. Monks' cells are typically simple and austere, reflecting their vows of poverty and their focus on spiritual matters. They often consist of a small room with a bed, a desk, and a place for personal prayer.
Other Facilities: Depending on the size and resources of the monastery, other facilities might include a refectory (dining hall) where monks take their meals in common, kitchens for meal preparation, libraries for study and preservation of religious texts, workshops for making religious items or maintaining the monastery, and guest rooms for visiting clergy or pilgrims. Some monasteries also have medical facilities to care for the monks and the local community.
Church or Chapel: Most courtyards would have direct access to the monastery's church or chapel, which is the spiritual center of the monastic community. In Kykkos Monastery, the main church is beautifully decorated with frescoes, mosaics, and contains the famous icon of the Virgin Mary.
Monasteries have traditionally been designed to be self-sufficient communities, and a reliable water supply is a crucial part of this. Many monasteries, particularly those in arid or semi-arid regions or those located on hilltops away from reliable water sources, have historically included some form of water collection and storage system in their design.
One common feature is the cistern, a large tank designed to store water. Cisterns have been used in many parts of the world since ancient times, and they were incorporated into many monastery designs throughout history. The cistern would typically collect rainwater, which could be used for various purposes such as drinking, cooking, washing, irrigation, and even for operating some machinery.
The design of the cistern would often reflect the local climate and resources. They were sometimes built underground to keep the water cool and prevent evaporation. In other cases, they might have been covered or incorporated into the monastery's architecture differently. In addition to cisterns, some monasteries had wells or were located near springs or streams to ensure a consistent water supply.
The Kykkos Monastery, like many monastic complexes, would have required a reliable water source for its religious and communal functions.
In the cave of Mount Kikkos, there lived an old hermit named Isaiah. One day, the Byzantine governor of Cyprus, Manuel Voutomites, who spent the summer in the village of Marathasa, went hunting in the forest. He lost his way and struggled to find his way back home. Eventually, he stumbled upon Isaiah by chance. The governor asked him for directions, but the recluse, who had withdrawn from the world, remained silent. Enraged by this behaviour, Manuel Voutomites struck Isaiah.
Sometime later, the governor returned to Nicosia and unexpectedly fell ill with an incurable disease known as "shatika," a form of paralysis. In unbearable pain, he remembered how inhumanely he had treated the hermit and began praying to God for healing, seeking forgiveness from Isaiah. His prayers were answered, and he was healed. Soon, God appeared to the hermit and told him that everything that had happened to the governor was part of divine will. God commanded Isaiah to ask Manuel Voutomites to bring him the icon of the Virgin Mary, painted by the Apostle Luke in Cyprus, which was kept in the imperial palace in Constantinople.
Upon hearing this, Manuel Voutomites was deeply saddened as he considered it impossible. Isaiah explained to him that it was the divine will and suggested they travel to Constantinople. Much time passed after they arrived in the capital, but the governor could not find a convenient moment to present himself before the emperor and request the icon. Not wanting to torment Isaiah any longer, he sent him back to Cyprus with other heroes and ceremonial regalia, assuring him that he would meet the emperor soon.
Shortly after, the emperor's daughter fell ill with the disease that had afflicted Manuel Voutomites. Taking advantage of this situation, the governor immediately visited Emperor Alexios I Komnenos. He told him about the hermit Isaiah and what had happened to him, assuring him that his daughter would be healed instantly if he agreed to send the icon to Cyprus. The emperor settled in sorrow, and his daughter soon recovered.
However, the emperor, reluctant to part with the icon, summoned the empire's finest artists to create a replica to send it to Cyprus. During the night, the Virgin Mary appeared in his dream and informed him that she wished to see the original icon on Cyprus while the copies should remain with him. The next day, the ship carrying the hero of the Virgin Mary set sail for Cyprus, where Isaiah awaited its arrival. During the procession from the coast to the Troodos Mountains, the trees bent their trunks and branches to greet and revere the holy icon. Soon after the icon was transferred to the island, the emperor ordered the construction of a church and monastery in the mountains to house it.
