Surrounding Villages, Nicosia
Well worth visiting in the Nicosia region are the picturesque medieval villages of Kakopetria, Galata, Moutoullas, Kalopanayiotis (sulfur springs) and Pedhoulas (cherry blossom in April), which also have Byzantine churches.
Athienou was an ancient metal center and is now an agricultural village. Golgoi, nearby, was an ancient settlement, founded, according to legend, by Golgos, the son of Aphrodite and Adonis. Its archeology was destroyed by the frantic digging of American Consul Cesnola, who made full use of his permission to excavate the sites of the island. He uncovered some huge sculptured heads, which were over a meter high and some statues, which were two and a half meter tall. These are now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.The large number of bronze objects found here have suggested to some archeologists that the people found some religious significance in metallurgy and that Golgoi could have been on route from the copper mines to the harbor.
The village of Pyrga, 20mi/32km from Nicosia, has two churches and a mosque. One of these, at the entrance to the village, is the royal chapel of Ayia Ekaterini, also known as the Chapelle Royale, a Latin chapel built by Lusignans in 1421. It is a very small building, only 6m by 4m, with a single aisle. Inside there is a painting of its founders King Janus and his wife Charlotte de Bourbon, who are also present in the painting of the Crucifixion. The usual New Testament cycle of paintings can be seen, although only fragments of many of the paintings have survived. The Last Supper is the best preserved, while those of the life of the Virgin Mary, on the west wall, are hard to make out.The Department of Antiquities is now restoring the paintings.
Palekhóri is a pleasant village lying in wooded hills. It was owned by the Knights Templar from 1297 and then passed to the noble Venetian Ibelin family. The main sites of interest are the churches; Panayia Khrysopantanissa dates from the 16th century but has been extensively modernized. It has some 17th century paintings, possibly by Philip Goul, a famous icon painter who traveled the Mediterranean, and a 10th century icon of the Virgin Mary.The village is famous for its smoked pork and sausages and is in a particularly pleasant setting, with several good restaurants.
In Dhali, on the road from Nicosia to Larnaca, there is a small sandstone church, built in 1317, with an interesting picture of the donors. Just beyond Dhali is Idalion, an ancient Bronze Age site and traces of the settlement, mainly ruins of city walls, are still visible but are not very impressive.It was once one of the 10 City Kingdoms of the island and a center of worship of Aphrodite. According to legend, Adonis was killed near here by a bear or possibly a boar while he was hunting, a pursuit Aphrodite had repeatedly tried to persuade him to give up.
Peristerona, 19mi/30km from Nicosia, is famous for its church, which lies on the west bank of the river, which is almost always dry. It has five domes arranged in the form of a cross and was built in the 10th century. There is only one other church on the island constructed in that form, that of Yeroskipos near Paphos. It contains 16th century icons of the Presentation of Christ in the temple. There is also a wooden chest containing written church records and is decorated by a medieval scene painted on it.
Alambra, off the Nicosia-Limassol Road, is the site of a Bronze Age settlement where excavations have been taking place since 1974. Some remains have been uncovered, but the casual visitor may be a little disappointed by the site.