We continue our spring journey amongst the Cyprus mountains. As we leave Kalopanayiotis, we take the only road going upstream , which takes us directly to Moutoullas. What greets us is a typical mountainous village, which derived its name from the surname of its first inhabitant.
Moutoullas can be called the fruit garden of Marathasa, and it’s easy to see why as we leave the main road and continue our journey on foot through its narrow streets and small orchard trails.
All around us it’s incredible to see such a rich variety of fruit trees in such a small area: cherry, apple, pear, apricot, peach and fig trees are all loaded with colourful, ripe fruit waiting to be picked and taken to the groceries in the towns of Cyprus.
We continue along the orchard paths, our destination being a small medieval church. The Panagia tou Moutoulla church (the Moutoullas church of the Virgin Mary) is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Monuments, with its wooden rooftop, carved wooden doors and marvellous wall paintings.
As Moutoullas village is so small, it doesn’t offer holiday accommodation to visitors, but it does offer delicious home cooked local food, fruit sweets and mineral water for which it is famous.
We return to the car and the main road after this short visit to Moutoullas, and now we’re on our way to the next village: Pedoulas.
Pedoulas village might more accurately be known as Pedoulas mountain resort as it is a very popular holiday destination for many townspeople who want to escape the heat and humidity of the towns in the summer. Here, they enjoy the cool, dry climate offered to them by nature.
We drive along narrow roads that curve around the steep, nearly vertical slopes of the now barren mountains on our right hand side; on our left we see the rich vegetation of the river bank. These stunning contrasting views accompany us to the outskirts of Pedoulas.
As we reach Pedoulas village – or ‘Pedoulas resort’, if I may be allowed to call it that – we immediately notice the difference from other villages. Pedoulas has an air of modernization as a tourist resort, but this is mixed with the local hospitality and traditions in a way that cannot be found elsewhere. This harmonious combination of opposites makes the visitor feel at home.
Even during the early years of the 20th century the people of Pedoulas realized the potential of their village to attract visitors from the towns and even from abroad. They took the opportunity to increase their low incomes and built hotels and rented their houses for the summer holiday season to holidaymakers. Shops, restaurants, cafes and bars were opened, but the local coffee shops remained untouched as a reminder of the traditional ways.
No one can be bored in Pedoulas. There are medieval churches, a museum, forest and fruit tree orchard trails, and open air restaurants shaded by cherry, pine and oak trees.
This is where we take a break and relax, enjoying the running waters of the springs, the twittering of the birds and the cool breeze from the nearby forest.
Although our short visit has given us a small insight into the beauty of Pedoulas, it would take whole books to describe the depth and soul of the village. This is a village that has its own traditions, a rich history built up over the past centuries; it’s a village that has given birth to many famous people in the history of Cyprus, and a village that has seen much beauty but also many sacrifices.