Today, the Monastery of Kikkos stands as a revered place of worship and pilgrimage, known as one of the most important holy sites in Cyprus. It houses not only the sacred icon but also other valuable relics and artefacts associated with the religious and historical importance of the island.
Over time, the Monastery of Kikkos has become a centre of spiritual life and cultural heritage in Cyprus. It continues to attract pilgrims and visitors worldwide who seek to pay their respects to the icon and seek blessings.
After a fire in 1365, the monastery was rebuilt, this time using wood and stone. In 1541, the monastery burned down again and was reconstructed entirely from stone. At that time, the church had a single nave, but in 1745, it was expanded and became a three-aisled church. The central aisle is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Hence, the monastery celebrates its religious festivals on September 8th (the Nativity of the Virgin Mary) and August 15th (the Assumption of the Virgin Mary). The right aisle is dedicated to All Saints, and the left is dedicated to the Archangels Michael and Gabriel.
The bell tower was constructed much later than the monastery itself, in 1882, as during the period of the Ottoman Empire, bell ringing was prohibited for Christians. The bell tower houses six bells, with the most significant one being of Russian origin, weighing 1,280 kg.
In 1926, the future Archbishop Makarios III, who later became the first President of Cyprus, began his ecclesiastical career at the Kikkos Monastery. After his death, he was also buried 2 km away from the monastery, and his tomb has become a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims.
In 1986, the Research Center of the Kikkos Monastery was established, which houses an archive and a rich library. In 1995, the Museum of the Holy Monastery of Kikkos was opened, following the decision of the abbot Nikiforos Kikkotis.
On June 10, 2012, the monastery was visited by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia during his visit to the Church of Cyprus.
As of 2017, the monastery is home to 15 inhabitants. The symbol of the monastery is the bee, representing diligence, persistence, vigilance, and purity.
The buildings of the monastic complex date from various epochs. At the centre is the temple. Surrounding it are multiple structures, such as the abbot's house, the cathedral room, the monks' cells, a library, a museum, reception rooms, etc. At the centre is a large paved courtyard with a well. Initially, the temple and the other monastery buildings were built of wood, a material this area does not lack, as the summit of Kikkos Mountain is not far from the Paphos forest.
Both the mosaics and frescoes that adorn the monastery were created in 1991-1993 by Cypriot icon painters, the Kepola brothers, and other masters from Greece and Romania.
Located in the local row of the monastery cathedral's iconostasis is the Kikkos icon of the Mother of God, traditionally believed to have been painted by the Apostle Luke. For centuries, residents have venerated this icon, attributing miracles on the island to its presence. For instance, the region's deliverance from locusts in 1668 is considered one of the miracles of this icon. The icon has also served as a model for many other depictions of the Virgin Mary in the Orthodox world. In 1795, it was adorned with a new silver Riza. The Kikkos icon has a unique feature: at least since the 16th century, it has been half-covered by a gold-embroidered veil so that the faces of the Mother of God and the Divine Infant cannot be seen.
The tomb of Makarios III, also known as the Throni of Makarios III, is located in the mountainous region of the Republic of Cyprus, near the Kykkos Monastery.
Makarios III, born Michail Christodoulou Mouskos, served as the Archbishop and Primate of the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Cyprus (1950–1977) and the first President of the Republic of Cyprus (1960–1977). He is widely regarded as a national hero in Cyprus.
His tomb is situated at the top of Throni Hill, about 3 kilometres west of Kykkos Monastery, offering impressive views of the surrounding region. The site is frequently visited by both locals and tourists who come to pay their respects to the late leader. The tomb is a simple structure, reflecting the modesty and humility that characterised Makarios III's leadership style.
The village of Mylikouri is situated within the Troodos mountain range in Cyprus. The Troodos Mountains are the largest mountain range in Cyprus and are well known for their beautiful landscapes, traditional villages, and numerous monasteries and churches.
Nearby the tomb is a tall bronze statue of Makarios III, overlooking the beautiful and scenic landscapes of the region. The area around the grave and the figure is peaceful, quiet, and well-kept, making it a serene place of remembrance and reflection.
