Places to visit in Ларнака, Pano Lefkara, Dromolaxia

A Day's Guide: Discovering Larnaca and Lefkara of May 7, 2024


This guide will introduce us to Larnaca and Lefkara, a seaside city and mountain village revealing Cyprus's essence. Larnaca is an ancient city with a rich history of Greeks and Turks, where the Church of Saint Lazarus—one of the most important sanctuaries of the Orthodox world—coexists with the Mosque of Umm Haram, the fourth most significant mosque in the Muslim world.

We will stroll through the streets of Larnaca, admire the murals, and experience the charm of this Mediterranean city undergoing renewal.

Next, we will visit perhaps the most famous village in Cyprus—Lefkara, renowned for its unique embroidery and silver craftsmanship traditions, and the church that houses a relic of the True Cross on which Jesus was crucified. Beyond these significant historical sites and events, you will be captivated by the charm of Cyprus, its peaceful nooks, enduring traditions, and serene atmosphere.

Cyprus is embodied in its mountain villages, where its heart and soul reside.

Languages: EN, RU
Author & Co-authors
Evgeny Praisman (author)
Здравствуйте! Меня зовут Женя, я путешественник и гид. Здесь я публикую свои путешествия и путеводители по городам и странам. Вы можете воспользоваться ими, как готовыми путеводителями, так и ресурсом для создания собственных маршрутов. Некоторые находятся в свободном доступе, некоторые открываются по промо коду. Чтобы получить промо код напишите мне сообщение на телефон +972 537907561 или на и я с радостью вам помогу! Иначе, зачем я всё это делаю?
71.18 km
7h 26 m
Places with media
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Kamares Aqueduct in Larnaca, also known as the Bekir Pasha Aqueduct, is a historical structure built in 1747. This aqueduct was commissioned by Ottoman governor Bekir Pasha to provide water to Larnaca from a source about ten kilometers away. It consists of a series of elegant stone arches that stretch across the landscape, and it remained in use until the 20th century. Today, the Kamares Aqueduct is a significant architectural and historical landmark, showcasing Ottoman engineering and contributing to the cultural heritage of Cyprus.

A small section of the Kamares Aqueduct is visible where it spans a narrow valley between two hills. The large aqueduct with its arches carries water over the marshy valley, and here it simply connects the higher parts of the hills.

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Hala Sultan Tekke Mosque is open from 09:00 to 17:00 from September to March, and from 07:30 to 19:30 from April to August. Entry is free, but visitors must dress modestly, with long sleeves and long trousers or dresses for both men and women. The mosque is regarded as the fourth most sacred site in Islam, following Mecca, Muhammad's tomb in Medina, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, and is the primary holy site for Muslims in Cyprus.

According to legend, Umm Haram was the wife of one of the closest followers of Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. She was a noblewoman at Muhammad's court, with two sons from two marriages, the younger named Muhammad. Her nephew served as the Prophet's secretary from the age of eight. Muslim tradition states that Allah appeared to the Prophet in a dream while he stayed at Umm Haram's house. Some researchers believe that her real name has been lost over time. Another version suggests she was Muhammad's foster mother.

Hala Sultan Tekke Regardless of her exact relationship to the Prophet, it is known that she decided to participate in a war to spread Islam among non-believers. It was customary for noble Arab women to accompany their husbands and brothers on long campaigns. In 649, Umm Haram arrived in Cyprus. Near Larnaca, by the salt lake, her mule stumbled on a stone, causing her to fall, break her neck, and die instantly. She was buried at the place of her death.

Another legend says that Prophet Muhammad's foster mother, Umm Haram, arrived in Cyprus with the first Arab conquerors in 649. Noble Arab women traditionally accompanied their husbands and brothers on long campaigns, tended to the wounded, and inspired the warriors of Allah. During a battle near Larnaca, by the Salt Lake, Umm Haram fell from her horse and died. She was buried at the site, with a tomb topped by a 15-ton meteorite stone, said to have been brought by angels from Mount Sinai or Mecca. In 1816, a mosque was built there.

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Umm Haram's sarcophagus is housed in an annex beneath three large stone slabs, which Muslims believe miraculously arrived from Mecca after her death. Legend has it that during one of her travels, Umm Haram admired three large stones at a Christian monk's house and asked for them, saying she would take them when needed. The monk agreed, thinking the stones immovable. Miraculously, during her funeral, the stones appeared on her grave. Today, her grave is covered with a green cloth symbolizing paradise, concealing the stones.

Adjacent to Umm Haram's grave, a Turkish woman, the eldest daughter of the Grand Vizier Mustafa Reza Pasha, was buried in 1929. Another notable burial nearby is under an alabaster tombstone with golden inscriptions, marking the resting place of Khadija, the great-grandmother of the late King Hussein of Jordan. Along the eastern wall facing Mecca lies Umm Haram's tomb, surrounded by several other graves. The most prominent is the two-tiered sarcophagus of Queen Adil Hussein Ali, wife of the ruler of Mecca, Hussein bin Ali. The eastern part of the sanctuary hosts the cemetery of the Turkish governors of Larnaca and Cyprus.

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The Hala Sultan Tekke complex, built by the Ottoman Empire in Cyprus during the 18th and 19th centuries, has a rich history and significance. The construction began with the mausoleum over Umm Haram's burial site in 1760. In 1816, an octagonal mosque with a minaret and accompanying buildings was added, along with a beautiful garden featuring fountains. This site was so revered that, until World War I, Turkish warships passing by Larnaca would lower their flags and fire a cannon salute. Pilgrims from around the world visited to pay their respects to one of Islam's holiest sites.

The architectural complex includes not only the mosque and mausoleum but also residential buildings for both men and women, which served the former dervish monastery. In front of the mosque stands a fountain for the ritual washing of feet, as Muslim tradition requires this cleansing before entering the mosque for prayer. It is also customary for visitors to remove their shoes before entering the mosque.

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The square in front of St. Lazarus Church in Larnaca is a significant historical and cultural site. The church was built in the 9th century by Byzantine Emperor Leo VI to house the relics of St. Lazarus. According to Christian tradition, St. Lazarus was resurrected by Jesus and later traveled to Cyprus, where he became the first bishop of Kition (modern-day Larnaca).

St. Lazarus Church stands at the intersection of St. Lazarus Street and Mehmet Ali Street, reflecting the diverse history of Larnaca and Cyprus. St. Lazarus Street is named after the church's patron saint, emphasizing the religious significance of the area. Mehmet Ali Street, on the other hand, is named after a prominent figure during the Ottoman rule of Cyprus. Mehmet Ali was an influential Ottoman governor who played a crucial role in the administration of the island.

