Cyprus

Cyprus - west coast and mountains

Swimming and amazing churches in the mountains

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Cyprus - west coast and mountains
Inserted: 05.06.2020
Author: Martin Javorský © gigaplaces.com

Cyprus has long been a very popular destination and especially the eastern area around Ayia Napa is really very crowded with crowds, mostly British and Russian tourists. We therefore decided to explore the west of the Republic of Cyprus, where, in addition to coastal resorts, there is also the Trodos mountain massif with a number of villages, where tourism is still only partially affected.

Introduction

Cyprus has long been a very popular destination and especially the eastern area around Ayia Napa is really very crowded with crowds, mostly British and Russian tourists. We therefore decided to explore the west of the Republic of Cyprus, where, in addition to coastal resorts, there is also the Trodos mountain massif with a number of villages, where tourism is still only partially affected. We start the journey at the airport in Larnaca, where we rent a car. We save, so we ordered a small car with manual transmission. This provides a unique opportunity for drivers, in addition to changing driving stereotypes, also to practice their motor skills and gradually reduce the time spent scrambling around the cab and looking for the gear lever on the opposite side of the seat :-). It seems very practical to us that all rental cars have a red license plate. This makes it easy to identify on the road cars driven by ovens who are not sure which side of the road to drive on, overtake and have no idea how to prefer. Fortunately, all major intersections are roundabouts. However, we get used to the fact that danger lurks from the right and we have to watch mainly the right mirror. We chose the surroundings of the city of Paphos, which was once the capital of Cyprus and is mythologically connected with the mythical goddess Aphrodite. The move of about 150 km was on a nice and not too full highway, so it passed us quickly. The first day we decided to explore the local famous beaches. Well, we really expected a little more, everywhere full of sunbathing people, there weren't that many of them in the water, but we still verified that we are not the right beach types. We tried to explore more beaches, but none of them amazed us, not even the famous Coral beach seemed so extraordinary. Unfortunately, we did not get to our more distant and more easily accessible Lara beach, where turtles hatch, with our toy car. Of course, we also went to the center of nearby Paphos, where, in addition to the city, we spent most of our time visiting the archeological park of Nea Paphos, which is a large site of an ancient city founded in the 4th century. BC with many really amazing multicolored mosaics. Rightly, these mosaics, describing a number of mythological stories, are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In addition to this park, the city also offers a tourist promenade along the harbor and a visit to the fortress protecting the old harbor. We were also interested in the Basilica of Hrysopolitissa surrounded by an archeological site. It is worth noting that Christian services are held here from the 4th century to the present day. The next day we spent exploring the north coast around the town of Polis. Here we could not resist the lure of tourist chases and boarded a cruise ship. The boat trip to the Blue Lagoon confirmed that there is a beautiful sea, but also that a lot of people already know about it. We had a pleasant refreshment by swimming and we went on. The cult of Aphrodite is cultivated in Cyprus and is named after her. Therefore, we could not miss a visit to the local tourist trap called Aphrodite's Bath. In this case, it is a shallow lake under a rock overgrown with mature and dense trees. The fallen leaves decompose in the pond, so even the flowing water does not prevent an unpleasant odor. Unfortunately, together with the strong shading, the place looks unattractive rather than a place where the famous goddess of beauty bathed. Also, there is no entrance fee and parking is free :-))). The benefit is that it is cool, so a walk on a forest path (as named after Aphrodite) is a pleasant change. The next day in this area we dedicated to the green heart of Cyprus – the Trodos Mountains. We were not so interested in the local villages, for time reasons we despised a wide range of various mountain treks and tastings of local wines. Instead, we drove through somewhat wild mountain roads so that we could visit the local unique Orthodox monuments. There are a total of 10 mountain churches and monasteries built between the 11th and 15th centuries, which have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1985 for their extraordinary architecture and especially the unique colorful frescoes. They are scattered throughout the area and some of them are a bit of a driver's nut, so we only managed to visit five of them during the whole day. The small church of Archangelo Michail is tucked away in the streets of the village of Pedoulas. At first glance, it looks more like a mountain barn. Upon closer inspection, we find that under the massive roof, which protects the building from snowstorms, there is also a bell tower. Fortunately, the church is open, so we don't have to find a trustee to unlock it for us. As soon as we enter the darkened interior, we are amazed. We have long admired frescoes depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments, which paint the entire interior. We continue and climb an increasingly steep path over the village of Moutollas to the church of Panagia tou Moutoula, hoping that we will have a place somewhere to turn around. This tiny stone church rises alone on a hill above the village and is adjacent to a very nice local-style cemetery. It is not only in this cemetery that we can be convinced that the trauma of the military conflict with Turkey in 1974 is still alive. A ride through the narrow winding streets of the village of Kalopanayiotis, topped by the crossing of a narrow bridge and a steep climb, will lead us to the monastery of Agios Ioannis Lambaditis. It is a relatively large complex containing three local churches, gradually built since the 11th century, as well as a museum of icons and living and teaching spaces for monks. Here we also meet a few tourists who were brought here by jeep of a local guide. He certainly knows why. It is a real pearl among these monuments. We are absolutely blown away by the frescoes that represent the true pinnacle of painting. Near the main village of the whole area of Kakopetria lies the church of Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis and it is easy to reach from a good road. The fact that it is a frequent destination for tourists is evidenced by the relatively large parking lot. Fortunately, it is now empty, so we can walk through the church and its interesting surroundings in peace. This church is relatively large by local conditions and its massive roof certainly provides good protection from winter snowstorms. The frescoes did not disappoint again, we especially admire the Virgin Mary nursing Santa Claus, the Crucifixion, the Nativity and the Myrrh Carrier. The two churches of Panagia tis Podythou and Panagia Theotokou are close to each other and are usually locked and it is not easy to get the keys. Still, we try. The churches are relatively accessible because they lie on one of the main roads, but they are abandoned just outside the village of Galata. We stop and find out that the churches are locked, they say in Greek who has the keys and how to call them, but our knowledge of Greek is negligible. However, we are incredibly lucky, because after a while a bus full of Asian tourists stops on the road. They have, as is their custom, everything perfectly secured, after a while the local administrator arrives and unlocks the churches. Unfortunately, the detailed explanation in Greek and Japanese did not interest us much. The time has come and we have a long way to go through the mountains back to the coast. We saw five extraordinary buildings and in fact also galleries, which was definitely worth the travel complications. It was a busy day, but we enjoyed it. Great, the awkward trip was worth it! But we didn't have time for swimming, we just managed to catch the sunset for our evening beer. Unfortunately, tomorrow is the time to return, so the next day we leave along the coast back to the east. As part of the local Aphrodite cult, we first visit the famous Aphrodite beach, where this goddess of love, beauty and fertility was, according to legend, born from sea foam. Romiou. Not far from the sea is (Aphrodite, as usual) a rock where the goddess was to emerge from splashing water and foam. It is not without interest that she had a number of divine and earthly lovers and became a symbol of sexual love. With four gods, she fathered a total of seven illegitimate sons and one daughter. Other Greek places claim to be her place of birth, so it's not entirely certain that it was really here, but the beach is really extremely nice. In addition to a refreshing bath, it pays to take the road a little further and enjoy the view from the elevated view of the entire bay. Another stop is the extensive ancient archeological site of Kourion, which is strategically located high above the sea with magnificent sea views. The large site is dominated by ancient theater. But the Agora, the House of Gladiators and other buildings are also worth a visit. But we are already a little tired of the rubble hot by the hot Cypriot sun, so we set out to cool down quickly to the azure sea to the nearby beautiful Kourion beach. Thanks to the remoteness from the city and maybe because of the wind that lifted the waves, it's quite empty, so we really enjoy it. We have verified that the Republic of Cyprus is indeed severely affected by mass tourism. Although the western and especially the northwestern part is somewhat looser than the resorts in the east, it is difficult to find peace by the sea. Unfortunately, thanks to a significant influx of tourists, the prices of accommodation and meals have also risen significantly. The advantage of this area is the nearby mountain massif Trodos, which with its villages, mountain trails and churches is certainly a suitable way to diversify your stay by the nice warm sea.