Morphou Bay, also known as Güzelyurt Bay, is a part of the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Cyprus. The city of Morphou (Güzelyurt in Turkish), known for its vast citrus groves, is situated on the bay's eastern edge.
Morphou Bay is surrounded by a fertile plain famous for producing many of Cyprus's citrus fruits. The region is also known for its beautiful beaches and clear blue waters, making it a destination for locals and tourists alike.
Since the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the area around Morphou Bay, including the city of Morphou, has been under the control of the de facto state of Northern Cyprus, which is recognised only by Turkey.
As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, there have been ongoing political discussions about the future status of Morphou as part of the broader Cyprus dispute, with the Greek Cypriot side asserting their claim over the city its surrounding region. Please consult the most recent sources for updates on the situation.
From the resting place of Makarios III, the third Archbishop of Cyprus, one can witness the breathtaking views of Tripylos and the serene beauty of the Cedar Valley.
Tripylos, standing tall at 1,409 meters (or 4,623 feet) above sea level, is a notable mountain located in Cyprus. Its prominence reaches up to 495 meters (or 1,624 feet), making it a significant feature of the island's landscape. This mountain is one of the 395 peaks scattered along the renowned multi-day European long distance path, the E4. A well-marked trail leads to its summit, offering an opportunity for hiking enthusiasts to experience the beautiful natural surroundings.
Throni Mountain, located in Cyprus, holds great significance due to the tomb of Archbishop Makarios III, a prominent political and religious figure interred here in 1977. The mausoleum was constructed immediately after his death, symbolising his significant contribution to the Cypriot struggle for independence and his spiritual authority. Its architecture, minimalist yet solemn, was designed to blend harmoniously with the surrounding rugged landscape, reflecting Makarios III's deep connection with the land and the Cypriot people. The decision to bury Makarios III on Throni Mountain, overlooking the Kykkos Monastery, where he became a novice monk, was a testament to his lifelong dedication to the Orthodox Church and his love for Cyprus. From this vantage point, one can behold the majestic vista of the island, a sight Makarios III deeply cherished.
Elias Bridge, located in Cyprus, is a captivating piece of the island's rich history. While the exact origin of its name remains unclear, it is commonly believed to be named after a church dedicated to Prophet Elias, reflecting the common medieval practice of naming structures after religious figures or sites. Although some believe that the name is derived from the world oil in Greek. The bridge was built during the Venetian period, which spanned from 1489 to 1571, a time when Venetian engineers were known for their architectural prowess and innovation. Its construction aimed to facilitate transportation across the Diarizos River, enhancing trade and communication across the island. Medieval bridges in Cyprus, including Elias Bridge, are characterised by their robust stone construction, archetypal pointed arches, and often a single span, all reflective of the Gothic style popular during Venetian rule. These structures serve not just as a testament to the island's medieval past, but also as a symbol of the cultural exchange that occurred in Cyprus due to its strategic location.
The Elia Venetian Bridge, located in the southwestern corner of the Paphos Forest in Cyprus, is a magnificent stone structure that stretches over the Diarizos River. Unique among its contemporaries, this single-arch bridge is renowned for the cross carvings on rocks on both of its sides, a distinct characteristic that imparts a spiritual aspect to the structure. The name "Elia" is derived from the Greek word for the olive tree, a once abundant plant in the surrounding area, further anchoring the bridge to its natural environment. Alongside the Kelefos and Roudia Venetian bridges, the Elia Bridge is a vital component of the Venetian Bridges Nature Trail. This route guides visitors through a journey of historical and natural beauty. This trio of bridges, each with its own story and charm, offers a unique glimpse into the Venetian era of Cyprus, where architectural prowess met with the island's lush landscapes to create enduring monuments to the past.
The Tzelefos Parking is a dedicated parking area near the Tzelefos Bridge, offering visitors a convenient place to leave their vehicles while exploring the surrounding natural and historical attractions. It provides easy access to the bridge and the beautiful Paphos forest, making it an essential amenity for visitors to the region.
