Discover these hidden Cyprus gems
We all like a spot of adventure and discovery, don’t we? Hidden treasure, hidden gems, they captivate us and set our imagination on fire.
These Cyprus hidden gems are not for everybody, they are reserved exclusively for you and a select few others. These are sights that tend to escape the attention of the masses and their reward to you increases by virtue of that exclusivity!
Larnaca Salt Lakes
They really are a sight to behold and yet, most people will pass them by without a thought! How can it be that something of such beauty is not better known? If you visit Cyprus between November and March you are almost certain to see a range of migratory birds. They will have journeyed here specifically for the water. The flamingoes are here to devour the shrimp that emerge from the otherwise hard baked salt encrusted bed when it becomes saturated by rainfall. In the background is the Hale Sultan Teke Mosque, worthy of a visit in and of itself. Get lost in nature a few minutes outside the city of Larnaca.
Stavrovouni Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery which stands on the top of a mountain called Stavrovouni in Cyprus.
The monastery claims to be one of the few places where one can see a piece of the Holy Cross. Stavrovouni Monastery was founded by Saint Helena (Saint Constantine’s mother) in around 327–329 BCE making it one of the oldest monasteries in the world.
Stavrovouni is accessible to wheelchair users, though it does require some preplanning to arrange a successful visit. If you are thinking of visiting in or with a wheelchair, please contact us for further details.
As the earliest documented monastery on the island, Stavrovouni has a written history stretching back to the 4th century.
The views from the upper courtyard are spectacular on a clear day. the religious icons and the collected relgious artefacts are typically ornate.
It is worth noting that women are not allowed to enter the main part of the monastery. Women may enter a chapel and the gift shop in the car park at the top of the hill. The rule is aimed at ensuring the monks remain isolated in their strict way of life.
A dam may seem an unusual choice as a hidden gem until you think of the vital role that water plays on Cyprus. It is a beautiful spot for a walk in amongst nature.
Kalavassos dam overflowed on Friday 22 March 2019, becoming the 11th dam to do so this winter.
The dam is 57 metres high, 2,000 metres long and has a capacity of 17 million cubic metres (mcm). It was built as part of the Vasiliko-Pentaschino irrigation scheme to irrigate 980 hectares of land between Vasiliko and Maroni and belonging to the villages of Kalavassos, Maroni, Zyigi, Psematismenos, Mari and Tochni.
The last time it overflowed was in 2012.
After abundant rains this winter, Cyprus’ dams in March 2019 were 83% full compared to only 26.7% on the same date last year. Update: In April 2019 all of the Cyprus dams were reported to be at full capacity.
Maroni benefits by being part of this agricultural project which delivers water to farmer’s fields allowing for crop growing, mainly salad crops, that otherwise could not be grown. Tomatoes form the main crop for many of Maroni’s farmers.
As a Crusader stronghold Kolossi literally embodies history! Sadly the interior of Kolossi Castle is not accessible to wheelchair users.
The castle sits on the south-west edge of Kolossi village 14 kilometres west of Limassol. It held great strategic importance in the Middle Ages, and contained large facilities for the production of sugar from the local sugarcane, one of Cyprus’s main exports in the period.
The original castle was possibly built in 1210 by the Frankish military, when the land of Kolossi was given by King Hugh I to the Hospitaller Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.
The present castle was built in 1454 by the Hospitallers under the Commander of Kolossi, Louis de Magnac, whose coat-of-arms can be seen carved into the castle’s walls.
Owing to rivalry among the factions in the Crusader Kingdom of Cyprus, the castle was taken by the Knights Templar in 1306, but returned to the Hospitallers in 1313 following the abolition of the Templars.
The castle today consists of a single three-storey keep which still gives a good idea of how the hospitallers must have lived – with plenty of fireplaces to keep them warm in winter, and window seats to allow them to benefit from cool breezes in summer. There is also an attached rectangular enclosure or bailey about 30 by 40 metres (98 by 131 ft).
The area is particularly known for its sweet wine, Commandaria. At the wedding banquet after King Richard the Lionheart’s marriage to Berengaria of Navarre at nearby Limassol, he allegedly declared it to be the “wine of kings and the king of wines.” It has been produced in the region for millennia, and is thought to be the oldest continually-produced and named wine in the world, known for centuries as “Commandaria” after the Templars’ Grand Commandery there.
Look out for our upcoming post about Commandaria. We test and assess them to save you time.