Large and rapidly developing cities make up a striking minority of all Cypriot inhabited areas. There are many more villages in the country.
Some of them are larger, others are popular as tourist destinations, still others got accustomed to modern processes and now don't expect subsidies from the cities. There are also areas from which young people leave for the cities, leaving their elderly parents and grandparents alone.
Finally, there are extinct villages, where there are no inhabitants at all. There are only empty or ruined houses, and the only island of life is the local church, where a priest visits a couple of times a year to perform a service, and a church watchman comes to light the lamps.
Today we will look at the last type of villages - abandoned by their inhabitants. Surprisingly, some villages live quite comfortably in this state of affairs.
Most successful: Fikardou
Not everyone who has been to Fikardou will be tempted to call this village abandoned, but the fact is the fact: there are officially no residents in Fikardou.
At the same time, the village is flourishing and is completely unlike a place forgotten by God and people. The fact is that since 1978 the Department of Antiquities has completely taken control of the village, creating a very high-quality and interesting ethnographic museum here. The local museum has nothing to do with the usual understanding of the word, there are no halls and exhibits, since in fact several traditional Cypriot houses were called a museum, where they recreated the village interiors, and with them the village spirit.
In addition, the local restaurant is very popular and is always full on weekends. So, coming here, do not expect to find devastation and desolation.
The village itself has a rather interesting history. The remote countryside in the mountains attracted people who were persecuted by the law in their native places. Escaping to the mountains, some of them settled in Fikardou, where they established their cruel order. According to one version, the name of the forest near the village - Macheras - comes from the word μαχαίρα ("knife") precisely because knives here were the most popular way to resolve conflicts.
The most knightley: Finikas
The Turkish Cypriot village of Finikas was abandoned in 1975, when all local residents were resettled to northern Cyprus: only one of 235 people remained. In 1982, the census recorded two residents, but since 1992 no one has lived here. Before the war, the village knew times of wealth and prosperity. Until 1975, the Turkish population numbered 70-80 families here. The village had close ties with nearby villages, and the nearby Greek Cypriots spoke Turkish so well that it was difficult to distinguish them from the Turkish Cypriots.
Photo: in-cyprus.com / Stelios Aristidou
The name of the village owes to the fact that in the Middle Ages, the headquarters of the Knights Templar was based here, then they were replaced by the Knights of St. John in 1313. The headquarters was called the "small command of the Phoenix" (Commanderie de la Fenique), which has survived to our time. The Commandership owned five Cypriot villages in the area. After Cyprus ceded to Venice, Finikas was handed over to Giorgio Cornaro, brother of the last queen of Cyprus, Catherine Cornaro. So the Venetians rewarded him for intrigues against his own sister and for helping her overthrow.
In 1982, the Cypriot authorities built the Asprokremmos Dam. In a rainy winter, it fills up and water floods the houses of the deserted village.
Most Gothic: Agios Sozomenos
The village, built on the banks of the Gialias and Alikos rivers, is located just 13 kilometers southeast of Nicosia. The measured village life continued here until the intercommunal clashes in 1964. Then, in a village with a mixed population, a neighbor took up arms against a neighbor. Conflicts and clashes broke out between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.
As a result of the policy of resettling Turkish Cypriots on the reservation, the entire non-Greek population of this village left their homes. But the Greek Cypriots did not enjoy life here for long. In 1974 the Green Line was laid near Agios Sozomenos. Fearing that the Turks might organize a new invasion of the Republic of Cyprus, all the villagers left the area.
Remains of residential buildings of a once prosperous village can be seen today, but most of the visitors are not attracted by them, but by the ruins of a Gothic temple in honor of St. Mamas, built in the 16th century.
Picturesque Gothic arches, which were exposed due to the collapse of the walls, look very beautiful at any time of the day.
The village of Alassa is passed by everyone who travels from Limassol to Troodos. Attentive travelers know that if you move from the city to the mountains, then Alassa will be on the right. The real fact is that the village was originally located on the opposite side, on the territory that today is at the bottom of the largest dam in Cyprus, the Kouris dam.
The plan of the dam was developed by the authorities of Cyprus in 1980, an artificial lake was to arise at the confluence of three rivers: Krios, Kouris and Limnatis. It was decided to move the village, which interfered with plans to create a huge water reservoir, to the east, from the valley a little higher into the mountains. They decided not to destroy the village church of St. Nicholas, but to leave it at the mercy of nature.
