Make your way towards Troodos, and as the rugged mountain tops beckon, be sure not to forget about the lovely villages dotted across the Solea Valley. It’s the place where elderly folk congregate outside their homes to sell glorious spoon sweets, where people from across the country love to tuck into fresh trout served with lashings of olive oil and lemon, where traditional architecture reigns supreme as old mills tell tales of a great breadmaking past, and where UNESCO heritage Byzantine churches have glorious tales to tell about days gone by.
We highlight three of the most beautiful villages that we know will delight you and some wonderful things to do and see in each one!
The most popular village in the Solea Valley, it’s certainly not hard to see why. Especially when you head up towards the heart of the old village with its cobbled streets, beautifully restored houses and the incessant gurgle of the Karkotis river heard loud and clear. And before you know it, you’ll be ‘ooohing’ and ‘ahhhing’ at the lovely old architecture: gorgeous wooden beams, terracotta tiled roofs, beautiful balconies, and village folk calling out to greet you every step of the way.
Head down to the Linos Museum housed in a building on Old Kakopetria Street and you’ll find a section dedicated to wine, bread and olive oil. Then there’s the Olive Mill Museum, housed in the garden of the Church of Soteros that’s definitely well worth a looksee.
And if you want to gaze at some glorious wall paintings, head to the small 16th century churches of Panagia Theotokos and Agios Georgios Perachoritis, with about half of their original wall paintings intact. But one of the most glorious sites of all is found just outside the village; the glorious UNESCO heritage Ayios Nikolaos tis Stegis (St. Nicholas of the Roof), regarded one of the most important Byzantine churches on the island. Set in a lovely garden and surrounded by greenery, step inside to catch a glimpse of glorious paintings dating from the 11th to the 17th centuries.
Byzantine churches befriend houses with glorious balconies. Welcome to Galata! Just a stone’s throw from Kakopetria, this lovely village is well known for its graceful houses, one more graceful and beautiful than the next. With particularly impressive wooden balconies characterising the old traditional homes, you can find out more about the old village way of life and the village household from the beginning of the century onwards at the Galata Museum of Folkloric Art where tools used by farmers, shoemakers and silk breeders sit side by side old sewing machines, cast iron beds and more.
Go for a walk around the village and you may like to pop into a few of the painted churches in and around Galata village. For some UNESCO Heritage, make a beeline for the church of Panagia Podithou, built way back in 1502. Then there’s the church of Archangelos Michael, painted in the early 16th century in Byzantine Style, as well as the church of Ayios Sozomenos which stands proud in the old village, with a complete series of frescoes in the post-Byzantine style.
And we mustn’t forget the gorgeous Rodou Mill with its two imposing arches, set away in the ‘Archangel Rodou’s Mill’ nature trail. The trail begins from the ‘Archangelos’ church and ends at the Rodou Mill, covering a distance of about 1 kilometre. With the trail the running by the river Klarios, when it rains you’ll soon see the river flow in all its glory, amid wonderfully rich vegetation.
In the agricultural centre of the Solea district, the green landscape which surrounds Evryhou is dotted with small streams that run down the slopes towards the Kargotis Valley. Famous for its apple production, the old water mills of the village call out for attention; an excellent example of folk architecture. That’s not to forget the old houses made of local stone, capped with tiled roofs and accentuated by wooden balconies calling out for attention.
Nowadays, the village has attracted plenty of attention because of its Railways Museum providing insight into the now defunct Cyprus railway system, housed in an old railway station. The only museum of its kind on the island, you’ll be able to take a good look at original documents, drawings, photos and various objects related to the old railway, as well as scale models of the main stations and rolling stock. What’s great is that everything on show is accompanied by plenty of information in both Greek and English, really giving visitors insight into the ins and outs of how the railway functioned in times past.