Profitis Ilias Church – Ayia Napa
As well as walking throughout Cyprus this last week it was wonderful to get a taste of the local life, history and buildings in and between. Away from the resorts and beaches, up in the mountains or out in the countryside you can get a real sense of the real Cyprus. Throughout the days we had wandered from the far West of the island to the East. Traditional mountainside villages, whole villages dating back centuries kept as they were and ancient churches/monasteries line the route. Before I show you some more fantastic hiking trails and nature in the next posts I just want to show you some of these insights.
Paphos was the starting point in the West. A perfect destination and a perfect view to wake to at the Athena Beach Hotel. A morning wander to the beach will set you up more than adequate for a great day ahead.
Staying near Paphos at Pegaias you can find perfect sea views, buildings along the coast stand alone with super views for example at the church of Agios Georgios overlooking the rocky harbour.
Travelling through small villages and towns you feel the slow and gentle way of life, with many a tavern or coffee shop full of locals calmly taking life and the warmth in its stride and enjoying obviously thoughtful conversation. Always giving a welcome smile to all whom enter.
Religious buildings play a large part in the islands culture, history and architectural decoration. If religious history is something you are looking for on a trip then Cyprus is a must. Many churches like the one below decorated with religious images guiding you in. The two pictures below that shows the entrance to and courtyard view of Kykkos Monastery, once one of the wealthiest in the whole island.
Speaking of religious paintings, below is the Agios Ioannis Lampadistis church (St John Lampadistis) at the mountain village of Kalopanayiotis, one of ten UNESCO churches in Cyprus. Inside (no photos allowed) the stone walls are full of paintings. From a time way back as far as the 11th century where literacy was not as common. Fascinating to see, the Bible is told in pictorial form throughout almost in comic book style.
Up in the mountains, high in the Troodos range where snow lays on the slopes you can find little bustling squares lined with shops and cafes. A particular favourite at Troodos Square (one of the highest points in Cyprus) was offering nuts in all colours and varieties, caramelised, choclatey, salty, plain, herbed and more.. Of course there was the local brew, Zivania, fondly called ‘fire water’ to help warm the throat and appetite. Strong yet very moreish
If you want to step back in time and see Cyprus as it was hundreds of years ago then a must visit is Fikardou, a very rural and authentic place. Homes over 500 years old, cobbled floors and narrow streets. Explore via the rural museum and see this intriguing place. To see so much in its original state is extremely rare yet so well preserved.