Troodos Mountain Range and its Unique Villages
Most people we meet or talk to have heard of or know about the Troodos Cyprus mountain range. The majority travel to Mount Olympus, the highest point in Cyprus, touch the top and never go back again. So let us start at the bottom on the mountain and work our way up.
Pine Aromas Line the Road
One of the greatest pleasures in Cyprus, for us, is driving through the glorious countryside leading up the mountains. We made my first trip up the mountains some 30 years ago when the roads were much narrower, but the whiff of mountain pine air is unforgettable. Pine trees generate magical aromas that catch your attention whilst taking in all the spectacular views and sceneries. We normally drive from Limassol, where we live, stopping at Trimiklini, which is one of my wife's favourite villages. The views of Troodos across the valley from the village are stunning, especially at nighttime, with the village street and house lights sparkling in the distance. It is great fun working out each village location from their cluster of lights.
Wine and Wineries
Wine lovers! Having passed through Trimiklini, you should turn right for Pelendri Village where you will find, well before the village on your left, Tsiakkas Winery. Great wine and such a charming location set in the pine forest. Visit Tsiakkas Winery and meet the owner, Costas, a former banker.
Before Trimiklini are the villages of Lania on the right and Doros and Monagrion the left. Lania is a stunning village although it can become overrun with tourists. Doros and Monagri are sleepy and very traditional, but well worth browsing around. Further up the mountain you come to the village of Moniatis and then the celebrated village and hill resort of Platres with its own hospital clinic where our good friend Elli is the chief doctor. Many hotels, shops, banks and even a discothèque plus many tourist shops line the main road of this very large village. Platres has a great climate and is a retreat for locals, mainly during the hot summer months.
Then on to Mount Olympus at 6,401ft/1,946m, the highest point in Cyprus and the views are a bit special. The skiing resort dates back to the 1930s and has two ski lifts, with around 50% of the skiers being from Cyprus. On the highest point are radar ‘golf balls' used for listening in which are visible from many miles. You can be skiing on Mount Olympus and swimming in the Mediterranean on the same day. Cyprus holds great attractions for just about everyone.
From this area, you can drive to Nicosia through Kakopetria to the east, or west to Pafos through Mandria or northwest to Pyrgos passing by Kykkos monastery.
Places of Interest
Wineries: (Most Important)
Phone: +357 25991080
Ayia Mavri Winery
Kilani Village, Limassol-Cyprus
Tel.: +357 25 370777, +357 25 470225,
Fax: +357 25 365233
Vlassides Winery 4776 Kilani
Phone: +357 25471482
Phone: +357 99613362
Kykkos Monastery Winery
P.O. Box 24850
Phone: +357 22942729
Byzantine Churches in Interesting Cyprus Villages
Nine Byzantine churches in the Troodos Mountains are included in the official UNESCO World Heritage List. These are: Stavros tou Ayiasmati, Panayia tou Araka, Timiou Stavrou at Pelendri, Ayios Nicolaos tis Stegis, Panayia Podithou, Panayia tis Asinou, Ayios Ioannis Lampadistis, Panayia tou Moutoulla and Archangel Michael at Pedhoulas.
The Pitsilia area lies on the eastern slopes of the Troodos mountain range.
The Church of the transfiguration of the Saviour (tou Sotiros) is an early 16th century chapel on the hill overlooking the beautiful old villages. The church of Panayia Chrysopantanassa, built in the 16th century is the main church of the upper village.
Stavros tou Ayiasmati is a 15th century church, lying about 3km from this very pleasant old village.
Panayia tou Araka is a 12th century church standing just outside the village and has some of the finest frescoes of the late Comnenian style (c.1192) prevailing throughout Greece, the Balkans and Russia. Together with Asinou church and that of Ayios Nikolaos tis Stegis, it is considered one of the most important Byzantine churches on the island.
Timiou Starvrou, once the property of Jean de Lusignan, son of Hugh IV, Lusignan King of Cyprus. There are two interesting churches - the 14th century church of Timiou Stavrou with beautiful wall paintings and the 14th century church of Panayia Katholiki in the middle of the old village, which dates back to the early 16th century, with paintings in the Italo-Byzantine style.
The church of Ayios Nikolaos tis Stegis (St. Nicholas of the Roof) is situated at about 5km above the village and once belonged to a monastery. Its entire surface is completely painted with murals dating from the 11th to the 17th century and it is considered one of the most interesting Byzantine churches on the island. It takes its name from the steep pitched wooden roof, which was built to protect it from varying weather conditions. The small 16th century church of Panayia Theotokos, off the main road, retains about half of its murals. The church of Ayios Georghios Perachoritis, to the east of the village, has original wall paintings belonging to the first quarter of the 16th century. The old part of the village has been declared a protected area and old houses have been restored.
There are four painted churches in and around the village. The church of Ayios Sozomenos dates from the early 16th century and retains a complete series of frescoes in the post-Byzantine style. The church of the Archangel Michael or Panayia Theotokos is a timber-roofed chapel just below the village and it is completely painted in the post-Byzantine style of the early 16th century. Nearby is the larger church of Panayia Podithou that once belonged to a monastery. It was erected in 1502 and its paintings are in the Italo-Byzantine style. The small church of Ayia Paraskevi on the old Kakopetria-Galata road has paintings from 1514. The old inn, the Hani Kallianon, which has been restored, is an interesting example of rural architecture.
The village is famous for its sulphur springs and the famous church of Ayios Ioannis Lampadistis with excellent frescoes of the 13th and 15th centuries. Originally a monastery, it is a complex of several buildings of various dates. One of the biggest religious fairs in the valley is held here on 4 October, St. John's day.
Pedhoulas is a summer resort famous for its cherries. The painted church of Archangel Michael stands in the lower part of the village and dates from 1474.
The most famous and richest monastery in Cyprus was founded in 1100 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, it possesses one of the three surviving icons ascribed to St. Luke. The icon, covered in silver gilt and enclosed in a shrine of tortoiseshell and mother-of-pearl, stands at the front of the iconostasis.