The deputy ministry of tourism has created an augmented reality app that uses dragons and other mythical characters to take users on a fantastical virtual tour of 20 Cypriot villages.

The move is part of efforts to develop rural and mountain tourism, the ministry said.

Titled Heartland of Legends or HoL, the experiential route passes through rural areas and mountain and rugged areas offering authentic experiences that bring visitors into contact with Cypriot nature, tradition and the way of life of Cypriots in these areas.

According to the HoL website, almost every single place, village, mountain, river, countless rocks, trees, monuments in Cyprus, have their magical stories.

“Stories about their name, their importance, how they came to be and how Cypriots loved, worshipped and cherished the islands’ nature. Stories about mythical creatures, legends about brave men, soldiers and infamous bandits and beautiful queens. Myths about places of great beauty chosen by the gods for their escapades. Places where great love stories unfold, full of passion and intrigue. Stories about ancient wisdom of how to make strange portions, using the nature’s cabinet to cure ailments of the body and the heart alike.”

The deputy ministry said the aim is to encourage inland tourism through “a game of discovery”.

Users, after installing the app on their mobile phones, can discover “digital dragons”, hiding in the villages featured on Heartland of Legends.

Users can visit the 20 villages and at each one a story will unfold.

The designs and the dragons are inspired by the unique works of the Cypriot engraver Hambis Tsangaris, a winner of the Europa Nostra Heritage Award.

The project is being implemented in collaboration with the Cyens Centre of Excellence and the Hambis Engraving Museum and was co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund.

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