The Diarizos Valley, nestled in the southeastern part of the Paphos region at the western foothills of the majestic Troodos mountain range, is a Special Conservation Area that is a testament to Cyprus's remarkable biodiversity. This verdant valley, traversed by the Diarizos River, a confluence of two river veins with tributaries meandering along the west side of the mountains, forms an enchanting backdrop that is a haven for nature lovers.
This pristine region is home to an astonishing 236 endemic, protected, or other significant species of flora and fauna, a living catalogue of the region's natural wealth. Amidst this biotic treasure trove, approximately 31% of the area serves as a sanctuary for wild animals, offering them temporary refuge and fostering a thriving ecosystem teeming with life.
The Diarizos Valley is also a geological spectacle, featuring the Smoky Geoform and the Hasanbuli Geoform, two protected landscapes that cast a spell with their distinct natural features. Further enhancing the valley's geological allure are the Ziripillis, Salamios, and Aspro Pigadi rocks, each contributing their unique character to the region's diverse topography. At the northernmost part of the valley lies the "Gefiri tu Tzelefou", a medieval bridge of great historical significance and one of the island's most critical old bridges, adding a touch of human history to this natural canvas.
The reserve's flora is incredibly diverse, ranging from thermo-Mediterranean and pre-desert shrubs to various plant species. These include the Sarcopaterium spinosum phrygana, Thero-Brachypodietea pseudo-steppe with grasses and annuals, limestone rocky slopes adorned with chasmophytic vegetation, and the shadowy Acero-Cupression forests. Not to forget the serene gallery forests interspersed with Salix alba and Populus alba, their verdant canopies providing a lush, green contrast to the azure Cypriot skies. The Diarizos Valley, with its natural and historical richness, is truly a vibrant tapestry of life, a living, breathing embodiment of Cyprus's abundant natural heritage.
Tzelefos Bridge, also known as Gefiri tou Tzelefou in Greek, is a magnificent Venetian structure nestled about 440 meters above sea level in the deep forest of Paphos, Cyprus. This medieval stone bridge, the largest of its kind in Cyprus, spans the Diarizos River and is approximately 6 kilometres from the village of Agios Nikolas. Whether approached from Paphos, Troodos, or Limassol, the drive offers stunning picturesque views.
Originally known as "Vokaria," the bridge's current name "Tzelefos," meaning weak or sick, is derived from the Greek word "shell," and it is associated with an individual or incident during the bridge's construction. The structure's arch ends are constructed of river stones and are remarkably well-preserved, as is the bridge's peak, its most delicate point. A small, faintly visible cross can be found on a rock on the bridge's southern side while waiting points at both entrances suggest intense activity during the Middle Ages.
Tzelefos Bridge was crucial to the region, connecting the western villages of Milikouri, Vretsia, and Agios Ioannis with the eastern towns of Agios Nikolaos, Kaminaria, and Treis Elies. One of its most notable features is its significant height above the river and narrow width, designed to prevent the swift-flowing waters of the Varvaros River from blocking or damaging the bridge with uprooted trees and branches. The roar of the river, especially when in full spate, could be heard in the surrounding villages, where locals would hang baskets to catch eels carried by the current.
Situated within a lush forest, Tzelefos Bridge is considered one of the most magical places in Cyprus. The nearby Arminou Dam, located at the river's end, adds to the area's abundant natural beauty.
Situated close to the ancient Gefiri tu Tzelefou bridge in the heart of the Diarizos Valley is a unique eco-village that embodies a genuine return to nature. The inhabitants live in a collection of carefully positioned tents, which blend seamlessly into the surrounding landscape, creating minimal impact on the rich biodiversity of the area. Amidst a chorus of local fauna and the rustle of endemic flora, this eco-village represents an oasis of sustainability, where people live in harmony with the rhythms of the natural world around them.
The Lofou village parking in Cyprus is a spacious and well-organized public area nestled in the quaint, picturesque setting of this traditional village, providing ample space for visitors to safely park their vehicles while they explore the charming locale.
As the evening sun dips in the sky, the village's cobblestone streets are bathed in a soft, warm glow highlighting the texture and history etched into each stone. The ancient stone houses, each unique in their design, take on a golden hue, their shadowed nooks and crannies creating a captivating play of light and dark that invites exploration. The village exudes a timeless charm under the setting sun, the echoes of the day's activities winding down, offering a serene, almost magical atmosphere that leaves every visitor spellbound.