The intersection of these streets symbolizes the confluence of Christian and Ottoman influences in Larnaca's history. The church and the surrounding area represent the blend of religious, cultural, and historical elements that have shaped Larnaca and Cyprus over the centuries.

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"Zouhouri" is associated with the Zouhouri Mosque in Larnaca, constructed in 1860. The mosque was dedicated to an unknown Muslim saint whose body was discovered miraculously preserved while excavating the building’s foundations. This saint was reburied on-site, and his shrine remains within the mosque complex, making it a place of significant historical and spiritual importance.

Zouhouri Square, named after the mosque, has played a crucial role in the history and culture of Larnaca. During the Ottoman period, the area was a bustling market for the Turkish Cypriot community, contributing significantly to the local economy. The complex includes the mosque, a madrasah (religious school), and other buildings that historically served as shops and gathering places.

Following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, the area experienced a decline as the Turkish-Cypriot community moved to the northern part of the island. Recent restoration projects funded by the EU and local authorities aim to revitalise Zouhouri Square, preserving its historical character while adapting it for modern public use. This includes creating spaces for cultural events, adding greenery, and restoring the existing structures.

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The new Municipal Market in central Larnaca, opened in March 2023, stands in stark contrast to its more authentic and historical surroundings. Situated near the recently renovated Zouchouri complex, the market aims to blend modernity with tradition. However, its sleek, contemporary design and emphasis on creating a tourist-friendly environment have sparked debates about its place in Larnaca’s historical landscape.

The market features multiple levels with 20 shops on the ground floor selling local produce such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, cured meats, wine, and baked goods. It also hosts an open-air farmer’s market on Saturdays. The mezzanine level is designed for cafes and cultural events, while the upper level boasts a terrace, roof garden, and bar, offering a more modern and commercial vibe compared to the traditional 'agora' concept.

Despite the efforts to incorporate elements of local culture, such as gastronomy demonstrations and cultural events, the market's contemporary style may seem out of place against the backdrop of Larnaca’s historic center. This juxtaposition highlights the tension between modern consumer culture and the city’s rich historical heritage, potentially alienating locals who value the authenticity of their city’s past.

Overall, while the new Municipal Market aims to enhance the city's appeal to tourists and provide a modern shopping experience, it underscores the challenges of integrating contemporary developments within a historically significant urban landscape.

One undeniable advantage of the new Municipal Market in Larnaca is its covered, free parking facility. This is particularly valuable given that most parking in the city center is paid and often involves interactions with attendants, as well as being entirely open-air.

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Larnaca's historical center has undergone significant restoration, showcasing its rich Mediterranean architectural heritage. This process has focused on preserving typical features such as arched doorways, colonnades, and ornate decorations, which are hallmarks of Mediterranean design. The influence of the English colonial period is also evident in the structured urban planning and certain architectural elements, reflecting a blend of cultural influences that define Larnaca’s unique character.

These restoration efforts aim to maintain the aesthetic and historical integrity of the buildings while adapting them for modern use. By using traditional materials and techniques, the projects ensure that the city's charm and historical narratives are preserved for future generations. The result is a vibrant urban area that respects its past while accommodating contemporary needs.

The statue of Michael Kashalos in Larnaca honors a significant figure in the city's cultural history. Michael Kashalos was a self-taught Cypriot artist born in 1885. Remarkably, he began his artistic career in his 70s, producing works that have been celebrated for their simplicity and emotional depth. Kashalos' life story is a testament to the idea that it is never too late to pursue one's dreams, and his contributions to Cypriot art have left a lasting legacy.

The statue of Michael Kashalos is part of Larnaca’s "Storytelling Statues" initiative, which allows visitors to learn about the history and significance of various statues around the city through an interactive app. This initiative helps bring the stories of important figures like Kashalos to life, providing both locals and tourists with a deeper understanding of Larnaca’s rich cultural heritage.

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Zenon of Kition Street in Larnaca, currently named after the famous philosopher Zeno of Citium, was previously known as "Οδός Ακ Ντενίζ" (Ak Deniz Street) during the Ottoman period. The name "Ak Deniz" translates to "White Sea" in Turkish, reflecting the historical influence of the Ottoman Empire on Cyprus from 1571 to 1878.

Larnaca, known as Kition in ancient times, has a deep historical legacy dating back to its establishment by Mycenaean Greeks around the 13th century BC. The city later became a prominent center for Phoenicians and played a vital role in the Mediterranean trade networks due to its strategic location.

The renaming of Ak Deniz Street to Zenon of Kition Street was part of a broader effort to celebrate local historical figures and cultural heritage following Cyprus's independence in 1960. This change also underscores the city's rich historical tapestry and its evolution through various periods, including Greek, Phoenician, Byzantine, and Ottoman influences.

The area surrounding Zenon of Kition Street reflects this blend of historical periods, contributing to Larnaca's unique character and appeal as a modern city with deep historical roots.

Zenon of Kition Street in Larnaca, previously known as Ak Deniz Street during the Ottoman period, features traditional courtyard houses that provide natural ventilation and cooling. These courtyards serve as private outdoor spaces for social and family gatherings, reflecting the city's historical and cultural heritage. Recent urban developments blend these traditional designs with modern architecture, preserving the street's historical identity.

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Ermou Street in Larnaca is known for its historical mansions that reflect the city’s rich architectural heritage. These mansions, built during the 18th and 19th centuries, showcase a blend of Ottoman and British colonial influences, typical of the Mediterranean region.

Historical Context and Inhabitants: The mansions on Ermou Street were originally built by wealthy merchants and influential local families. These houses often featured elaborate designs, high ceilings, and spacious courtyards, reflecting the prosperity and social status of their owners. During the Ottoman period, the street was a central hub for commerce and social gatherings, which continued into the British colonial era, further enhancing its significance.

Architectural Features: The architectural style of these mansions combines traditional Mediterranean elements with colonial influences. Common features include: - High Ceilings and Large Windows: Designed to facilitate ventilation and natural light. - Central Courtyards: Serving as private outdoor spaces for family gatherings and social events. - Ornate Facades: Incorporating decorative elements like wrought iron balconies and intricate stone carvings.

Naming and Significance: Ermou Street is named after Hermes, the ancient Greek god of commerce, which underscores the street's historical role as a commercial center. The name reflects the importance of trade and merchant activities that have long been associated with this area of Larnaca.

Modern Developments: In recent years, Ermou Street has seen a blend of restoration and modernization efforts. While some historical mansions have been preserved and restored to their former glory, others have been repurposed for contemporary uses, such as shops, cafes, and cultural centers. This combination of old and new helps maintain the street's historical charm while making it relevant to modern urban life.

Ermou Street continues to be a vibrant part of Larnaca, offering a glimpse into the city's historical past and its ongoing evolution.

