Well it all started out with a local drive and a trip round Paphos to see what was going on in town however, as we got further along through Paphos to Geriskipou Beach and beyond we decided we would go and find the abandoned village of Foinikas. If you have read previous my previous blog “Abandoned” Vretsia Village we did try to get to it but without success due to the weather.
We followed the signs through Timi and beyond to see the turning for Foinikas and followed the road. Not sure what happened but we got to the end of the road and although we could see Foinikas in the distance we couldn’t get there. We weren’t sure if this was because the water is high in the reservoir of if this wasn’t the way to go but instead come in from the north of the village instead of the middle.
End of the Road
Foinikas in the distance
So away we went again and headed north to Choletria to follow the dried river leading to the Asprokremmos Reservoir. In the summer months the river is dry and it is possible to have a 3km bumpy ride along the dried riverbed to Foinikas. I think my body became detached from my head at that point.
After doing some research on the village of Foinikas I discovered that it was supposedly founded by the Knights Templar in the 12th century after the island was invaded by King Richard the Lionheart.
For many years, it was home to Turkish Cypriots. However, following the 1974 coup d’état and subsequent Turkish invasion this caused everyone to flee. Afterwards the government resettled displaced Greek Cypriots in the village.
Of course everything changed again when the government decided to build Asprokremmos Reservoir rendering it unsafe to live in the village and once
again all residents had to leave.
The building of the reservoir started in 1976 shortly after the Turkish Invasion and was finished in 1982. You can see from the photographs that houses are in the water when when the reservoir is full. In the wet months the village would have been cut off from civilisation as there was no road in or out only the river bed to drive along.
Now, the village is a ghost town.
Old stone houses and slightly newer, more modern models alike erode and decay. The weathered buildings stand like sad, forgotten memorials to the people who once called the settlement home.
It was definitely a worthwhile trip out and look forward to the next visit.
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.
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!!
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.
Argaka Beach Restaurant
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.
I could have closed my eyes and been transported back to the west coast of Scotland on one of its few sunny summer days, I couldn’t believe the view, the greenery and the mountains it was like being home in Scotland, but instead it was Cyprus!! I think it took me back to my camping days (long time ago) in Skye
Our drive took us to the Asprokremos Reservoir near Kouklia. We had been talking about going for a drive there for a few weeks so that we could see how much water was in the reservoir. We also wanted to compare the reservoir from our previous visit in December 2016 to see if the water levels were higher ALAS not.
We have seen a few dams on our travels around the island in the last year but didn’t realise that there were actually 108 dams and reservoirs in Cyprus and we have only ever stopped at two!! Asprokremos and Mavrokolympos near Coral Bay.
February 2018 – Water Levels Lower
After taking photographs of the reservoir we headed towards the Troodos Mountains through Choletria and then to Nata.
As we headed towards Nata we couldn’t believe how green it was who could believe that we were in Cyprus and also that Cyprus could ever be so green but of course we do get some rain in the cooler seasons and everything starts to grow again, the fields turn green as the grass grows and all around looks beautiful, buds on the trees and flowers opening up and most importantly the grass is green instead of the burnt out dried landscape that we tend to see in the summer months when the temperatures soar. Nonetheless the weather in the cooler season is still lovely with temperatures reaching an average of 18 degrees most days and Phill is living proof that it is warm as he lives in shorts daily from morning until night 7 days a week.
Our drive through Anarita and down to Timi was very interesting – passing goats, sheep and goat herders on the narrow roads. We even crossed a bridge where the river flowed under it towards the reservoir. At this time of year when the snow is on the Troodos Mountains there is quite a lot of water running down the hills from Mount Olympus.
What an amazing view!!
Once again we made our way to the Asprokremos Dam to find out what had been happening to the dams following all the rainfall but still not enough to fill this dam. As you can see