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Fall in love with Pedoulas

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A rich natural environment and cultural heritage, in addition to its cherries, make this mountain village an ideal place to appreciate rural Cyprus life says PAUL LAMBIS

The island of Cyprus is synonymous with love. And while some are drawn to the stories of the island’s major cities, there are many Cypriot villages that have their own inspirational narratives that can be summed up in one word: love.

Travelling around the island, some of the most picturesque villages will be encountered, each with a distinct atmosphere, where people live to the fullest. Cyprus unquestionably arouses the senses and is undoubtedly the place to fall in love.

dom travel2That is how I felt when I visited Pedoulas, located on the northern flanks of the Troodos mountains in the heart of the Marathasa Valley. I felt an instant connection to the place; it felt familiar, welcoming, and enchanted.

The village is a treasure trove of natural scenery and is an ideal year-round destination for nature lovers, mountaineers, or those who simply want to get away from the commotion of Cyprus’ larger cities.

“Pedoulas, inhabited since Byzantine times, boasts an ancient history, when Arab raids forced Cypriots to flee the coastal areas and seek refuge in the mountains,” president of the Nicosia Tourism Board Theodoros Kringou said.

Pedoulas was a royal estate during the Frankish and Venetian periods, and it later became a pioneering tourism destination due to its excellent climate and diverse landscapes. “Visitors in the 19th century were accommodated in local traditional houses, but hotel tourism began to develop around the turn of the 20th century.

“In the 1950s, Pedoulas’ economy flourished, and it became the cultural and commercial centre of the 14 villages that comprise the Marathasa Valley,” Kringou added.

dom travel timios stavros chapelThe church of the Archangel Michael is one of the most important attractions in Pedoulas. Dating back to 1474, it is one of ten sacred sites on Unesco’s World Heritage List and is considered one of the most important Byzantine churches in Cyprus. “Its walls are covered with superb, well-preserved frescoes in the local post-Byzantine style that developed prior to Venetian rule,” Kringou said.

“Located opposite the church, Pedoulas’ Byzantine Museum houses and preserves the icons and holy relics that were taken from the village’s Byzantine chapels.”

The overpowering 25m cross that stands tall on the south side of the Timios Stavros Chapel is one of the most impressive landmarks in the area. The structure dominates the landscape of Pedoulas and can be seen from afar.

Visitors who want to learn more about the area and its rich history should visit the Pedoulas Folkloric Museum, which provides an insight into the community’s social and economic development. “In addition to the traditional art and local farming tools on display, the museum features the interior of a typical traditional Cypriot house with authentic furniture, household items, and local costumes,” Kringou said. “All of the items in the museum’s collection, along with weaving, which is another important part of the region’s identity, have shaped the village’s historical and cultural heritage.”

dom travel4The area is a natural haven, especially in the winter when Pedoulas is often blanketed in snow. As such the village is a year-round open-air nature museum, which is in close proximity to the forest that surrounds it. “There is an abundant supply of water from natural springs that is potable,” Kringou told the Cyprus Mail. “It is regarded as one of the best drinking waters on the island.”

There are various cycling routes and nature trails in the area that allow visitors to explore its abundant flora and fauna, hidden chapels, stone-built fountains, and a famous five-century-old cedar tree. “There is also an environmental centre, which offers seminars on the village’s abundant plant life and wildlife.”

However, Pedoulas is perhaps best known for its cherries. For centuries, these scarlet fruits have delighted cherry lovers’ palates, and every June the residents of Pedoulas host a festival that includes a jam-packed schedule of activities including cooking demonstrations, marketplaces with traditional products and walks among cherry orchards. Cherry trees grow on the slopes of Troodos, where the climate is favourable, and the region primarily cultivates two varieties: the purple black ‘petrokerasa’ and the pinkish white ‘French’.

From its natural environment to its rich, historical heritage, the charming village of Pedoulas makes perfect sense for exploring rural Cyprus, its traditions, architecture, religious sites, gastronomy, and, most importantly, its traditional warm Cypriot hospitality; more than enough reasons to fall in love.

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