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Ermou Street in Larnaca is particularly notable for preserving the tradition of jewelry shops. This historic street, named after Hermes, the Greek god of commerce, has long been a hub for jewelers and artisans. Walking down Ermou Street, one can find a variety of jewelry shops that continue to uphold the centuries-old tradition of Cypriot jewelry making, offering both traditional and modern designs to locals and visitors alike.

Historical Background

Larnaca has a rich tradition in jewelry making, with its roots deeply embedded in the city's historical and cultural fabric. The craftsmanship of Larnaca's jewelers reflects a blend of ancient techniques and modern design, attracting both locals and tourists alike. The tradition of jewelry making in Larnaca dates back centuries, with significant influences from the island’s periods under Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, and British rule. Each era contributed to the evolution of jewelry designs and techniques, creating a diverse heritage of craftsmanship.

Key Jewelers and Their Contributions

  1. Kalopedis Jewellery: - Established in 1888, Kalopedis Jewellery is one of the oldest and most renowned jewelers in Cyprus. The Kalopedis family has been producing fine jewelry and silver icons for generations, combining traditional methods with modern designs. Their collections include both decorative and ecclesiastical pieces, reflecting the deep cultural and religious significance of their work in Cypriot society.

  2. Joakim Jewellery: - Founded in 1969, Joakim Jewellery is known for its high-quality craftsmanship in gold and silver jewelry. Located in the heart of Larnaca, just minutes from the beach, this family-run business offers a variety of well-crafted jewelry pieces, including bracelets, necklaces, and branded watches.

  3. Local Craftsmanship: - In addition to these established names, Larnaca is home to numerous smaller workshops and family businesses that continue to practice traditional jewelry making. These artisans often use fine silver wire to create intricate filigree designs, a craft known as "trifouri," which results in beautiful handmade jewelry and decorative items.

Cultural and Economic Impact

The jewelry industry in Larnaca not only preserves traditional Cypriot craftsmanship but also contributes significantly to the local economy. The city’s jewelers attract tourists and collectors from around the world, who come to admire and purchase unique, handcrafted pieces.

Modern Developments

In recent years, Larnaca has seen a resurgence in the appreciation for traditional jewelry. Modern jewelers are blending ancient techniques with contemporary designs to create pieces that appeal to both traditional and modern tastes. This fusion ensures that the rich heritage of Cypriot jewelry making continues to thrive in the modern market.

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Kapetanios Antiques is a charming antique shop located in the heart of Larnaca, renowned for its eclectic collection of vintage and antique items. The shop captures the essence of historical and cultural artifacts, offering a glimpse into the past through its varied assortment.

Overview and Features

The shop features a wide range of items including antique furniture, vintage glassware, old bottles, collectible figurines, and decorative pieces. The interior is a treasure trove for collectors and enthusiasts of historical items, meticulously arranged to showcase the unique charm of each piece.

  • Furniture: The store boasts antique furniture pieces, such as intricately carved wooden cabinets and dressers that reflect the craftsmanship of bygone eras.
  • Glassware and Bottles: A significant portion of the collection includes vintage glassware and bottles, ranging from elegant crystal glasses to old liquor bottles, each with its own story and history.
  • Decorative Items: The shelves are filled with various decorative items including porcelain figurines, ceramic vases, and old toys, which add a nostalgic touch to the shop's ambiance.

Location and Significance

Situated on a historic street in Larnaca, Kapetanios Antiques stands as a testament to the city's rich cultural heritage. The shop not only provides a commercial service but also serves as a cultural landmark where history enthusiasts can connect with the past.

Kapetanios Antiques is more than just a store; it is a journey through time, inviting visitors to explore and appreciate the artifacts that have shaped cultural histories. Whether you are a serious collector or simply looking to add a touch of vintage charm to your home, this shop offers a unique and enriching experience.

For those interested in visiting, Kapetanios Antiques provides a delightful escape into the past, right in the heart of modern Larnaca.

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Many of the semi-ruined and abandoned houses in Larnaca are a stark reminder of the aftermath of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus. This conflict caused a significant population shift, with Turkish Cypriots fleeing to the north and Greek Cypriots moving south, leaving many homes and buildings abandoned and decaying over the years.

These abandoned buildings have long since become canvases for graffiti artists. One notable mural features an accordionist, which not only adds color to the urban landscape but also holds cultural significance. The accordion is an important instrument in Cypriot tavern culture, often accompanying traditional music played during lively gatherings and celebrations. In the warm, communal atmosphere of a Cypriot tavern, the accordion's melodies contribute to the joyous and festive spirit, enhancing the experience of local cuisine and dance.

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The Kyriazis Medical Museum in Larnaca, also known as the Medical Museum of Kyriazi, offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of medicine and medical practices in Cyprus. Located in a charming 1927 mansion at 35 Karaoli & Demetriou Street, the museum showcases an extensive collection of medical artifacts, books, and equipment spanning from ancient times to the 1980s.

Exhibits and Collections

The museum features a variety of exhibits, including: - Old Medical Instruments: Visitors can explore historical surgical instruments, an X-ray machine, and a fully stocked pharmacist's display unit. - Medical Documents and Books: The museum houses old books and framed documents that trace the development of medical practices and health care in Cyprus. - Traditional Pharmaceutical Furniture: Displays include traditional pharmaceutical furniture and equipment used in the 19th and 20th centuries. - Unique Artifacts: Items such as an electronic EKG measuring instrument and an ancient bullet extractor are among the unique pieces on display.

Cultural Significance

The museum aims to preserve and promote the medical cultural heritage of Cyprus, providing insight into how medical practices have evolved over centuries. It serves as an educational resource for both the public and medical professionals, fostering an appreciation for the history of medicine.

Hours of Operation and Admission

The Kyriazis Medical Museum is open on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 09:00 to 12:30. It is closed on all other days, but appointments can be made for visits outside these hours. Admission to the museum is free, making it an accessible and enriching experience for all visitors.

Visiting Information

  • Address: 35 Karaoli & Demetriou Street, Larnaca, 6021 Cyprus
  • Contact: +357 97 606 424
  • Website: Kyriazis Medical Museum
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Konstantinou Kalogera Street in Larnaca is famous for its vibrant graffiti and street art, particularly works by renowned local artist Achilleas Michaelides, also known as Paparazzi. These colorful murals have transformed the semi-abandoned and neglected buildings into lively canvases, bringing a modern artistic flair to the historic street. One of the notable murals features an accordionist, a homage to the cultural significance of the accordion in Cypriot tavern music. The accordion is a central instrument in traditional Cypriot gatherings and celebrations, contributing to the joyful and festive atmosphere in local taverns .

The transformation of Konstantinou Kalogera Street through graffiti highlights the blend of historical context and contemporary art, enriching the cultural landscape of Larnaca and providing a vibrant, living gallery for residents and visitors alike.

