Discover the authentic Cyprus and its rich history with a  route that encompasses the island’s most significant archaeological sites and some beautiful villages.

Starting your tour at Choirokoitia, just off the nearby Larnaka – Lemesos highway, you will find one of the most important prehistoric sites in the eastern Mediterranean, the Neolithic settlement of Choirokoitia.  The easiest way to the highway from Fig Tree Villa is to pass through the nearby village of Tersefanou and follow the signs for the Limassol Highway.

The archaeological site of Choirokoitia is a remarkably well-preserved settlement from the Neolithic Age that has been a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1998. Entrance fees are 2.50 Euro and it is open from 9am – 5pm.

Remains from all phases of the Neolithic Age are evident in the settlement and provide an insight of living conditions in the region during prehistoric times, as well as how the Neolithic culture spread throughout the region.  Five characteristic cylindrical shaped dwellings have been reconstructed near the settlement, using the same construction methods and materials used in Neolithic times. The dwellings are fitted with replicas of household objects found inside the originals, thus providing a vivid representation of how they appeared in antiquity.  They were built by farmers who came from the Near East mainland around the beginning of the 9th millennium and were constructed with mud-brick and stone. The vegetation around the dwellings consists of plant species and native trees that have grown in Cyprus since Neolithic times.

 

Tochni

Travelling from Choirokoitia towards the ‘Kalavasos’ Neolithic Settlement, you will pass through beautiful Tochni; a picturesque village just 3 km from Choirokoitia, where you can stop and enjoy a drink at one of the village’s quaint coffee shops.  Tochni is among the oldest villages in Cyprus, with a history more than ten, perhaps twenty centuries.  Today the village has been designated an ‘agrotourism’ location which promotes the restoration of the original village house in order to preserve the traditional Cypriot stone houses. The majority of properties use ‘Tochni Stone’ which is quarried nearby.  There are the ruins of a Latin church in the centre of the village, overlooking the Orthodox church of St Constantine and Helena. The current church has been reconstructed on the site of the original, interestingly over a bridge, said to have been founded by St Helena on return from the Holy Land having brought with her a piece of the Holy Cross.

 

From Tochni, you can go on to the Tenta Neolithic settlement – which shares many similarities with the Choirokoitia settlement.  The Neolithic Age settlement of Tenta is located a short distance from Kalavasos Village and dates to 7000 BC. It is one of the most significant Neolithic settlements on the island.  It is covered by a characteristic cone-shaped roof, which forms a contemporary architectural intervention in the landscape.  According to local sources, the locality of Tenta was named after Agia Eleni – mother of Constantine the Great – who pitched her tent on the site when she returned to Cyprus from her trip to Jerusalem in 327A.D.  Entrance is 2.50 euro and opening hours are September 16 – April 15, Monday-Friday: 8:30-16:00 and April 16 – September 15, daily: 9:30-17:00, it is closed at the weekend.

 

I recommend that your archaeological exploration of the area should also be combined with a tasty dish of fresh fish in the nearby village of Zygi, which is famous for its fishing harbour and fish restaurants, the harbour has recently been renovated and is quite nice to stroll around.

After lunch, you can enjoy the scenic route through the countryside passing through Psematismenos Village. This is a quiet village that has kept its character with very interesting vernacular architecture. In the village you can visit the Greek Orthodox church of Ayia Marina (Byzantine with additions in the 19th century), and there are nice countryside walks.  A few kilometres away from the village you will reach your original starting point of the Choirokoitia settlement.

Alternatively, you can simply take the picturesque coast road back down towards Kiti which should take you about half an hour to reach Fig Tree Villa.  You will also pass by the Camel Park near to Mazetos on this coastal route which also houses a small museum and a large swimming pool and is a great stop for the afternoon if you have children.