The dam was commissioned in 1988, and since then, every rainy winter, the church has been gradually sinking under the water. When the reservoir is full, only the dome of the bell tower sticks out on the surface. The history of the Church of St. Nicholas partly resembles the history of the famous bell tower of the Nicholas Cathedral in the Russian city of Kalyazin.
By the way, to the north of the reservoir are the ruins of a Roman villa, a thermal bath and an aqueduct discovered by scientists in 1984, shortly before the valley was flooded. Whether there are any historical monuments left at the bottom of the reservoir, we will never know.
Most Spiritual: Skouriotissa
The village of Skuriotissa emerged in the late 1930s as a settlement of miners who worked in the local copper, gold and silver mines. It was originally a mixed Greek-Turkish village, but by 1960 there were only two Turkish Cypriots out of 73 Greek Cypriots. After the events of 1974, local residents left their small homeland. The Green Line was too close, and the danger of a re-invasion was too tangible. They moved the settlement 1 kilometer inland, leaving their homes to slowly decay.
This settlement, standing close to the buffer zone, drew the attention of the church. In 2002, in the building of the former police station of the village, a skete was opened in honor of St. Seraphim of Sarov, in 2010 the construction of the church began. Archimandrite Ambrose Gorelov, a Russian-born priest, is in charge of the monastic life and construction of the temple.
Someone may say that the skete on the site of an abandoned village is a kind of "spiritual checkpoint" or a response to the tragedy of 1974, when, through the efforts of the church, or to be more precisely its individual representatives, houses and buildings left by residents again begin to participate in human life. The monastery has a small farm where grapes are grown, wine is made (you can buy it in the monastery shop), there is a small pond where fish are bred.
Most Volatile: Palia Theletra
23 kilometers north of Paphos is the village of Theletra, which is divided into two parts: the old (Palia Theletra) and the new (Nea Theletra). The old part of the village stands at the foot of the hill, and this fact became fatal for the village.
Photo: in-cyprus.com / Andreas Antoniadis
In the late 1970s, due to the danger of landslides caused by strong earthquakes, soil erosion and the impossibility of further development of the village, residents decided to move to a new place - to the top of the very hill where they lived. The government supported them in this affair and helped to found New Theletra, which was established in a safer place. By the way, no destructive landslides, which the residents feared so much, have not happened since that moment, but the danger still remains.
Most Scenic: Trozena
The Greek Cypriot village of Trozena has fallen victim to urbanization. Residents left here by 2000, leaving their native land for the sake of living in the city. All local houses are empty and abandoned, only the Church of St. George, built in 1885, is in good condition.
It is open every day, and services are held twice a year. However, the areas around Trozena attract tourists with their landscapes. An unusual waterfall is located here, which is nicknamed "paradise" (Greek "paradision"). Its unusualness is that it was formed not by a river, but by underground springs that make their way from the inside of a sheer cliff, creating a very beautiful sight in a rainy winter.
Most inconspicuous: Softades
The abandoned village of Softades is very difficult to find, but not at all due to the fact that it is hidden somewhere in a hard-to-reach area. The village is located by the road from Kiti towards Mazotos and Zigi (closer to Kiti). These are several dilapidated adobe houses abandoned by their owners, 170 Turkish Cypriots, in 1975 during the population exchange between the Republic of Cyprus and the north of the island.
The territory of the village is now occupied by a farm, here, among the ruins, goats and sheep live. Therefore, it seems to those passing by that this is an ordinary livestock farm.
The noblest: Souskiou
Located 22 km from Paphos, the village of Souskiou was part of the royal lands during the Middle Ages.
Photo meri-tis-kyprou.blogspot.com / Panikkos Louroudziatis
With the conquest of the island by the Turks, the village gradually became completely Turkish Cypriot. Its name has a rather vague etymology. In the Middle Ages, it was called Susu or Sucius, and the Turks called it Sus-köy (that is, literally "the village of Sus"). This name was gradually transformed into Souskiou.
The quietest: Melandra
Another victim of the 1975 population exchange. The name Melandra literally means "black oak" and comes from the Greek words μελανός ("black") and δρυς ("oak"). Local Turkish Cypriots called their native village Beşiktepe, which means “calm hill”. The village is located in the Paphos district, 37 kilometers from the city. In 1973, 264 people lived here, but after their resettlement to the north of the island, the village quickly turned out to be of no use to anyone. And the village is also popular due to the curious neighborhood of a Christian church and a mosque, which stand door by door.
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