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Constantinou Kalogera Street in Larnaca is a fascinating blend of history and modernity. As you walk down this street, you'll notice the remnants of old, grand buildings that tell stories of a bygone era, now weathered by time yet still standing as a testament to the city's rich past. These structures, though partially in ruins, add a nostalgic charm and a sense of continuity with history.

Amidst these historical relics, the street also showcases Larnaca's embrace of contemporary culture. For instance, vibrant murals adorn the sides of renovated buildings, seamlessly integrating modern art into the traditional urban landscape. One striking mural depicts a masked woman with a slingshot, symbolizing resilience and modern challenges. This artistic expression adds color and narrative, making the street a living canvas that speaks to both the past and the present.

Thus, Constantinou Kalogera Street captures the essence of Larnaca – a city that honors its historical heritage while dynamically engaging with contemporary artistic movements. This blend of old and new creates a unique atmosphere, inviting both locals and visitors to explore and appreciate the evolving story of the city.

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Historical Context Before 1974 Before the 1974 Turkish invasion, St. Lazarus Street in Larnaca was a vibrant area steeped in history and culture. The street, named after the prominent Church of Saint Lazarus, was lined with homes and shops owned by Greek Cypriot residents. The neighborhood was a bustling community hub, with the church playing a central role in the social and religious life of its inhabitants. The architecture of the buildings reflected the typical Cypriot style with influences from Byzantine, Gothic, and Ottoman periods, showcasing arched doorways, stone facades, and traditional wooden balconies.

Changes Post-1974

The events of 1974 significantly altered the landscape and demographic of St. Lazarus Street. Many homes were abandoned or left in disrepair as the Greek Cypriot population fled to the south. This led to a period of neglect for many buildings in the area. Over the years, some of these buildings fell into ruin, while others have been slowly restored as part of efforts to revitalize Larnaca's historical center.

Present-Day St. Lazarus Street

Today, St. Lazarus Street is a blend of the old and new. Restoration projects have brought many of the historic buildings back to life, preserving their architectural charm. The Church of Saint Lazarus remains a focal point, attracting both locals and tourists who come to admire its Byzantine architecture and historical significance. Surrounding the church, the street is now dotted with cafes, souvenir shops, and small businesses, contributing to a lively atmosphere. Modern amenities have been integrated into the area, enhancing its appeal as a cultural and historical destination.

The Role of Graffiti

In recent years, the walls of many old buildings on St. Lazarus Street have become canvases for graffiti artists. One notable mural depicts an accordionist, symbolizing the importance of the accordion in Cypriot tavern culture. The accordion is a key instrument in traditional Cypriot music, often heard in taverns and during celebrations, contributing to the festive and communal atmosphere that characterizes local social gatherings.

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Michalaki Paridi Street in Larnaca combines traditional Cypriot architecture with modern elements. Named after Michalaki Paridi, an influential local politician and community leader, the street honors his contributions to Larnaca's development in the mid-20th century. Known for his work in improving infrastructure and public services, Paridi's efforts significantly advanced the city's socio-economic status. The street features classic stone walls, wrought-iron balconies, and wooden shutters, alongside vibrant shops and welcoming messages, reflecting both the historical and contemporary spirit of Larnaca.

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The Holy Church of Saint Lazarus in Larnaca, Cyprus, is a significant historical and religious landmark. Dedicated to Lazarus of Bethany, the church was built by Byzantine Emperor Leo VI in the late 9th century to honour the saint and house his relics.

Saint Lazarus: Lazarus of Bethany is a biblical figure known for being resurrected by Jesus four days after his death, as the Gospel of John recounted. Following his resurrection, Lazarus fled to Cyprus due to threats on his life in Judea. He was appointed as the first Bishop of Kition (modern-day Larnaca) by Paul the Apostle and Barnabas, and he lived for another 30 years before dying again and being buried in Larnaca.

Church History and Architecture: The Church of Saint Lazarus was constructed over the saint's second tomb, rediscovered in 890 AD, with an inscription stating, "Lazarus, four days dead, a friend of Christ." In 898 AD, Lazarus' relics were transferred to Constantinople, but the church remained a significant pilgrimage site. The church is a prime example of Byzantine architecture, featuring three aisles supported by bulky double pillars and a unique tripartite sanctuary.

During the Frankish and Venetian periods, the church was converted to a Roman Catholic church, and a Gothic-style entrance was added. Under Ottoman rule, the church was turned into a mosque, and the original domes and bell tower were destroyed. In 1589, it was sold back to the Orthodox community, and it remained a shared place of worship for Orthodox and Catholics until the 18th century.

Restoration and Current Status: The church has undergone several restorations, especially after significant damage from a fire in 1970. The baroque iconostasis, a masterpiece of woodcarving, was gold-plated and partially restored. Human remains believed to be those of Saint Lazarus were found during these restorations.

Today, the Church of Saint Lazarus is a testament to Larnaca's rich religious history, combining elements from different architectural styles and periods. Visitors can explore the church, its crypt, and the nearby Byzantine Museum, which houses various ecclesiastical artefacts.

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Beneath the church lies a crypt that houses the reputed tomb of Saint Lazarus. This crypt is a focal point for pilgrims and visitors, who come to pay their respects and witness a tangible connection to early Christian history. The crypt and its tomb are thought to date back to the original period when the church was constructed, making it a site of immense archaeological and spiritual value.

Archaeological excavations have revealed that the church was built over the remains of an earlier burial site, which included sarcophagi and other tombs dating back to the early Christian period. This discovery highlights the continuous religious significance of the site from antiquity through the medieval period.

In 890 AD, a tomb inscribed with "Lazarus, four days dead, friend of Christ" was found, prompting Emperor Leo VI to transfer the saint's relics to Constantinople in 898 AD. Although most of the relics were taken, some remained, and during the 1972 renovations, additional human remains were discovered under the altar, believed to be part of the saint's relics. These findings reinforce the church's role as a vital repository of Christian heritage.

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The iconostasis of the Holy Church of Saint Lazarus in Larnaca is a remarkable piece of religious art and craftsmanship, reflecting the church's rich history and spiritual significance. This intricate, gold-plated iconostasis was created between 1773 and 1782 by Chatzisavvas Taliadorou and was later gold-plated between 1793 and 1797. The iconostasis is a magnificent example of Baroque woodcarving, blending religious symbolism with artistic elegance.

The iconostasis serves as a screen separating the nave from the sanctuary, adorned with numerous icons depicting various saints and biblical scenes. The primary purpose of iconostasis is to display icons that convey the spiritual narrative and theological themes central to Orthodox Christianity. It is also a focal point for worship and adoration within the church.

