Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates

With temperatures soaring we decided to brave the heat and take a trip in the air conditioned car to visit the Sanctuary of Apollo and to tempt us all a  cool down afterwards an ice cream and picnic on the beach.  What else  !!

Getting out of the car the hot air hit us but fortunately the wind was also blowing so it took away the direct heat and helped us to enjoy the visit walking around the archaeological site.  Not quite as big as Kourion site but long enough to spend in the direct heat in the height of the summer.

The Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates lies west of the ancient city of Kourion (which we visited earlier in the year) and is one of the most important sanctuaries of ancient Cyprus.

Apollo Hylates was considered God of the Forest and was the protector of Kourion and is believed to have been worshiped in the area since the 8th century BC. – in the 4th century AD.

This sanctuary was built in the Copper Age and was destroyed in 365 AD due to a strong earthquake in the area which also destroyed the ancient city of Kourion.  Of course this was not the end of the Sanctuary of Apollo as much of it was rebuilt again.

Today’s ruins date back to the 1st century AD. The site of the sanctuary is a palaestra (a wrestling school or gymnasium), a gallery, a treasury, the baths, the Archaic mosque, the circular monument, the central courtyard and the temple of Apollo.

The Baths

In the southeastern part of the sanctuary is the palaestra, a central courtyard surrounded by colonnades, which was the place where the athletes practiced. In the sanctuary there are also Roman baths. Both the baths and the palaestra are outside the main sanctuary.

The majority of the monuments, as they are today, belong to the restoration that took place in the temple in the 1st century A.D. and consist of the Temple of Apollo, the pilgrimage halls, the palaestra, a bath complex and the sacred enclosure.

 

Have a look at the attached YouTube video to get an idea of the size of the area.

Definitely worth a visit.  If you haven’t had enough history just further along sits The Stadium.  Kourion Stadium is the only ancient stadium found in Cyprus and dates back to the 2nd century,  the stadium had a capacity for 6.000 spectators and was the site of pentathlon events in ancient times.

 

And of course to top it all a visit to Kourion Beach for our picnic

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Omodos a Traditional Cypriot Village

Omodos is a traditional village in the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus. It is located in the Limassol District of Cyprus and is about 80 kilometres from the city of Nicosia and a big favourite with many people including our friends.

On arrival you will find that Omodos is car free village (except for local traffic) and on arrival you are directed to a car park when you can park your car and then walk to the the village.  The narrow roads to the village square have lots of small shops selling different Cypriot products.  Be careful when walking around the village and it is definitely worthwhile taking / wearing flat shoes otherwise you may find yourself on the ground.  The square has really small cobbles and none are flat and some are missing.

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Omodos Village Square with its restaurants and shops

On the lanes off the square there craft shops where you can purchase ornaments, paintings, lace tablecloths  and jewellery to name but a few items.  In someof the shops you may be lucky enough to watch the artists are work producing some beautiful works of art.

The village produces a lot of wine and holds a wine festival every August.  It is even possible to taste some of the local wines prior to making a purchase.  There were too many to choose from however, we opted for a lovely crisp dry white wine and a beautiful bottle of red wine from the local winery.  Some nibbles were also provided.

Once you have had lunch and wandered round the shops and spent some of your euros you may wish to visit the 17th century monastery  Timios Stavros Monastery also known as the Church of the Holy Cross  via a cobblestone path….

There are several legends behind the emergence of this monastery. One of them describes a miracle working cross being discovered in a local cave by the ancient inhabitants of Kupetra — a village that existed before Omodos.  In another legend, Queen Elena, who was traveling from Jerusalem with the True Cross and had to wait out a storm in a small harbor in Cyprus, had a divine vision. She saw the Cross hovering over the mountain — a vision that convinced her to found the Stavrovouni Monastery. Some of the other monasteries on the island also emerged thanks to her and each one of them had received a piece of the True Cross, as the legend has it. One way or another, a piece of the Cross was gifted to the Timios Stavros Monastery by Queen Elena during her visit and became the monastery’s main relic.

It is alleged that the monastery and the village of Omodos were founded following the construction of a small church in 210. The monastery’s current appearance dates back to 1816. In mid 19thcentury the ancient Byzantine church was completely reconstructed and replaced by a massive three-nave basilica.

What more could you wish for on a day out…..great company, sunshine, lunch, shopping and some history…..what’s not to like.  It’s easy to get there and you can take in some of Cyprus’ beautiful coastline heading towards Limassol before you turn left to venture up towards the Troodos Mountains.

 

Cyprus and the Med

Who can resist the opportunity to sit at the waters edge watching the sea whether it be on a good day or a bad day.  The sea seems to hypnotise us and draw us into its many secrets.

The Mediterranean Sea is so amazing whether like a sheet of glass where we can see the reflection of the land in it or when it is wild and the waves are bounding towards the shore and the land beyond!