Situated in the heart of the picturesque village of Lofou in Cyprus, the Panagia Chrysolofitissa Church stands as a beacon of history and devotion. The name of the church is deeply significant; 'Panagia' is a title bestowed upon the Virgin Mary in Orthodox Christianity, meaning 'All Holy', while 'Chrysolofitissa' can be translated as 'of the Golden Hill', likely reflecting the unique landscape of Lofou.
Established during the Byzantine period, the church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, embodying her as the 'All Holy'. This devotion to Mary is a common feature in Orthodox Christianity, often signifying her role as a motherly intercessor. Throughout its history, the Panagia Chrysolofitissa Church has served as a spiritual heart for the village, a place where generations of villagers have gathered for worship, community events, and milestones.
Despite the passage of time and changes in society, the church has been meticulously maintained and preserved, retaining its original Byzantine architecture. Its prominent position in the village, coupled with its historical and religious significance, makes the Panagia Chrysolofitissa Church a living testament to Lofou's rich cultural heritage and the enduring faith of its people.
Standing near the Anefani House in the village of Lofou, you are surrounded by the timeless charm of traditional Cypriot architecture. Directly in front of you is the church's inner courtyard, a tranquil space that exudes a sense of peace and calm, framed by well-preserved stone walls and a beautifully maintained garden.
Glancing over to the Anefani House, you are struck by the rustic facade of this stone-built structure, which blends harmoniously with the surrounding landscape. A striking feature is the beautiful wooden awning that shades the entrance, a testament to the craftsmanship of past eras and a warm invitation to the home's interior.
Between you and the house runs a narrow, cobblestone street typical of the village. This charming, winding road offers a picturesque view, leading your eye through the heart of Lofou, with the rolling hills forming a scenic backdrop. Despite being unable to see inside the Anefani House, its exterior, along with its enchanting surroundings, offers a unique window into the traditional Cypriot lifestyle.
Stepping into the sun-drenched courtyard of the Anefani House, you are instantly captivated by the vivid play of light and shadow, adding a magical aura to the already beautiful space. The courtyard, paved with traditional stones worn smooth by countless footsteps, is scattered with dry leaves weathered by the rain, adding an element of rustic charm to the scene.
A central feature of the courtyard is the wrought iron gate, its bars twisted and turned by the hands of a skilled artisan. The entrance rusted slightly from the passage of time, stands as a testament to the bygone era of traditional craftsmanship. Its intricate design casts an elegant shadow on the stone-paved floor, creating a beautiful contrast of materials and textures.
The name "Anefani" is derived from the Greek words 'Ano' and 'Efani', meaning 'appeared above'. The name is said to have been inspired by the house's elevated location in the village, offering a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. This house, with its evocative name and charming architecture, truly encapsulates the spirit of traditional Cypriot culture.
Lofou, a picturesque village in the Limassol District of Cyprus, has a rich history marred by periods of decline. The abandoned and crumbling houses you now see are remnants of a time when the village was deserted, primarily due to the urban migration trend that swept across Cyprus during the mid-20th century.
Following the Second World War and Cyprus's independence in 1960, many Cypriots moved from rural areas to urban centres, seeking better job opportunities and improved quality of life. This shift resulted in many villages like Lofou being deserted as residents moved away to pursue new opportunities in cities.
During this period, Lofou, like many other villages, witnessed a rapid population decrease. The once bustling and vibrant community slowly transformed into a ghost village, with many houses left to crumble and decay over time. The absence of maintenance and the passage of time has caused these buildings to deteriorate, leaving behind a poignant reminder of the village's past.
In recent years, efforts have been made to revive and restore Lofou and other similar villages, capitalising on their cultural heritage and unique charm. Many of the old houses are being renovated, and the town is slowly regaining its life, as both locals and tourists are attracted by its preserved historical character and serene ambience. However, the dilapidated houses still stand as a stark reminder of the village's history and the impact of socio-economic changes on rural communities.
