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Nestled in the east of the Mediterranean Sea is the beautiful Island of Aphrodite - Cyprus. In the south of the island is the village of Lefkara.
Cyprus, steeped in history, was part of the Byzantine Dynasty until the twelfth century when it was sold to the Templars. Their high tax regime came to an end when, on demand from the Cypriots, it was abolished by King Richard. It then became part of the Frankish Dynasty and over the centuries, was repeatedly attacked by Germany, Egypt, Ottoman and Turkey. In the late nineteenth century the British occupied Cyprus improving the local infrastructure and increasing trade opportunities by developing the port. In 1960, Cyprus declared independence.
Lefkara is located on the southern slopes of the Troodos Mountains in the Larnaca district of Cyprus. It is a small but beautiful hilltop village with cobbled streets and picturesque architecture. The village is split into two entirely separate and independent parts : Upper (Pano) and Lower (Kato) Lefkara.
Lefkara has a traumatic history, as it was the sight of two major battles. The first was between Richard I and Comnenos in the 12th century and one in 1426 between Arabs and King Janus. It was then sacked by the Venetians and many of its inhabitants were massacred. Tranquility has now been restored and Lefkara is a popular destination for day visits, but remains quiet and almost undiscovered for longer stays. It is said that time stopped over 100 years ago in the village which enjoys the cleanest non polluted air with very little humidity.
Churches are plentiful in this peaceful village. As you enter the village, you will find the country church of Archangel Michael, dating back to the 12th century. From the village's other church, Panagia Eleousa (Our Lady Showing Mercy), you will find a most spectacular view leading all the way to the shores of Larnaca. There is a further church at Pano Lefkara; the Church of the Holy Cross, with beautiful 18th century and 13th century artifacts. A religious fair takes place September 13-14, in celebration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. The Monastery of Ayios Minas has existed since 1670. Nowadays the monastery is home to nuns who run a shop offering their own products, such as icons, fruit preserves and honey.
The village's picturesque plaza is stone-paved and there are several shops selling the traditional (silk) embroideries of Lefkara as well as various other products. There are an abundance of small alleyways, all paved with stones, where you will find many of the old traditional houses.
Lefkara is renowned for its embroidery, filigree silverware and lace making. The needlecraft and the folklore tradition of Cyprus are prevalent here, dating back to the Venetian period. The local "Lefkara lace" is hand-made by local women using Irish linen. Many of the women sit in their doorways where you can watch them practicing their trade. Rumour has it that Leonardo Da Vinci bought an Altar cloth from Lefkara, which now rests in the cathedral at Milan. Behind the Panigia Elousa stands the first Elementary School, soon to become a Museum of Needlecraft. Additionally, the beautiful House of Patsalos houses the Lace and Silverware Museum of Lefkara.
Close by you can also see the old olive-press where the village's inhabitants used to produce their olive oil in old times.
There is plenty to do in Lefkara, besides sightseeing. At the top of the Sotira Hill there is a fantastic view of Larnaca's coast with Limassol to the south and the surrounding villages as well as the Troodos Mountains to the north. This takes about one hour on foot. If you enjoy fishing, you will find two of the largest dams in Cyprus just a short distance from the village. Additionally, the Neolithic Settlement of Choirokitia, on UNESCO's world heritage list, is considered as one of the most important ancient sites in the eastern Mediterranean. It's the oldest Neolithic settlement so far discovered and dates back to about 5,800 BC.
Usually at the beginning of August, the annual Festival of Lefkara is held. Famous Cypriot and Greek artists participate in this festival. They entertain visitors and bring alive the traditions and customs of the area through folklore dances, songs and plays. In the evenings there are restaurants and coffee shops.
Unfortunately there is no public transport to Lefkara. However, car rental will give you the freedom to explore the island and there are, of course, taxis to take you to this idyllic Cypriot village.
Cyprus is a very popular tourist destination and as such, the island is extremely easy to reach. The island has two international airports and around 33 airlines offer scheduled flights. The city of Limassol is conveniently located between both airports; 77kms away from Larnaca Aiport and 67kms away from Paphos Airport.