In the foothills of Machairas, one village has it all, finds PAUL LAMBIS. So much so the young people chose to stay
The most beautiful things are, as they say, always hidden. While travelling to the historic Machairas monastery in the Nicosia district, I came across the picturesque village of Lythrodontas, and was surprised by its natural beauty and rich history.
Winter is my favourite season as the cold weather ushers in feelings of warmth, love, and connection, and the holiday season delivers large family meals, cosy taverns, pubs and mountain retreats, festive activities, and winter walks. It also just seems like time moves a little slower than usual.
As soon as December rolls in, occasional rains bring nature back to life, rivers flow and streams begin to carve and shape the landscape, and flowers begin to emerge on rocks, steep hillsides and streambanks.
And at this time of year, Lythrodontas earns a spot on my list of the best places to visit in Cyprus due to its outstanding natural beauty.
The green colour of the olive trees blends with the pine-clad foothills of the mountains of Machairas. The overwhelming amount of olive trees indicates that this village takes centre stage when it comes to the production of olive oil.
“The village’s residents have been engaged in the cultivation of olive trees and the production of olive oil since antiquity,” president of the Nicosia Tourism Board, Theodoros Kringou said. “One can find ancient olive trees in the olive groves, some of which may even be older than a thousand years.”
While the olive trees form the backdrop, the village of Lythrodontas also produces a wide variety of fruit, including apples, figs, plums, peaches, and pears, and s also home to two sizable dams that help in the cultivation of the land.
Lythrodontas is believed to have been established during the Byzantine era, although rich historical findings date its origins as far back as the Hellenistic period. It was a fief under Frankish and Venetian rules and is referred to as ‘Litrodondi’ on old maps.
Lythrodontas is approximately 30 kilometres outside of Nicosia. “The village is believed to have taken its name from its first resident ‘Erythrodontas’ – which in Greek means ‘the one with red teeth’,” Kringou told Living.
“In addition to taking in the area’s stunning scenery, visitors can also stop by the restored historic flour mill and olive mill, which offer a glimpse into the old customs of the village,” he added.
Like most regions in Cyprus, nature trails are a great way to explore villages and get in touch with nature. Lythrodontas is a well-preserved village that expertly blends modern and traditional character. It is a natural hidden gem that has escaped the attention of mainstream tourism. “These factors, along with Lythrodontas’ proximity to Nicosia, have motivated many of its residents, especially the younger generation, to remain in the village and not leave it,” Kringou stated.
The village is home to well established horseback riding clubs and schools, offering tours through the nearby forests, including a summer school for children.
Lythrodontas is also renowned for its religious significance. It is home to several intriguing chapels and churches, including the main church that contains the holy relics of the village’s patron saint, Ayios Therapon. “The abandoned monastery of Prophet Elias, which is today owned by the Monastery of Machairas, is located southwest of the village.”
Visitors to this wonderful region of Cyprus can take advantage of the comforts and services provided by a bustling village with a wide range of amenities, including a linear park that connects the village with its open spaces and numerous recreational activities that include horseback riding, biking, hiking, and the specialty arts and crafts activities offered by the Avli Arts Centre.
If you are tempted to stay for the weekend to explore the village’s landscape, Lythrodontas offers the ideal traditional homes that further enhance Cyprus’ reputation as a rural, alternative, and special interest destination all year round.