  1. Central Icons: At the centre of the iconostasis is the Deesis, featuring Christ enthroned, flanked by the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist, interceding for humanity. This depiction is central to Orthodox theology, emphasizing the role of Christ as the mediator.

  2. Feast Icons: Surrounding the central Deesis are icons of the twelve Great Feasts, significant events in the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary. These include the Nativity, the Baptism of Christ, the Transfiguration, and the Resurrection.

  3. Apostles and Prophets: Above the central icons, rows of icons depict the Apostles and Old Testament Prophets, highlighting the continuity of God’s covenant from the Old to the New Testament.

  4. Saint Lazarus: Given the church’s dedication, an icon of Saint Lazarus, portrayed as a bishop, is prominently displayed. This icon reflects his role as the first Bishop of Kition and his resurrection by Jesus, symbolizing faith and hope.

As seen in the photo, the church's interior showcases the Byzantine architectural style with thick stone walls, arched openings, and a vaulted ceiling. The chandeliers and other decorative elements further enhance the spiritual ambience. The wooden furniture, including pews and the bishop’s throne, adds to the church's overall historical and aesthetic value.

The Church of Saint Lazarus has undergone several changes throughout its history, including its conversion to a mosque during the Ottoman period and subsequent restoration to an Orthodox church. The iconostasis has been preserved and restored multiple times, most notably after a fire in 1970 that caused significant damage. The restoration efforts included re-plating the iconostasis with gold and repairing damaged icons.

Today, visitors to the Church of Saint Lazarus can admire the intricate details of the iconostasis and the overall interior, gaining a deeper understanding of the church’s historical and religious significance. The church remains a vital place of worship and pilgrimage, drawing locals and tourists who seek to connect with its rich spiritual heritage.

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History of the Bell Tower of the Church of Saint Lazarus

The Church of Saint Lazarus in Larnaca, constructed at the end of the 9th century, is a significant historical and religious landmark. During Ottoman rule, starting in 1571, the church was converted into a mosque, destroying the original bell tower and its three domes. In 1589, the church was sold back to the Orthodox community and served both Orthodox and Catholic congregations for the next two centuries.

Construction of a New Bell Tower

In 1857, the Ottoman authorities permitted the reconstruction of bell towers, and a new bell tower in the Latin style was built. This bell tower, which remains a prominent feature of the church today, enhances the architectural beauty of the building and symbolizes the revival of religious freedom in the region.

Byzantine Museum at the Church of Saint Lazarus

Adjacent to the Church of Saint Lazarus is the Byzantine Museum, an integral part of the complex. The museum houses a collection of Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons, vestments, books, sacred objects, candlesticks, and intricate wood carvings. It offers visitors a profound insight into the region's religious and cultural heritage, illustrating how artistic and spiritual traditions have evolved over the centuries.

Visiting Information

The museum welcomes visitors daily from 08:00, except Sundays when it opens at 06:30. During the summer, it remains open until 18:30, while in winter, it closes at 17:30. Entry to the museum is free. It is equipped to accommodate visitors with disabilities.

The Church and Museum of Saint Lazarus in Larnaca are vital religious centres and symbols of historical and cultural continuity, drawing numerous pilgrims and tourists from around the world.

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Metropolis Mall in Larnaca is the epitome of modern consumer culture, showcasing how traditional shopping centre concepts can sometimes clash with the unique landscape of small communities and cultures. This might be just my perspective, but something feels off despite its popularity and the bustling crowds. The mall features various dining establishments, yet all lack soul and flavour. Much like airport food, the sandwiches here are bland and indistinguishable—neither salty nor savoury, neither spicy nor mild. Everything feels generic and homogeneous.

The decor is attractive and well-designed, but I would never trade a genuine Cypriot taverna experience for what’s available here. As for the brand stores and prices, everything is pretty standard, if not a bit overpriced and pretentious. In essence, it’s a mall like any other. You can tick it off your list, but I wouldn’t linger here.

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As you approach the village of Lefkara, you'll be kindly instructed to park your car at the entrance. The locals will help you find a spot, citing the narrow streets ahead that can be difficult to navigate. While this might seem like an exaggeration, you can drive deeper into the village, but it's not recommended for several reasons. Firstly, ample parking at the entrance makes it convenient to leave your car there. Secondly, starting your journey on foot lets you leisurely explore the area's beauty, appreciating the charming streets and local architecture.

Moreover, as you park, you might notice a nearby shop where the owner steps out to greet you. They'll likely offer you a selection of Lefkara's renowned lace and silverware, two of the village's most celebrated crafts. This initial step provides a less touristy experience than the bustling souvenir shops in the village centre. Thus, parking at the entrance avoids the hassle of navigating tight streets and enhances your visit by giving you a more authentic and relaxed introduction to Lefkara's artisanal heritage.

Lefkara is nestled in the foothills of the Troodos Mountains, high above sea level, offering a more relaxed climate without being part of the mountainous massif itself. This picturesque village is known for its charming narrow streets, traditional architecture, and significant cultural heritage. Despite its beauty, Lefkara has its share of abandoned houses, a topic worth discussing later.

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At the entrance to the village of Lefkara stands the modest Church of Saint Neophytos. The village's first recorded mention dates back to the 12th century, connected to Saint Neophytos, born in the nearby town of Kato Drys. Neophytos, meaning "newly planted" or "convert" in Greek, was a monk who taught himself to read and write over 18 years, leaving behind numerous 12th-century writings. His cell and monastery are located near Paphos, though he hailed from northern Cyprus.

Adjacent to the Church of Saint Neophytos, you will find a clean and well-maintained public restroom, always open for visitors.

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Lefkaritika is the name of a distinctive style of lace that originated in Lefkara, Cyprus, around the 14th century. The designs often feature geometric patterns inspired by ancient Greek and Byzantine motifs, as well as the embroidery styles of Venetian courtiers who ruled Cyprus from 1489. Lefkara lace gained international fame when Leonardo da Vinci visited Cyprus in 1481 and purchased a lace tablecloth for the main altar of Milan's Duomo Cathedral.

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Walking through the streets of Lefkara, one cannot help but notice how everything is subject to change, often in profound ways. Lefkara was once one of the wealthiest villages in Cyprus, thanks to its renowned lace (Lefkaritika) and silver crafts. The latter half of the 19th and 20th centuries were marked by the prominence of these crafts, which brought prosperity to the village.

However, as you stroll around today, you see abandoned houses, a stark reminder of the village's changing fortunes. Locals say that many of these homes were once inhabited by Turkish Cypriots who left for the north after the 1974 conflict. It wasn't just the Turkish Cypriots who departed; many Greek Cypriots also left, seeking better opportunities in the cities as times became tough and the younger generation yearned for urban life. This migration has left its mark on Lefkara, transforming it from a bustling hub of artisanal craft to a quieter village, with echoes of its rich past still visible in its architecture and streets.

