The weather is fine, and what better way to spend it than discovering somewhere you’ve never been to before? With history coming to life around every corner here in Cyprus, it may be just the time to unleash the explorer in you and make your way to some rather quirky and fascinating sites. And My Cyprus Insider has located a few that we think you’ll be happy to discover…cameras at the ready!
1. Flasou Bridge and Watermill, Flasou Village
Not everyone is aware that watermills were once a huge deal in Cyprus. In fact, hundreds of them operated across the island in days gone by, and today, over forty of them can be found in various locations around Cyprus.
Photo credit: flasou.org
One of the most impressive can be found in the quiet village of Flasou (2km north of Evrihou). Built in the valley of the river Karkotis, the area was once home to a great number of mills on the Karkotis river banks, with millers busying themselves day in and day out, grinding cereals, producing flour and the traditional ‘pourkouri’. And while more modern machinery took over in the middle of last century, watermills such as this one provide a great glimpse into days gone by.
2. Holy Mother Georgian Monastery (Panayia Chrysogialiotissa), Gialia village
Not far from Polis Chrysohous, deep in the Paphos countryside, the village of Gialia beckons. And as you drive through quiet village roads that weave through an area blanketed in green pines, the remains of an old medieval Georgian Orthodox monastery will soon make a glorious appearance.
Known as ‘Panayia Chrysogialiotissa’ by locals, it is said to have been built way back, between 970 and 979, by Georgian King David III Kuropalates, then renovated by David IV Aghmashenebeli (1089-1125). Once a significant centre for Georgian culture in Cyprus, the ruins of this place (covered in earth and overgrown weeds) were only identified in 1981 by famous US based Georgian scholar, Vakhtang Jobadze.
A really fascinating place, the main temple of the monastery is a tri-conch domed church; the only one of its kind in Cyprus. The church interior is entirely painted, while the main layer of the monastery wall painting stands as a prime example of the highly creative painting style of the pre- Renaissance Komnenian Epoch (12th century). The monastery seems to have been destroyed numerous times by earthquakes, finally deserted in the late 16th century after Cyprus was seized by Ottomans in 1571.
3. Tower of Rigenas, Pervolia village
Did you know that there’s a whole network of Venetian watchtowers in Larnaca? And now’s your chance to set about discovering them. Constructed over 500 years ago, they acted as a warning against enemy attacks, and perhaps one of the most well maintained is the Venetian Watchtower (Tower of Rigenas) in Pervolia village, about 20 metres from Pervolia beach and not far from the Kiti Lighthouse.
The well-preserved tower is rather small but graceful; be sure to take a look the elevated entrance where you’ll spot the crest of St Mark’s Lion; the Coat of Arms of the Venetians who built it during their rule of the island. Other watchtowers in the village include one in Alaminos Village, one in Pyla village, and another in Xylophagou.
4. Kykkos Watermill, Kalopanayiotis village
Declared an ancient monument and rebovated by the Department of Antiquities in 1997, even many regular visitors to this gorgeous village in the Marathassa Valley don’t actually know about this old mill located about one kilometre from the Agios Lampadistis Monastery. Nestled amidst wild greenery on the ‘Kykkos Mill’ train, the journey towards this place is half the fun; you’ll be making your way through beautiful surrounds and an untouched natural environment.
Photo credit: Eden 2011 Cyprus: Village of Kalopanayiotis by CTO (photographer Socrates Michaelides)
Built in the 19th century to cover the needs of Kykkos monastery and the villages of Kalopanayiotis, Oikos, Moutoullas and Gerakies, this one stopped operating in the early 1950s, just like most of the island’s watermills.
5. Tower of Choirokoitia, off Nicosia- Limassol highway
Pretty much everyone knows about the round stone built houses of Choirokoitia which stand testament to the very first settlement of the island, dating way back to the 6th millennium BC. A UNESCO World Heritage site which claims pride of place on a hill some 33 kilometres outside of Larnaca, the whole area sheds great light on the history of the island, the Neolithic Era and prehistory of Cyprus.
Photo credit: www.ix-andromeda.com
With the area attracting hordes of visitors week in and week out, what many people don’t know about and rarely take time to go and see, are the remains of the Tower of Choirokoitia; the fortified castle of the area erected during the period of Frankish domination. With only a very small part of the tower remaining today, records show that the tower was in large part destroyed by the Ottomans when they invaded the island in 1570.
Photo credit: www.ix-andromeda.com