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.