Lofou village is located 26 kilometres northwest of Limassol, in the geographical region of Krasochoria, Limassol Province, at 790 meters above sea level. The village's name derives from being built on a hill ("logos" in Greek). It was initially known as Lofos, and this name was used until the beginning of the 20th century. The change in the village's name from nominative to genitive case (from Lofos to Lofou) occurred because the genitive case was more usable in the everyday speech of farmers. The village's name eventually became feminine because it was accompanied by the word "village" (komi), which is feminine in Greek. The area of Lofou has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. The settlement of Lofou itself was likely established shortly before the start of Frankish rule, during the time of Arab raids, when coastal residents were forced to settle in mountainous areas for safety. The oldest written text mentioning Lofou comes from the period of Frankish rule. The text states that the village, along with others, was granted by King James I to his brother Janot de Lusignan, lord of Beirut, around 1392.
The population of the village reached its peak in 1946, according to the population censuses carried out in Cyprus. Subsequently, the people of the town decreased at a very intense rate. Some village residents would move to the region of Ypsonas during specific seasons to cultivate or harvest the fields they owned there. Gradually, they settled in Ypsonas, which pre-existed as a settlement.
This trend of population movement from rural to urban areas or towards coastal regions for better employment opportunities is quite common in many parts of the world. This phenomenon is often amplified in the case of small, isolated villages which might lack modern amenities or opportunities.
Originally, Lofou consisted of shepherd farms in the valley, which gradually developed into stone houses with wooden and mud or clay roofs. During Ottoman rule, Lofou was part of the 'Kaza of Koilani', and by 1832, it was solely inhabited by Greek Cypriots. The village grew in population and infrastructure, with the church construction and establishment of a primary school in 1855.
"Kaza" is a term that was used in the Ottoman Empire to denote an administrative subdivision or district that was smaller in size than a vilayet or sanjak but more significant than a nahiya. It's akin to what we call a county or district today.
"Kaza of Koilani", therefore, refers to the administrative subdivision where the town or village of Koilani was located. This subdivision existed during Ottoman rule in Cyprus, which lasted from 1571 to 1878.
The British rule transformed Lofou into a sprawling vineyard, changing the village's landscape entirely. The sight of blossoming vines amidst well-preserved terraces was truly spectacular. In addition to vine cultivation, the locals grew cereals and locust trees. However, the following decade brought severe economic and political crises.
The era of the Cyprus Republic reaffirmed these demographic shifts as permanent. The period from 1946 to 1986 was a bittersweet time for Lofou. While it suffered from abandonment, leading to a loss of vibrancy for the remaining residents, the village also retained its traditional architecture due to minimal alterations. This period of "curse and blessing" has left a legacy of fine traditional Cypriot architecture, which can be admired today.
In Mediterranean countries, including Cyprus, window shutters are a time-honoured tradition for practical and aesthetic purposes. These shutters, often painted in vibrant colours, help regulate indoor temperatures by blocking out the intense sun during the day and letting in the cool breeze at night. Moreover, they add an undeniable charm to the region's architecture, contributing to the distinct character of Mediterranean towns and villages.
In late September, the village throws a celebration to honour the harvest season, known as the Grape Fest. Here, attendees can observe locals preparing traditional grape-based treats, which are generously offered for tasting. Alongside these culinary delights, the event features traditional entertainment and a chance to sample various wines.
Lofou is presently home to about 100 full-time inhabitants, with many homes serving as vacation or weekend retreats. During bustling times like Christmas, Easter, and the summer season, the village's population can surge to as many as 1,500 residents.
Costas and his family have long cultivated a reputation for exceptional Cypriot cuisine and heartfelt hospitality at their well-known regional taverna. The interior of the taverna offers a charmingly simple, rustic appeal, featuring homely tablecloths, a cosy fireplace, and a display cabinet filled with plates that tell stories of the locale. The delightful bar adds to the allure, making it a welcoming, pleasant space. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner six days a week, with a day off on Mondays, the restaurant offers a traditional menu that includes the beloved Cypriot mezze. This array of small dishes served together creates a communal dining experience, a veritable feast for the senses. Mezze can consist of everything from dips and salads to meats and seafood and even desserts, offering a culinary journey that showcases the richness and diversity of Cypriot food.
