Cyprus the island of Saints, Culture and Beauty
This tour will take you up in the Limassol Mountains through the most important villages to the popular destination of Troodos as follows:
- Wine producing village
- Timiou Stavrou Monastery
- Sweets made out of local fruits
- Handmade table cloths etc
- Village full of beauty and Cypriot character
Since ancient times Omothos is renowned for its superb grapes and tasty wines. According to tradition, the -of excellent quality and sweet smelling -wine Afames, which took its name from the mountain that bares the same name and is located east of the village, was the cause for the island being conquered by the inebriate Sultan Selem II so that he could have this famous wine as his own.
No visit to the picturesque wine-producing village of Omothos is complete without stopping at the Timiou Stavrou (Holy Cross) Monastery, which is considered the true pride of the local people.
The church, built in two-levels and in the shape of the Greek letter Pi, is of imposing architecture and plays a very significant role of Cyprus’s cultural heritage, being one of the oldest monasteries on the island.
A place of great ecclesiastical importance in Cyprus, it attracted pilgrims from all over the world during many centuries, and its importance was confirmed when Saint Helen presented the monastery with a section of the blood-stained rope that bound Jesus to the Holy Cross during her visit to Cyprus back in 327 AD. Many other important relics are kept in the monastery such as the skull of Apostle Phillip.
The known mediaeval winepress, found at a small distance from the Holy Cross Monastery, is evidence to the fact that production of traditional wine took place in Omothos since ancient times.
The inhabitants of Omothos, apart from growing vines and producing excellent wine and “zivania” (traditional alcoholic beverage), also handle the making of “soutzoukos” (must-stick with almonds), “palouze” (must jelly), “kkiofterka” (dried must jelly in rhomboid pieces), and “koulourka” (rusks). The “arkatena koulourka” (crunchy rusks with yeast) of Omothos are also well known and sought after throughout Cyprus. Also, genuine and of excellent taste sweets are made out of local fruits.
Home handicraft flourishes in Omothos. The village’s women, apart from the plentiful and hard work that they offer next to their husbands for the cultivation of the earth, are also occupied with handmade embroideries, making wonderful brocades, tablecloths, threaded quilts, and narrow-knit and Chantilly laces.
Omothos, built at the slope of the mountain, between verdant carpets of vines, surrounded by mountains that appear as though they were placed in a masterly layout, is one of the most picturesque villages of Cyprus. The large plaza of the village, unique in its graphic quality and size, in front of the majestic monastery of the Holy Cross, the mediaeval Winepress, the narrow alleys, and the stone-made houses all “drowned” in green lend a special beauty and charm to the village. Moreover, the village’s houses themselves present some interest as far as folkloric architecture is concerned, with the tiled roofs or terraces, the picturesque upper storeys, the paved and flowery yards with jars inside, the wooden doors and the variously decorated gateways, and the balconies and elongated rooms being the main elements.
Omothos is, perhaps, one of the few villages that keep unadulterated its old beauty and its absolutely Cypriot character.
- Popular resort
- Kaledonian Falls
Platres is one of the most popular resorts on the Troodos range. It is a favourite spot for Cypriot holiday makers who are looking for a respite from the heat of the local summers. The village is distinctive for having a permanent stream flowing through it.
The village is divided in two, Kato (lower) and Pano (upper) Platres. Kato Platres is quiet. The upper part caters to tourists; with numerous tavernas, restaurants, night spots and a Cyprus Tourism Office.
The Kaledonian Falls are just upstream, and are accessible on foot from the trout farm at the top of the village.
- Monastery of Kykkos
- Burial ground of Archbishop Makarios III
- Stunning mountain views
The Monastery of Kykkos, the richest and most lavish of the monasteries of Cyprus, is found in the region of Marathasa. It is situated on a mountain peak, at an altitude of 1318 metres northwest of Troodos. Dedicated to Panagia, it possesses one of three icons attributed to Agios Loukas the Evangelist. The icon, covered in silver gilt, is in a shrine made of tortoise shell and mother – of – pearl that stands in front of the iconostasis.
The monastery was founded sometime between the end of the 11th century and the beginning of the12th century, during the reign of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118 AD). Unfortunately the monastery burned down several times and nothing remains of the original structure.
Blessed with divine grace, Cypriot hermit Isaiah miraculously cured the emperor’s daughter of an incurable illness. As a reward, he asked for the icon of the Theotokos (Virgin Mary) kept at the imperial palace at Constantinople. Though grieved at the prospect of losing his precious treasure, the emperor sent it to Cyprus with fitting honours together with funds to pay for the construction of a monastery where the sacred relic would be kept. At the hermit’s request, the emperor’s representative in Cyprus Manuel Vutomites also endowed the monastery with three villages. As the gift was later confirmed by imperial charter, the monastery is considered to have been established by imperial decree.
The first President of the Republic of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios III, served here as a novice. At his own wish he was buried on the summit of Throni, 3 kilometres west of the monastery, and not far from his native village of Panayia. The monastery produces zivania and a variety of other alcoholic drinks and holds religious fairs on September 8th (Birth of the Virgin) and August 15th (Dormition of the Virgin).