EXPLORING NICOSIA COUNTRYSIDE – HILLY AREAS
Hilly areas south of Nicosia.
Route: Tseri, Lapatsa, Marki, Kotsiatis, Agia Varvara, Mathiatis,
Its proximity to Nicosia and the settling of refugees in the village contributed to the increase of population and the generation of all types of services, transforming Tseri into a suburb of Nicosia. Lapatsa. About 11km south-west of Nicosia, between Tseri and Deftera, lies the athletic center of Lapatsa with all modern installations and facilities. Horse-riding, swimming, tennis, squash and aerobics are among the sports offered, all tied up with sauna facilities, a restaurant, a cafeteria, a snack bar and a guest-house.
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Marki archaeological site.
Marki is currently inhabited by a few refugee Maronite families mainly engaged in animal raising and dry farming.
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The Australian Archaeological Expedition is carrying excavations in the village, on the bank of Alykos stream, in the locality “Alonia”, where an early Bronze age settlement (2000-1900 B.C. ) has been unearthed. Most probably the same settlement was extending to 2-3 other sites in the same locality. According to the findings, the inhabitants of the settlement were raising goats and oxen and were cultivating olive-trees, vines and other plants. Kotsiatis, currently inhabited by refugees from the Maronite villages of Cyprus is mainly pursuing stock-breeding activities. Archaeological excavations have unearthed Early Bronze Age findings. Agia Varvara. Its proximity to Nicosia, the development of some light industrial enterprises and the Secondary School built in the village as well as some services hold the population to the village. In Agia Varvara lie a number of churches and chapels. Mathiatis is a well-known mine, dating, most probably, back to the Roman times. Two wounds on the landscape with deep hollows of enormous dimensions testify the mining of copper pyrite. They are known as the mines of North and South Mathiatis. Recent mining started in 193638, was later interrupted in order to restart again in 1965 until recently. Currently, no mining is carried out. The church of Agia Paraskevi, building of the 18th century, and the church of Panagia Galaktotrofousa, on the periphery of the settlement, of the early 18th century, are worth seeing. In 1878, a camp was set up here for the British troops who landed in Cyprus. The only memorial remaining is a small churchyard with a few graves. Besides, at Mathiatis the Seismological Station of Cyprus has been set up in 1984, recording earthquakes and tremors from both the geographical area of Cyprus and the neighbouring countries. Sia. Scoriae and other mine waste are abundant in the village, a testimony that in ancient times copper was processed in the village. Apart from the church of Panagia, a building of 1886, in the village stands the chapel of Agia Eleni with the holy well, while close by on a terebinth tree people hang personal cloth belongings. Close to the village, in a ruined condition, lies a curious building with several small plastered chambers and a complicated system of pipes, which might be a Turkish bathhouse.
Archaeological site, Alampra.
Alampra. In the middle of the village stands the church of Agia Marina, edifice of 1837, restored in 1954. According to tradition, a fire broke out in the forest surrounding the village, many centuries ago, and the inhabitants gathered in the church of Agia Marina praying to God. Suddenly a maiden came out of the church and directed her steps to the fire when immediately it was put out. The name of the village derives from fire. Alampra is mentioned as sacred place by a plaque found in the nearby ancient kingdom of Idalion. Besides, a Middle Bronze Age settlement has been unearthed on the locality of Mouttes, on the slope of the hill, northeast of the village. Many of the findings are housed in the Metropolitan Museum of New York as well as in other museums abroad. According to the archaeologists, the life of the settlement does not exceed a century. The connection of the settlement with copper mining was confirmed by research which brought to light furnaces of copper processing in a neighbouring area.
