Thursday, 10 November 2016 08:10

Autumn Trip to Choirokoitia Heritage Site and Lefkara Traditional Cypriot Village

Aspire’s secondary students visited two important places related to the Cypriot culture, history and tradition. The first one was the Choirokoitia archaeological site dating from the Neolithic age where students had the chance to observe a prehistoric settlement. The second place that we visited was the Lefkara village. The healthy climate of Lefkara, the hospitality of its people, the tradition of the embroidery craft and the unspoilt Cypriot naturalness and simplicity, are some of the many reasons why many people from around the island come to visit, and it is undoubtedly one of the top attractions in Cyprus.

Choirokoitia Heritage Site

Choirokoitia is an archaeological site on the island of Cyprus dating from the Neolithic age. It has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1998. The site is known as one of the most important and best preserved prehistoric sites of the eastern Mediterranean. Much of its importance lies in the evidence of an organised functional society in the form of a collective settlement, with surrounding fortifications for communal protection.

A narrow and long stone construction of 185 meters runs across the settlement. It was discovered by Porphyros Dikaios and was considered as “the main road of the settlement”. In other words, the settlement “was set along a long road”. Several researchers hold that this particular construction comprises the wall of the settlement.

The houses are cyclical with an external diameter of between 2.30 and 9.20 meters and internal diameter of between 1.40 and 4.80 meters. 

The houses were built with stone at their basis, while the upper part was built with adobe and mud. The roofs were created with branches and straws covered in mud. There was “a fireplace, a kind of grate and a foramen that helped the smoke come out” at the centre of the house.

The dead were entombed in dug pits in the house. The pit was filled with earth and covered with mud, thus restoring the floor of the house. The graves were individual and the dead were placed with their bodies recumbent usually towards the rights side. Several objects were placed in the grave according to the sex of the dead person. Another entombment custom was the placement of a stone, refined or unrefined, on the body. They considered that in this way, they prevented the return of the dead to the world of the living.

Lefkara Traditional Village

Lefkara is where the Cypriot folk needlecraft art is born - the famous “lefkaritiko” - which the reputation of has gone beyond the frontiers of Cyprus and has become known in most of the European countries but not only there. Lefkara owes its welfare and prosperity as always spotted to this needlecraft art and to its trade launched in the late 19th century, flourishing during the 20th century first thirty years.

The village is situated at the foot of the Troodos Mountains in the south eastern region, 650m above sea level, 45 km from Nicosia, 30 km from the Larnaca airport and just 12 km from the Nicosia – Limassol highway.

The name of Lefkara village derives from the colour of the surrounding calcareous rocks: “White rocks = Lefkara”. 

It is said that Leonardo da Vinci, the big Renaissance artist visited Cyprus in the late 16th century as a guest of Catherine Cornaro - Queen of Cyprus. He then visited Lefkara and bought a big tablecloth embroidered on all sides, which was donated to the Milan Cathedral.