Lefkara derives its name from the Greek words for "white" and "mountains, hills." This name reflects the high content of limestone and silicon dioxide in the local rocks, which give the mountain slopes their distinctive white colour. Most of the village's houses are built from limestone, and its streets are paved with this white stone, adding to the village's unique and charming appearance.

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Lefkaritika lace was so significant and renowned in Lefkara that it was successfully sold from Egypt to Turkey. The craft's importance led to the establishment of a school in the village dedicated to teaching young girls the intricate art of lace-making. With the arrival of the British, telephones and telegraphs were introduced to the town, marking a period of technological advancement.

However, today, these once-essential buildings stand semi-empty. Although their two-story structure indicates they were built during the early 20th century's peak, their current state reflects changing times and priorities. While still respected, the lace-making tradition no longer holds the same central role it once did in the village's economy and daily life.

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The Lefkara Museum of Traditional Embroidery and Silversmith Work is a cultural gem in the historic House of Patsalos. This museum was established in 1988 after the Department of Antiquities acquired and restored the house, thanks to a donation from Stelios Ioannou.

The Patsalos family's prominence began in the mid-19th century with Michalis Patsalos, who founded the family's estate. The family was involved in various trades, including producing the famous Lefkara lace, metal tools, and pottery. They also contributed to local education by running public and private schools and a music school. The family was essential to the local government and the community's social development.​

What to See

The museum showcases the rich tradition of Lefkara lace (Lefkaritika) and silversmithing, which have been significant to the village’s heritvillage's ground floor features displays of traditional village life, including a rural-type dining room and storeroom with large jars and agricultural tools. The upper floor has three rooms furnished to reflect a grand Lefkara house from the 19th and early 20th centuries, complete with traditional costumes, jewellery, silverwork, and an extensive collection of Lefkara embroidery.

A separate building within the museum complex includes a reconstruction of a blacksmith’s blacksmith's, which is complete with original tools and authentic sound effects, offering a vivid glimpse into the traditional crafts of the village.

Visiting Information

  • Opening Hours:
    • Winter (September 16 - April 15): Daily from 08:30 to 16:00
    • Summer (April 16 - September 15): Daily from 09:30 to 17:00
  • Admission Fee: €2.50
  • Contact: +357 24 34 23 26
  • Accessibility: The museum is not wheelchair accessible and is closed on certain public holidays.

Patronage and Support

The museum is maintained under the patronage of the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus and showcases items that highlight the cultural and historical significance of Lefkara’s traLefkara'scrafts.

A stunning view awaits on the street between the Museum of Traditional Embroidery and Silversmith Work and the Chapel of Saint Andronikos. From here, you can see the sea and the surroundings of Larnaca. In the heart of medieval Lefkara, this area was the centre of village life in the 13th and 14th centuries.

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During the Frankish and Venetian periods (1191-1571), Pano Lefkara became a fiefdom. Lace-making thrived, providing a new source of income for the village, as agriculture was unreliable. Saint Andronikos, an apostle from the 1st century and a relative of Saint Paul, became a revered figure in Lefkara. During conflicts between the Lusignan dynasty and the powers of Genoa and Venice, Andronikos symbolized freedom and service, becoming a village patron. His chapel, the heart of the village in the 15th century, has been restored and remains active today.

The rich burgundy, green, and blue colours of wooden shutters and doors with wrought iron hinges and old locks beautifully complement the sunlit natural stone. Lefkara's houses tell a story of architectural evolution over the centuries. Some homes date back to the Ottoman era, while others, with long balconies and ground-floor shops, were built by the British. These buildings are being restored today, bringing new life to their historic charm.

Adamos Taverna in Lefkara is a family-run establishment passed down through several generations. It features authentic and atmospheric decor. While the food receives mixed reviews, the taverna is known for its delicious coffee and a unique dessert: halva baked with apple and cinnamon. This makes it a worthwhile stop for a sweet treat and a taste of local hospitality.

In recent years, Lefkara has seen an increase in immaculate, newly renovated restaurants and beautiful homes. This marks a new chapter in the village's history. Europeans, weary of city life, are moving here, renovating properties to high standards, and enjoying the serene lifestyle. However, this pleasure has become far from inexpensive, reflecting the growing demand and transformation of the village.

Lefkara's historical buildings are constructed using limestone and silicon dioxide, giving them a distinctive white colour. This combination of aged wood adds a unique charm to the village. The weathered and polished appearance of the stone exudes a sense of durability and strength. Most houses and the cobblestone streets of Lefkara boast this characteristic, enhancing the village's unique and timeless appeal.

The charming views of Lefkara's stone-paved streets are enhanced by brightly polished shutters and window frames. While some of the architectural details are recent additions by restorers, they blend beautifully with the village's historic ambience. This combination of old and new creates a picturesque and appealing aesthetic, adding to the allure of Lefkara.

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Amidst Lefkara's enchanting beauty lies a poignant sight: abandoned homes with intricate doors and wrought-iron grilles leading to central gardens where lemon trees still bear fruit. These elegant homes once reflected the wealth of their owners. The population exodus from Pano Lefkara between the 1930s and 1970s left many dwellings empty. Tourism has had minimal impact on traditional architecture, with many houses remaining untouched and uninhabited, preserving the village's historical integrity and evoking a sense of nostalgia.

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Despite the beauty of the stone walls, some places in Lefkara reveal remnants of walls painted blue. This ancient tradition is widespread in Greek-speaking regions, especially in the Cyclades. The tradition of painting houses blue in Greek villages is practical and symbolic. The blue paint, made from a mixture of limestone and a cleaning agent, practically acts as a natural disinfectant. Symbolically, blue is believed to ward off evil spirits and protect homes. Additionally, during the 1930s, a government mandate aimed to unify the appearance of the islands, leading to the widespread adoption of blue and white as the standard colours, enhancing the picturesque and cohesive look of these villages.

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As we approach the modern centre of the village, it's noteworthy that Lefkara is also renowned for its silver craftsmanship, including jewellery, utensils, and icon covers made from solid silver and silver filigree. The first silversmith, Yiannis Karaolos, settled in Lefkara in 1840 and opened his workshop. By 1974, around 30 workshops were operating. Today, fewer workshops remain, but Lefkara silver confidently holds its place as the second most crucial craft in the village.

In 2009, Lefkara lace was inscribed on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, recognizing its cultural significance and the need to preserve this delicate art. Today, visitors to Lefkara can witness the lace-making process and purchase these exquisite handmade items as souvenirs.