Cyprus has its share of rough seas as well as the calm seas that we all know and love when we go into the water to cool down in the summer.  The sea of course in the winter is equally amazing – some days huge waves and others like glass.  The temperature in the sea hardly ever changes even if the air temperature is cooler as it is such a large expanse of water.

Today was one of these days where it had been a wild stormy night and the the following morning the sea was wild. 

As we drove our car along the coastal road the wild sea spray was blowing across the road making it look like a dust cloud.  Not a day to put your car window down as you pass…. img_4342

Wind surfers, Kite surfers and all those that love the water on these wild windy days get to the beach to have fun 

Who can resist a wild day at the sea in Cyprus

Some facts about the Mediterranean Sea which may be of interest:-

  • The Mediterranean Sea is connected to the Atlantic Ocean, and is surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land.
  • It covers an approximate area of 965,000 Square Miles
  • It has an average depth of 4,900 feet
  • The sea is bordered on the north by Europe, the east by Asia, and in the south by Africa.
  • The sea was once an important route for merchants and travellers of ancient times allowing for trade and cultural exchange between emergent people of these regions
  • The countries surrounding the Mediterranean are :-
    • Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel,  Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco.   Malta and Cyprus are island countries surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea.   In addition, the Gaza Strip and the British Overseas Territories (remnants of the British Empire) include Gibraltar.  
    • Akrotiri and Dhekelia are also part of the British Empire and based on British Sovereign soil in Cyprus.  Their coastline of course is on the Mediterranean.

View of the Mediterranean from Cyprus on calm days

Why not come and see for yourself there is much more to see than a few pictures

“Abandoned” Vretsia Village

Phill has always been keen to learn about the history of Cyprus and is constantly trying to find out more about the country we now call home.  From the Turkish invasion to current day affairs.

This Sunday morning trip for us was to find one of the many deserted villages which can be found around Cyprus.  We were off to find Vretsia up in the hills around 30 miles from Paphos.  Couldn’t wait as it was a beautiful sunny day and after the rain we have had everything is turning a lush green in the fields and hills beyond.  

Route to Vretsia from Coral Bay

Vretsia or Vrecha (called by the villagers) is a village located on the southwestern foothills of the Troodos mountain range, five kilometres southeast of Panayia Khrysorryiatissa monastery and three kilometres northeast of Kilinia. Vrecha means “getting wet” in Cypriot Greek.  In 1958 Turkish Cypriots adopted the alternative name Dağaşan, meaning “persons who overcome the mountain.” 

Vretsia was predominantly inhabited by Turkish Cypriots from the 19th century.  Throughout the 20th century, the population of the village grew and in 1946 it was recorded that there were 396 residents.  Subsequent to this the village then began its decline and by 1960 based on the census figures had dropped to 386 and by 1982 to only 5.  The decline was mainly caused following the Turkish invasion in 1974.  The final census of the village was taken in 2001 where there was no one left living in the village.

During the war of 1974, the Turkish Cypriot Fighters of Vrecha refused to surrender their guns to Greek Cypriot forces who were trying to disarm the Turkish villages.  After a ceasefire was declared in late August of that year, many villagers took their weapons and fled over the mountains to the north, then under Turkish control. During this period, the village also became a transit area for Turkish Cypriots who were trying to get to the Turkish-controlled north through the mountains. The 160 persons who remained in Vrecha were eventually evacuated to the north under UNFICYP escort on 1 September 1975. They were resettled in many different villages in the north.  

Of course diminishing residents in the abandoned villages of Cyprus wasn’t always caused by the Turkish invasion of 1974, there were a number of other contributory factors, no work in the villages, in some locations there was mining but it too dried up.  As Cyprus is also prone to earthquakes this has also been a contributing factor as they have caused landslides causing the homes to slide and become unsafe.

We viewed the village from the winding narrow road which takes you down to the deserted village of Vretsia.

And who was there to meet us but a donkey grazing in the hillside above the village.  What a welcome

So strange looking as we drove into the village as we half expected to see people and houses lived in but alas that wasn’t to be.  All the houses were abandoned and empty.  Many had no windows, doors and in some cases missing walls and roofs.  Some contained old furniture which could have been left when the people left their homes to go over the mountains and of course couldn’t carry it.

As we drove through we came to what may have been the village centre with the mosque and the village square.  If you look really close at the top of the mosque on the minaret you can see bullet holes.

Initially I thought this was one of the small Greek Orthodox churches which can be see throughout Cyprus however, it turns out to be a memorial for a former inhabitant.  I couldn’t see any names on this visit and of course didn’t try to venture inside – maybe next trip.

There were also a number of water troughs lining the little narrow road through the village one dating back to 1950 and the others 1961

Driving around the roads through the village we were able to see the back of some of the properties.  Some of the grass looks like it is used by some of the other local villages for grazing their livestock (we did see a couple of horses and donkeys so you never know)  

Former house and swing but more recently has been used as a tavern for local hunters and visitors to the village

But of course it wouldn’t be the same if we didn’t stop for a coffee or even on this occasion Sunday lunch so after our adventure we went in search of a taverna to stop, somewhere we hadn’t been before and of course this was easy as we hadn’t been this way so we found “The Spring of Life Forever” Restaurant

Friendly staff, beautiful views, pork kebab with homemade chips and complimentary hot sponge pudding drizzled with carob sauce….what’s not to like…..

