Spreading in an arc north of Lemesos, the Troodos foothills offer an opportunity to get away from the brashness and heat of the city and the coast. This is open countryside that rises in a series of ridges towards the heights of the Troodos massif, dotted with hill villages that have supported themselves over the centuries by cultivating citrus fruits, olives and above all wine. The southward-facing slopes provide the perfect terroir for growing grapes (particularly indigenous Mavro and Xynisteri and imported Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties) something they’ve been doing in this area for over five thousand years.
It’s not easy to explore the foothills of Lemesos district in any systematic way. One approach would be to follow the wine routes organized by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation and contained in a useful free guidebook available from tourist centres and participating wineries.
Another approach might be to cluster the villages to be visited into geographical groups – the ones sometimes called the “Krassochoria” (Wine Villages) to the west, the group in the centre, once ruled by the Hospitallers in Kolossi and known collectively as the Koumandaria, and the villages to the east marketed, hopefully, by the tourist authorities as “the Cypriot Tuscany”. Or you can, of course, simply meander through the region, going where the spirit takes you. Do, though, stick to the main roads, even though this can mean a lot of doubling back – what on the map may look like a tempting short-cut between villages could turn out to be a rutted dirt road for which you’ll need a 4WD.Read More
OMODOS is the epitome of the Troodos foothills wine village. That’s why it attracts so many visitors and that’s why it’s lambasted for being too touristy. Don’t listen to the critics – if you’ve only got time for one village, make it this one. Surrounded by vineyards, Omodos is laid out around a large pedestrianized cobbled square which slopes gently down to Timiou Stavrou (Holy Cross) Monastery. Outside the entrance a statue commemorates a past abbot, Dositheos, who was one of 486 Greek Cypriots beheaded or hanged in Nicosia by the Turkish authorities on July 10, 1821 during the Greek War of Independence. Inside, what was the monastery church now acts as the parish church, while several of the rooms and outbuildings have been colonized by the Struggle Museum, which has lots of memorabilia of the EOKA campaign against the British. Other areas of the monastery host an Icon Museum, which not only includes icons, but also decorative woodcarving (look up at the ceiling for a wonderful example), and an Ecclesiastical Museum. All are free, and give a taste of how the village sees itself.
Around the square are a bunch of souvenir shops, together with a good range of taverna/café-bars: check out the Village Inn, for example. Look out too for the children’s coin-operated rides just outside the monastery – not Thomas the Tank Engine or Bob the Builder, but disconcertingly realistic donkeys. The emphatic “Only for Children” notices seem to imply that they’ve had problems with adults, perhaps over-indulging with the local vino. There’s a massive old wine press near the square, dating from the Lusignan period, while just outside the village is the Linos Winery (linoswinery.com) which is geared up for large parties of visitors (English spoken, ample parking, and there’s a shop). As well as wine, Omodos also makes zivania, an explosive spirit, together with a number of sweets made from wine must.
The Wine Routes
The Wine Routes
The Cyprus Tourist Organisation’s excellent guide to wine routes in Pafos and Lemesos Districts is a must for any oenophiles visiting Cyprus. Six routes are described, three in Pafos District, three in Lemesos District. The routes are also clearly signposted on the ground with signs that are, appropriately, a Burgundy colour. Each route includes a summary of the climate, terrain, vineyards and grape varieties to be experienced, a detailed description of the roads to be travelled and the villages to be visited, and a list of wineries and tavernas to be found along the way, together with a lot of advice on the storage and drinking of wine. The Lemesos District is covered by Route 4 (the Krassochoria), Route 5 (Koumandaria) and Route 6 (Pitsilia).