It's always interesting to ask when the best time to visit is to see the beauty of Lefkara at its finest. The answer is always the same: in the late afternoon. As the sun sets, it casts gentle rays that softly embrace the village, creating a magical and picturesque atmosphere.

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Timios Stavros Street (Τίμιος Σταυρός) in Lefkara is considered the heart of the village, lined with main souvenir and commercial shops and stalls. The street's name is connected to the village's principal shrine and an invaluable center of cultural and spiritual life for all of Cyprus, the Church of the Holy Cross. The church is renowned for its precious relic, containing a piece of the True Cross on which Jesus Christ is believed to have been crucified.

On this street, you will find many souvenir shops, but they sell not only local handicrafts but also mass-produced items. For example, you might find pillowcases from China with Levantine symbols like the evil eye or Chinese lace. However, within each such shop, there is genuine local craftsmanship, though it is not cheap and is intended for true connoisseurs.

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Parallel to St. Cross Street runs another significant but less crowded street, Grigoris Afxentiou (Γρηγόρης Αυξεντίου). It is named after the distinguished Cypriot independence fighter, born in the village of Lefkara in 1928. He served in the British army but later joined EOKA (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston), an organization fighting for Cyprus's liberation from British rule and union with Greece.

Afxentiou became a legendary figure of resistance due to his heroic actions and determination. He led guerrilla groups and participated in numerous battles against British forces. His death in 1957 became a symbol of self-sacrifice and courage. He was surrounded by British forces in a cave and, refusing to surrender, died in combat. A large monument dedicated to him stands at the Machairas Monastery along the mountain pass from Lefkara to another equally remarkable village, Fikardou, which has remained unchanged since the 16th century. Between these streets stands a large Easter egg, as Easter is perhaps the most important and joyful time of the year for Orthodox Christian Cypriots, celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

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The central square of Lefkara is the focal point of village life. This square began to develop during the British rule in Cyprus, that is, in the early 20th century. A school was built here, along with several public buildings and a small chapel dedicated to Saint Paraskevi. Saint Paraskevi is one of the most beloved saints in Cyprus, and her feast day is widely celebrated on the island. The Feast of Saint Paraskevi is observed on July 26th.

Saint Paraskevi was a martyr who lived in the 2nd century. Born into a devout family, she took a vow of celibacy and dedicated her life to serving God. During the persecution of Christians, she was captured by pagans who demanded that she renounce her faith. She was tortured and imprisoned overnight, but by morning, her wounds were miraculously healed. The pagans, unmoved by this miracle, ultimately beheaded her.

Not far from Paphos, a 9th-century Byzantine church is dedicated to Saint Paraskevi, staying in the village, poetically named "The Blooming Garden."

On this same square, a commemorative plaque was recently installed in honour of Vassos Lyssarides (Greek: Βάσος Λυσσαρίδης; May 13th 1920 – April 26th 2021). Lyssarides was born in 1920 in the village of Pano Lefkara. He studied medicine at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and worked as a physician. He was closely associated with Archbishop Makarios III and was his physician for many years. He was also the founder of the socialist party in Cyprus, and it is noteworthy that the plaque begins with the words: "Ideas do not die."

In today's context, where the capitalist world was confident that socialism had been defined with the end of the Cold War, it is entirely unexpected that socialist ideas and post-Marxist trends have now permeated many leading universities in the Western world. How ironic is history!

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One of the most beautiful and pleasant walks is aimlessly wandering through the picturesque streets of Lefkara, where you are surrounded by houses that carry within them the delightful stories of flourishing, decline, and rebirth. Lefkara, having reached its peak activity at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries thanks to its lace and silverwork, quickly fell into decline in the mid-20th century with the struggle for independence from Great Britain and almost faced collapse during the Turkish intervention in 1974. Today, we witness a remarkable revival, with houses being restored, new residents arriving, no longer the same exodus to the cities as before, new businesses emerging, and many Europeans settling here, adding additional charm and boosting the economy. Lefkara has a sense of development, growth, and prosperity, which is very encouraging.

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It is not always possible to see the traditional Lefkara lace-making in action. Still, on the corner of this souvenir shop that has stood unchanged for over a hundred years and is owned by one family, you can witness Lefkara women sitting and embroidering right on the street. According to local tradition, the history of this embroidery dates back to 1191-1571 when some noble ladies from the West taught women of Lefkara. According to the same source, Leonardo da Vinci visited Lefkara in 1481 and took one of the embroideries to the Milan Cathedral. The British, who settled in Cyprus in 1878, discovered that the embroidery, which the village women had been making for their daughters' dowries and to decorate their homes, could be a profitable source of income.

The main features and necessary materials for making Lefkara embroidery include:

  • A small pillow called a "plume"
  • Irish linen
  • French thread
  • The same pattern on both sides, so there is no difference between the front and the back
  • Geometric designs consisting of cuts and raised elements (kofta, anevata)

As is often the case with great success and growth, there come downsides, such as the pursuit of profit and a detachment from roots. Many Cypriots left Lefkara and moved to cities, and even more emigrated, initially joining Cypriot communities in Turkey, the Middle East, and later in Europe. Only now is everything coming to a natural balance, where the village's value—tranquillity, purity, and authenticity—is highly appreciated among those fleeing the hustle and bustle of large cities.

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Cats are amazing creatures and symbolise many things, particularly in Lefkara. They embody tranquillity, cosiness, and a leisurely pace. Cats perfectly complement the symbols of lace and embroidery; in this combination, there is something quiet, soft, unhurried, and very kind. It is no coincidence that cats feel at home in all the shops, which are often just the ground floor of a residential house. From a cat's perspective, the shop is merely an extension of the home, so the cat is a rightful owner of the shop's territory. This only underscores the homely atmosphere in Lefkara—not just in the house or its extension, the shop, but in the village itself, where the street feels like an extension of the home. This is the essence and charm of the village of Lefkara.


Another remarkable feature of Lefkara and all Cypriot villages is the abundance of flowers. Flowers are everywhere—geraniums, petunias, and roses. In the nearby village of Vavatsinia, the annual rose festival takes place, and it is said that the roses there are incredibly fragrant, thanks to the climate. Unlike Lefkara, which is situated at an altitude of 600 meters above sea level, Vavatsinia is higher, at an altitude of 800 meters.

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The Agora Hotel in Lefkara is a delightful blend of traditional Cypriot charm and modern comfort. Nestled in the heart of the village, it offers an authentic experience that captures the essence of Lefkara. The rooms are beautifully restored, showcasing traditional decor, and the cosy courtyard is perfect for relaxing. The hotel also boasts a fantastic restaurant where you can savour the local cuisine.