Route: Kampia, Kapedes, Mandra tou Kampiou, Kataliontas,
Analiontas, Monastery of Archangelos Michail, Lythrodontas,
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Kampia is a relatively new settlement, the original lying ruined to the west, with the 17th century old church of Agios Georgios still preserving a few paintings. The inhabitants will show the visitor the ruined house of Archbishop Kyprianos, whose mother was born in Kampia. Kampia is a mining settlement. One of its copper/iron pyrite mines at Kokkinonera was functioning between 1952 and 1960, while that at Peristerka functioned between 1969 and 1977. At a small distance from Kampia, an impressive monastery for nuns can be found. Kapedes is slowly being transformed into a dormitory settlement for people of Nicosia. Tavernas, restaurants and recreational centers are constantly increasing. Copper was mined in the area since the prehistoric or early historic times. Mandra tou Kampiou is a picnic site on the way to Machairas, a few kilometres from Kapedes. It offers all amenities including barbecue. Kataliontas is currently abandoned. The village is the site of a Neolithic settlement with a mixed economy based on hunting and industrial activity.
Monastery of Archangelos Michail, Analiontas.
Analiontas most probably dates from the Roman times. Many tombs and tombstones have been found in the village. The church of Agia Marina most probably dates from the 18th century. On a hill within the administrative boundaries of Analiontas, stands like a castle, the monastery of Archangelos Michail, built with local building material. It was at some time, a very rich monastery, while currently its property consists of a few hectares of land close to the monastery. The church was restored from foundations in 1769, again in 1920 and very recently after 1974. Archangelos Michail is presented on a large icon as a Byzantine commander in chief. Fifteen small icons around the main icon refer to fifteen miracles of the Saint. Apart from the gilted iconostasis, a number of paintings impress the visitor, like that of Sts Constantine and Helena, St Dimitrios, St Nestoras, St Thekla, St Marina and St Varvara. Lythrodontas at the north foothills of Machairas, is rich in natural vegetation, particularly of pine-trees. Most probably the largest number of olive-trees in Cyprus is found at Lythrodontas. Profitis Ilias on the forested slopes of Machairas, is a picnic site with all amenities including tracks for nature exploration. Close by is the old monastery of Profitis Ilias with two buildings: the old arched, two-storeyed building used as store house and as monastic cells and the restored, with local building stone, church of Profitis Ilias.
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Villages north of Adelfoi Forest.
Route: Agrokipia, Monastery of Agios Panteleimon, Mitsero, Agioi Iliofotoi.
Agrokipia with its impressive church of Panagia Chrysopantanassa, the aloe tropical plants growing on the bed of the streams and the mine-wastes, no longer relies on the mining of gold and chalcopyrite. An asphalted road from Agrokipia leads to the Monastery of Agios Panteleimon, standing on the northern slopes of Kreatos hill, with a broad view to the north. Rectangular in shape with the church to the south and the cells to the north, the monastery is, since 1970, hosting nuns, though, as the Russian monk, Basil Barsky, writes, in the middle of the 18th century it was inhabited by four monks. It is not known when it was first founded, though an inscription testifies that it was restored in 1770. The iconostasis, painted in 1774, is an extremely good example of gilding and wood-carving. The icons date back to the 18th century, while the icon of St Panteleimon is covered with silver gilt repousse and is dated 1792. The nuns are engaged in gardening and sweet-making. Mitsero for centuries has been a mining settlement with heaps of mine waste and large empty hollows still present on its landscape. The old plant for crushing and sorting the copper and iron pyrites is currently used for lime production. Agioi Iliofotoi is an abandoned settlement with ruined buildings. The church of Agioi Iliofotoi dates from the 17th century.
Journeying along the Tillyria area.
Route: Pachyammos, Kokkina, Alevga, Selladi tou Appi, Agio Georgoudi, Mosfileri, Mansoura, Agios Theodoros, Chaleri,
Pigenia, Kato Pyrgos, Pano Pyrgos, Frodisia.
Tillyria region, for years isolated and almost forgotten, is very distinctive. With the exception of tiny coastal plains, the region, as a whole, is hilly or mountainous, rugged, barren and without natural resources. According to tradition, the inhabitants of Tillyria came from Telos, in the early Christian times, after a serious and continued drought experienced in Cyprus, and they gave their name to the region. Tillyria area, though lying in Nicosia district, is better to be visited from Pafos following the Polis-Pomos route.