Judging by the ever-busy Rodon Hotel, Agros is a favourite destination for Cypriots and foreigners alike. But what is so different from other mountain villages, which are struggling to fill their hotels during most months of the year?
It is probably a combination of factors.
For one, there is the hotel itself which offers a range of indoor and outdoor facilities at reasonable rates, plus – arguably more important for many of its Cypriot guests – there is music and dancing late into the night, especially at weekends.
Though some of these guests may love nature only enough to drive to the hotel, chat in the lobby and dance the night away to the hotel’s band, there is also real nature to explore, in the form of three nature trails starting at the outskirts of the village, to Madari, Lagoudhera and Kato Milos.
For those who don’t want to eat in a hotel, there are also a number of restaurants nearby. To get from one end to the village to the other, the community has done what it can to construct pavements for walking, at least where the roads are not too narrow. In other places, benches have been placed so visitors can rest and admire the view.
While much of this may be true for other villages, there are a number of other things that make Agros special.
The famous Agros rose factory is an obvious attraction. Famous for its rose water, it also produces a wide range of other rose-based products from cosmetics and candles to toothpaste.
At Niki’s sweet factory, visitors get the chance to tour the premises, watching how the sweets are being made by local women.
Other produce are sausages, hiromeri and lountza, all smoked and marinated in a way special to the area. These can all be found in the local shops. At a café at the entrance of the village, ‘To Bakaliko tou Chapsi’ or ‘Chapsi’s grocery’ visitors can choose from 26 types of herbal teas, all ‘from the mountains of Agros’.
Varieties include cherry stalk which is said to be a detoxifier, geranium, rich in vitamin A and C, and black walnut leaves, good for bone diseases as they contain calcium.
The village is also known for its churches, the most important of which are Virgin Mary Elousa and Timiou Prodromou. In 1930, the olive-mill of the parish of Pera Geitonia was transferred from the underground floor of the all-girls school to the traditional building where it is housed today, next to the church of Timiou Prodromou.
This manually-operated system, with which olive producers would get their olive-oil, and the objects and tools together nowadays form a small popular art museum.
The community council is reaching out to show the village’s attractions to as many people as possible.
“We have an event every two to three months, we want people to get to know us, we have nine restaurants, and different products,” head of the council Michalis Constantinides said.
Could other villages learn from Agros? It remains to be seen, when the government finally comes up with its strategic plan to save the mountain villages, something that is supposed to happen in the new year.