One unique aspect of the Agora Hotel is its policy of not accommodating children, which adds an extra touch of exclusivity and creates a unique atmosphere for its guests. This exclusivity, combined with the higher-than-average prices, attracts a particular audience—mainly Europeans over 50, who often come after their children are grown and their careers are established. The presence of this demographic has been steadily increasing in Lefkara, adding to the village's unique charm.

Staying at the Agora Hotel is not just a delightful retreat; it can also be seen as a significant investment, either as a personal haven for your later years or as a way to contribute to the local tourism industry, ensuring a prosperous future for the village.

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Where there are Europeans, there is a demand for European traditions and coffee. For example, in this part of the village, where the most popular tourist trail runs from the Church of the Holy Cross to the main street and square, everything has long been restored, polished, and cleaned. Local cuisine has been replaced by pizza and hamburgers to meet demand. What I never understood is why people visit authentic villages only to seek what they are used to at home. But let that remain a mystery. Here, you can find coffee to suit any taste and with all sorts of toppings (as if that's necessary). Overall, it's pleasant but somewhat commercialized.

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The street from the centre to the Church of the Holy Cross is lined with beautiful houses and elegant turns, with almost every corner photogenic and inviting you to find the perfect angle for your next photo masterpiece. However, the history and fate of these buildings and their owners are equally fascinating. The British built houses with extended balconies and shops on the ground floor. Today, these buildings are being restored, breathing new life into them.

One such building, constructed at the beginning of the last century, is the family café Tasies. The building stood empty for many years, but in 2010, new owners restored it, preserving the interior and furnishings that showcase how English families lived in Cyprus. The café features a magnificent music lounge, fireplace, and library with rare art books. In the café itself, you can enjoy traditional Cypriot dishes. Opt for the simplest ones: bean soup or tava—pieces of lamb slow-cooked in clay pots. Not only is the food delicious, but the hospitality of the café owners is also heartwarming. They ensure your tea isn't too hot, offer advice on what to see in Lefkara, and even help you cut your meatballs.

The Chapel of Saint Mamas is the oldest chapel in Lefkara. It likely dates back to the 10th century, during the peak of Byzantine rule on the island when Cyprus was an integral part of the Eastern Roman Empire. This chapel is part of the "LEFKARAMA" hotel complex and features significant paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries.

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Lefkara is full of beautiful corners, each with something special. First, there is the historical construction of roofs. They consist of superficial branches on a base of thin rods, where hay and straw are placed and then coated with clay. This method is simple, easy, and effective but requires constant maintenance. Additionally, the walls are painted blue. This is not only beautiful but also believed to protect against evil spirits. The spirits looking down from above try to find something to latch onto and cause harm, but if the house is painted blue, it blends with the sky, making it invisible.

Lastly, the elegant arch is made of stones, symbolizing the primary architectural unit. The arch serves as both a structural element and a critical decorative feature. The genius of its design lies in its ability to bear weight and add aesthetic value simultaneously.

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It's no surprise that silversmiths are renowned in Lefkara. Everything here has its traditions and history. Among the village's treasures is a silver cross, a long-standing and highly valued relic dating back to the 14th century. This cross was created for the local bishop, Olvin, appointed by Cyprus's Frankish (Latin) rulers during the Lusignan dynasty, the heirs to the Jerusalem throne from the Crusades.

The cross holds a special significance because it contains fragments of the True Cross. These fragments were brought to Cyprus by Saint Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, who discovered the cross in an ancient water reservoir in Jerusalem near Golgotha. The fragment travelled with her to Constantinople, but during a storm at sea, the ship found refuge in a natural harbour between Limassol and Larnaca, still known today as Vasiliko, meaning "royal." From there, Helena travelled to Lefkara, and thus the cross fragment found its way to this village.

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In 1341, under the supervision of Bishop Olvin, a church was erected on the site of an ancient temple. The construction was made possible thanks to a generous donation from Alice, the queen consort of King Hugh IV. Alice was miraculously cured of muteness, which had occurred to her due to inappropriate behaviour at the Machairas Monastery.

The church houses an exquisite silver cross, a masterpiece adorned with 14 reliefs depicting the life of Christ. The cross is surrounded by angels and the saints Constantine and Helena. At its base, beneath the depiction of the Crucifixion, lies a fragment of the Life-Giving Cross, flanked by images of the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist, encircled by four angels.

The design of the cross is intricate: the horizontal row features Constantine the Great, the betrayal of Jesus, Golgotha, and Saint Helena. The vertical row includes the Throne of the Second Coming, the Resurrection of Jesus, the Deposition from the Cross, and Christ's Burial. At the base of the cross is an inscription and a portrait of Olvin. The cross, embellished with precious stones, holds a sacred relic—a fragment of the Life-Giving Cross described by the Russian pilgrim Vasily Grigorovich-Barsky as part of the base where the feet of Jesus Christ were nailed, with two small holes from the nails of the Crucifixion.

This silver cross is kept in the church's sacristy on regular days behind an elegantly carved iconostasis. The church underwent restoration in 1740, during which a wooden iconostasis crafted by sculptor Hatzikirakos from Rhodes was installed. The inscription "The Redemption of Chris" indicates that the iconostasis was gilded in 1761 under the watchful eye of Bishop Makarios of Kition.

Over the years, the church has seen further enhancements. In 1857, a magnificent bell tower was constructed, with bells donated by devout natives of Lefkara living abroad. The church was expanded in 1867, and 1909 the propylaea were built and preserved. The last touch was added in 1953 when the church's dome was painted, completing its transformation into the architectural marvel it is today.

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Lefkara is truly enchanting. On a narrow, picturesque alley, one of the most beautiful boutique hotels offers a unique blend of modern comfort and traditional Cypriot atmosphere. Right next to it, there's a dead-end alley with abandoned houses full of charm and waiting for their renewal. These houses uniquely charm Lefkara, reflecting its rich history and cultural heritage. Walking through these streets, you can feel like part of a fairy tale, where the past harmoniously blends with the present, creating the unique atmosphere of this village.

Lefkara holds many unexpected twists and discoveries, especially with new residents. Mostly, Europeans have moved here to spend their retirement in their newly acquired village properties. And what can I say? Amazingly, everything here blends harmoniously. Even the seemingly out-of-place iron security grilles on the windows add a touch of creative harmony to the already-established and familiar village architecture.

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Let's end our walk through Lefkara near the Chapel of Saint George Kontos and the Craft Center. This street leads us back to the village's central area. Notably, these places were once close to a market that thrived in the 20th century. "Kontos" means "near" or "adjacent," indicating that this chapel was close to Lefkara or, more precisely, to the Plateau of Lefkara, which is Upper Lefkara – the main village. The Craft Center is fascinating, offering training in traditional crafts to new settlers and the younger generation. This way, Lefkara strives to preserve and pass on its unique heritage to future generations.

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