A communal dining experience that begins with a selection of appetisers, among which the delicious Halloumi cheese stands out. This Cypriot speciality, known for its firm texture and unique ability to retain its shape when grilled or fried, offers a compelling start to the meal. As the mezze progresses, mouthwatering meat dishes are introduced. Among these, the flavorful blood sausages and succulent pork dishes are particularly noteworthy. The skewered meats, or souvlaki, are also a highlight, marinated to perfection and grilled over an open fire. Complementing these dishes is the taverna's homemade bread, fresh from the oven, perfect for sopping up the rich flavours of the mezze. To round off the meal, the taverna offers homemade wine, a testament to Cyprus's ancient winemaking tradition. The wine's distinct character and quality make it the ideal accompaniment to the mezze, enhancing the flavours and making the meal a truly immersive experience in Cypriot culture.
The establishment of the Lofou Association in 1987 marked a renewed spirit within the village. The association aims to strengthen friendships, cooperation, and mutual understanding among all Lofitians and friends of Lofou. A notable achievement is the restoration and preservation efforts for private and public buildings in the village. With the support of the Department of Urban Planning, homeowners are encouraged to restore their houses and are provided financial assistance for the same. A special zone has been created, encompassing almost the old village, where houses must be preserved or built according to specific instructions.
In the heart of the village lies a cave, which folklore suggests was the site where the earliest settlers established their homes. This cave was also utilised as a dwelling place by shepherds who tended to their flocks within the vicinity of the present-day village, seeking refuge here when the day drew to a close. In subsequent years, the cave was occupied by the Hadzirousos family, leading to its present-day moniker, "the Hadzirousos Cave". Spanning roughly 50 square meters with a height of about 1.5 meters beneath the native rock, the cave appears to have been carved out, indicating human modification.
As the sun dips below the horizon, its fading rays cast a warm, golden glow on the stone-laden streets of Lofou, transforming the village into an enchanting tableau of rich hues and long, soft shadows.
In Lofou, the refurbishment and renewal of stone houses are undertaken with great respect for preserving the architectural integrity and heritage of these traditional dwellings. The process often involves using locally sourced materials and traditional techniques, ensuring a seamless blend of the old and new while enhancing the sustainability and comfort of the homes.
The advent of modern civilization, notably during the British rule, arrived in Lofou primarily through the development of infrastructure and the introduction of modern farming methods. This was materialized in the establishment of new road networks, the implementation of advanced agricultural practices, and the arrival of amenities like electricity and running water, fundamentally transforming the rural lifestyle of the village.
The charming streets of Lofou, lined with traditional stone houses, exude a timeless appeal, transporting visitors back to an era of rustic simplicity and elegance. These narrow, winding lanes, flanked by beautifully preserved buildings, offer a sense of serenity and an intimate connection to the village's rich historical past.
The bakery and grocery store in Lofou offer a quaint, local experience, with a life-sized mannequin of a farmer welcoming visitors at the entrance. This charming feature adds a touch of authenticity, symbolising the village's agricultural heritage while tempting guests with the aroma of freshly baked goods and the promise of locally sourced produce within.
In Lofou, the passage of time is eloquently captured in the harmonious blend of old and new. Abandoned, time-worn houses bear silent witness to the village's rich history, standing side by side with newly restored buildings that echo the same traditional architecture. This juxtaposition brings a unique charm to the town, underscoring the community's respect for its past while embracing modernity.
From the viewing platform near Lofou, one can behold the vast beauty of Kouris Lake, nestled in the valley between rolling hills. Surrounding the lake, the undulating landscape is a patchwork of cultivated fields, vineyards, and natural vegetation, interspersed with clusters of cypress and olive trees, typical of the Mediterranean environment. The steep slopes of the hills, marked by rocky outcrops, add to the dramatic backdrop. This panoramic view truly captures the essence of Cyprus's countryside, characterized by a harmonious blend of nature and human activity.