Aphrodite's beach

Cyprus' most famous beach

Aphrodite's beach
Author: Petr Liška © gigaplaces.com

Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis

Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis is the largest and most accessible of the churches

Agios Nikolaos tis Stegis
Author: Petr Liška © gigaplaces.com

Archangelo Michail

outdoor bell tower

Archangelo Michail
Author: Petr Liška © gigaplaces.com

Archangelo Michail

frescoes in the interior

Archangelo Michail
Author: Martin Javorský © gigaplaces.com

Monastery of Agios Ioannis Lombaditis

monastery courtyard

Monastery of Agios Ioannis Lombaditis
Author: Petr Liška © gigaplaces.com
Monastery of Agios Ioannis Lombaditis
Author: Martin Javorský © gigaplaces.com

Monastery of Agios Ioannis Lombaditis

beautifully painted arches

Monastery of Agios Ioannis Lombaditis
Author: Martin Javorský © gigaplaces.com

Monastery of Agios Ioannis Lombaditis

breathtaking frescoes

Kourion - archeological site

ancient amphitheater overlooking the sea

Kourion - archeological site
Author: Petr Liška © gigaplaces.com

Kourion - archeological site

extensive excavations

Kourion - archeological site
Author: Martin Javorský © gigaplaces.com

Kourion

just below the excavations is a beautiful beach

Kourion
Author: Martin Javorský © gigaplaces.com

Blue lagoon

The lagoon is really blue, but the beautiful place is usually full of boats and bathers

Blue lagoon
Author: Martin Javorský © gigaplaces.com

Paphos - Hrysopolitissa

basilica with archeological area

Paphos - Hrysopolitissa
Author: Petr Liška © gigaplaces.com

Nea Paphos

preserved mosaics on the floor of the house

Nea Paphos
Author: Martin Javorský © gigaplaces.com

Nea Paphos

the mosaics on the floors have been preserved in good condition and are rightly admired

Nea Paphos
Author: Martin Javorský © gigaplaces.com

Panagia tis Podythou

this small church was unfortunately locked

Panagia tis Podythou
Author: Martin Javorský © gigaplaces.com

Panagia tou Moutoulas

the church is in a beautiful place above the valley and the village

Panagia tou Moutoulas
Author: Martin Javorský © gigaplaces.com

Panagia tou Moutoulas

a typical Cypriot cemetery next to the church. The grave of a war hero from the conflict with Turkey in 1974 is marked with a flag

Panagia tou Moutoulas
Author: Martin Javorský © gigaplaces.com
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