Off the Beaten Track Lemesos
The typical villages of small stone houses that dot the area, like Sykopetra at 1.000 metres above sea level, have dwindling populations of between 11 and 500 inhabitants, as urban drift claims the young. Others, like Vikla have been almost entirely abandoned. Most of the people who remain in the villages are elderly, living on pensions. Others commute daily to Lemesos (Limassol) typically spending nine months working in the city and three on their land tending the citrus orchards such as those around the villages of Kellaki and Dierona.

Many villages have excellent examples of Byzantine churches. Prastio has a delightful old church of Panagia, making the trip to this village worthwhile. Klonari’s chapel is typical, with stone walls, a low tiled pitched roof, frescoes and a finely carved wooden iconostasis dating to the early 16th century. That of St. Photios near Eptagonia, one of the largest of the villages in the area, has excellent 17th century icons of the Virgin and Child, Christ and the Archangel Michael. The church at Arakapas is one of the few churches in Cyprus with superb Byzantine-Italian frescoes.

The village of Akapnou is associated with the legend of Rigaina, a mysterious medieval queen and, in folklore, the successor to Aphrodite. She is believed to have been a Venetian lady who lived in a feudal manor on a peak outside the village, who died when she fell off her horse while trying to escape from Saracen raiders. The church of Panagia tou Kambou situated just outside the village is also worth a stop.

Some villages are known for their handicrafts. Melini produces a particular type of embroidered lace called “meliniotika”, which was introduced to the area by the Venetians in the 16th century, while a Lefkara-type lace can also be found in Eptagonia, once also known for making ploughs and animal yokes. Local basketry was produced in Odou and a traditional type of wooden container once used for kneading dough. Sanida, meaning plank of wood, may have got its name from the long wooden board with a series of hemispheres carved out in it where bread dough is left to rise before being baked in traditional dome-shaped outdoor ovens.