This trip certainly opened our eyes to Cyprus and realised there was much more to discover here on this beautiful island.  

For our next trip we are off to the abandoned village of Foinikas, which is located just northeast of Anarita.  This village was invaded by the massive military force of the King of England, Richard the Lionheart…….but that’s another story for another day!!

The Oleander Hawk Moth

Well here we are just over 2 years living in Cyprus and we have never come across the Oleander Hawk Moth. And guess where it was hiding? You got it!! In the Oleander.

There is lots of Oleander in Cyprus including our garden where it flowers all year round. It is a toxic plant that shouldn’t be ingested nor should the would be burned as it gives of poisonous fumes but nonetheless it is beautiful. It can also be seen planted along the roads in the central reservations heading into Paphos and to the airport.

Newly hatched oleander hawk-moth larvae are three to four millimetres in length, bright yellow, and have a black, elongated “horn” on the rear of the body. As they get older, the larvae become green to brown with a large blue-and-white eyespot near the head and a yellow “horn” on the rear.

 

 

Just before it pupates, the oleander hawk moth larva becomes browner in colour. The pupa of this species measures around 5.5 to 7.5 centimetres in length, and is light brown with black spots and a black line down the middle. 

The pupa is pale reddish or brownish white and has a wax-like appearance. It lies directly on the earth, under moss or dry leaves.

Next time you are in Cyprus be sure to search the Oleander when you see it and find the Oleander Hawk Moth.

ΨΨΨ

 

 

 

Cyprus Wine Trail…a visit to Sterna Winery…hic!!

Not to miss out on an opportunity to visit Sterna Winery in the old village of Kathikas – which is our favourite our friends Pam and Alan are here on holiday and of course you can never have too much wine in your house during the summer season in Cyprus – who can resist a lovely glass of chilled wine on a lovely evening.  So off we went to visit Savvas and his family in Kathikas who run this family business…..

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As told by Savvas ..

The tradition of wine production in the Paphos region dates far back through history, as archaeological evidence shows in the Roman mosaics of Kato Paphos where, in the house of Dionysos, Bacchus is depicted with a bunch of grapes in one hand and a wine goblet in the other.  Sterna Winery has been producing wine for many generations and is situated above ancient springs and 31 caves dating back over 3000 years, one of which is used to lay down our wine.

Upon arrival we were welcomed by Savvas who for those of you who haven’t visited is such a friendly welcoming person and we are made to feel so at home in the winery.

We  first of all visit the museum where we find all the equipment which was used over the years to prepare the ground and grow the grapes.


We next moved on to visit the caves where the wine is stored in the darkness and together with the isothermal conditions (15-16’C) maintained all year round, create the ideal conditions for ageing Sterna’s wines.  The caves as you can see from the photograph below are very low and in some cases difficult to find standing room.

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Stored wine

Now onto the wine tasting.  It is a lovely experience with Savvas providing a selection of 9 different drinks to taste from wine to port.  On the table to cleanse your palate there is a selection of nibbles to try, olives, bread, tomatoes, Sterna Olive oil mixed with oregano and lemon juice (fabulous), cheese and to finish Cypriot Delight and honey sweets – it’s like going for lunch.  Savvas or one of the family will take you on a journey through the making of the wines and how the taste of the wine changes from dry to sweet during the fermentation process, they also describe the processes used.  All very interesting too.  

Why not give it a go…..when you are visiting Cyprus it makes for a lovely outing.  And if one winery isn’t enough for you there is always the Cyprus Wine Trail wherever you may be!!

 

Where to go What to do …. It’s Sunday after all !!

Sunday is our lovely day of rest and we really enjoy it.

Sometimes it’s just a bit of pottering in the garden and sitting by the pool. Others we like to take a drive and today was one of these days !

We headed to Polis and beyond…..taking our route through Polis and along the coastal road past Argaka to Pomos to see the spectacular scenery along this quiet road which leads to Kato Pyrgos.

We then returned to Latchi and had a lovely walk along the busy harbour where boats were arriving and leaving heading to the Blue Lagoon along the coast from Latchi where the water is crystal clear and so blue.

Just outside Latchi heading towards the Baths of Aphrodite we stopped at a lovely little restaurant right on the beach for some lunch.  We once again felt like tourists so relaxed and so appreciative of the scenery around us.

We had a lovely lunch sitting here and made us truly appreciate our life in sunny Cyprus. The scenery that we had to enjoy our lunch was also beautiful.  The beaches at Latchi are so quiet with lovely crystal clear water too.

Heading home we also got to experience the beautiful scenery that Cyprus west coast has to offer.

 What’s not to love about this country!!