Head up the foothills of the Troodos Mountains that rise above the seaside town of Limassol and a paradisaical setting awaits: slopes of shimmering green with vineyards that bask in the sun’s rays, cobbled buildings that tell tales of days gone by, dirt roads that lead to the most gorgeous nature trails weaving their way through countryside begging to be explored, and quaint museums shedding light on the area’s glorious winemaking history.
My Cyprus Insider now takes you on a journey through some of the most beautiful winemaking villages that you absolutely have to visit.
Few villages in Cyprus take you on a journey back in time in such a magical way as Lofou. With the entire area believed to have been inhabited since the Bronze Age, it endured a slow abandonment in the mid-20th century, as many locals moved in search of work in main towns (much like what happened in most of the areas’ winegrowing villages.)
The place is now home to no more than 40 inhabitants and makes for a brilliantly peaceful day out. With the old village school standing as a central focal point, the area around the school gives way to a web of narrow streets, punctuated by restored traditional stone village houses adorned with sturdy wooden balconies. As you walk through the maze, be sure to stop by the nearby Folk Art Museum; a tiny little place which hosts a private collection of treasures.
When you reach the village church of Panagia Chrysolofitissa, built in the 19th century and characterised by an imposing bell tower, take note of the small sculptures at the gate of the church where stone lions call out to greet visitors. Then enjoy the splendours of the natural environment with a trek along the Lofou walking trail towards Sylikou village.
Another pretty village characterised by cobblestone alleys and traditional houses; take time to ogle at the glorious wooden doors, intricate balconies and gorgeous courtyards (many of the locals are happy to have a chat and you may even get the chance to have a look around one of the lovely gardens so beautifully tended to by the area’s inhabitants).
Be sure to pop into the byzantine and folk art museum and do have a look at the old village olive mill. That’s not to forget the lovely old water fountains of the village where village folk used to congregate to take water back home with them. Like most of the areas’ villages, there are also some great nature trails where you can put your best foot forward and make the most of the natural world, while the designated wine route 4 will give you plenty to take in.
If you’re looking for traditional village produce, Omodos is a richly fruitful village that has it all; from Zivania and wine, to soujoukos and palouze- all made locally and can be found in the many charming little shops that line the narrow cobbled streets. That’s not to forget the gorgeous handmade lace that the women of the village are so very passionate about.
At the epicentre of the island’s winegrowing district, its tourist appeal has ensured that the village and its medieval stone buildings, museums and churches are all very well looked after and maintained. The village is built around the rather majestic Monastery of the Holy Cross; a building which stands as the true pride and joy of Omodos and one of the oldest and most historic monasteries on the island.
The large central square is dotted with cafes, restaurants and shops selling a whole manner of traditional goods. But it’s when you meander through the narrow streets that the real charm of the place springs to life, with traditional houses characterised by sturdy wooden balconies packed with flower pots attracting the gaze of visitors all year round as elderly women busy themselves with intricate lacework.
Close to the west bank of the river Kryos (Cold River), this picturesque little village is yet another rural gem with narrow alleyways, dotted with houses topped with terracotta tiled rooves, intricate balconies and gorgeous archways so very quietly telling tales of bygone days.
Keep your eyes peeled for the traditional earthenware jars that decorate a number of gardens, while some old houses still keep equipment for distilling wine and zivania! Nature lovers will be happy to stumble across one of the biggest plane trees of the island which provides shade for the village chapel of Ayia Mavri. Step inside and you’ll also catch a glimpse of some lovely murals. Then there’s the olive mill, and the ecclesiastical museum to have a mosey round.
Hands down one of the biggest wine producing villages on the island, this village is in a prime location on the slopes of the Laona mountain, some 1092 metres above sea level. Stop to take it all in and you’ll be able to enjoy views out to the Paphos sea. Famous since antiquity for its great wine – once considered to make the very best wine produced on the island – many villagers continue to busy themselves with wine production here. There are also plenty of villagers who have earned quite a reputation for dishes made from wine, including palouzes, epsima, sujuko and other tasty delights.
As you explore the village, be sure to take in its religious heritage and pop into the 13th century church of Apostole Filippos, as well as the chapel of Ayia Mariamni. Then there’s the icon museum and folk art museum to enjoy, while nature lovers will be in for a treat with the areas nature trails. Love wine? Then follow the designated wine routes of the area: wine route no. 3 (Diarizos Valley – Paphos Region) and no. 4 (wine villages – Limassol). And if you fancy a little adventure, the gorgeous Medieval Tzelefos bridge isn’t too far away!