After spending some time abroad, I have came to a realization that in Cyprus we have some of the most unique and well-preserved villages in entire Europe – steeped in history that give you the feeling you are traveling back in time. One of these villages and my favorite one is Lefkara, my best recommendation for friends who are visiting Cyprus. Not only it’s charming but is also known for its embroidery (Lefkaritika), silver work and traditional stone architecture. It is also in a list with the top 30 most beautiful villages in Europe by Japanese Travel Agents Association (JATA). No matter how many times I visit Lefkara, this village never ceases to amaze me. There is nothing really fancy about it but perhaps that’s why I actually love it – it’s humble, welcoming and captures beautifully the authentic Cypriot culture.
Getting to Lefkara
On your way on the high way, you have to take the exit of Skarinou and then follow the road signs to Lefkara. In just a short period of time, you will arrive to the beautiful Lefkara village. Lefkara is divided in two villages, the ¨Panw Lefkara¨ ( the Upper Lefkara) and the ¨Kato Lefkara (the Lower Lefkara), though the first one is the one I recommend you to visit as it is bigger and has more points of interest. It is always advisable to rent a car while in Cyprus since public transportation is not the most convenient mean of transport. Otherwise, check out Cyprus by bus to find the easiest way to get there.
The history of Lefkaritika Embroidery
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of this village, is its world famous lefkaritika embroidery.You can still see the local Cypriot housewives working on their lace clothings as you walk around the village. According to the local tradition, the history of the lefkaritika takes us back to as 1191-1571, when the art of the lace making was introduced to the women of the village. Ever since, the popularity of lefkariting embroidery is only growing!
There’s a legend that Leonarda Da Vinci visited the village in 1481 and bought a piece of a beautiful laced cloth to give as a gift to the main altar of the Duormo Di Milano. In the early times, lefkaritika were used to decorate the house of each housewife and as a gift to their daughters who were getting married. A very special period for the citizens of Lefkara was the 19th – 20th century when they recognized the opportunity to export the fabulous lacework. Then, the lefkaritika made their appearance at an international level and have been recognized as part of UNESCO cultural heritage.
Taking a stroll around the village
As you walk through the cobblestone streets of Lefkara Village, you will discover the impressive architecture of this village. The streets are narrow and often end up in dead ends with the balconies so close to each other that they look as they are touching. The construction of the settlement is characterized by dense construction. Life was evolving around the back yards of the houses and not in the streets. The doorways to the old houses are huge so that they would allow entrance to the animals of the farmers and they are so old you can tell that its door has its story.
“Ta Orea Lefkara” Loukoumia- Timeless delicacies
If you visit Lefkara, don´t miss out on trying the local delicacies, the the award winning loukoumia “Ta orea Lefkara”. Ta Orea Lefkara have been established since 1895 and passed from generation to generation.Their current owners are the great grand-children of the first owner. Loukoumia, originally are turkish delights but since Cyprus was also conquered by the Ottoman Empire, we were influenced by them in many ways, including their “lokum”. Loukoumia are candies consisting of jellylike cubes covered with powdered sugar. There is a variety of flavors and in the certain workshop of loukoumia you can find as many as 15 flavors! It is also possible to see the making of these delights at this place and bring some packages back home.
Homemade Pastries by Stella
If you are looking to try the authentic Cypriot homemade pastries, then here´s a place you absolutely have to go, Stella’s Traditional Sweets. Unlike the other popular spots in Lefkara, you will not find this place in any lists on the internet, including tripadvisor. It is a hidden gem that mostly locals know about! Indulge yourself with a Cypriot coffee accommpanied by a tahinopita ( traditional sweet tahini pie) or anything else which is made by the owner herself, Stella. Stella will also be more than happy to show you around her place and If you are lucky you might even see the process of the pastries making.
Tasties – An artistic café
You can´t miss out on visiting this charming café. As I have spoken to the owners, they told me that it took them approximately ten years to design this place and decorate it in this vibrant vibe. Every day they have approximately 6-7 dishes of the day and are mostly inspired by the Cypriot cuisine. Even If you stop for a coffee, this place will surely win your heart. Just take a look at it!
The church of Holy Cross
In the heart of Lefkara village, you will find the magnificent church of Lefkara which is overlooking the mountains. The church dates back to the 14th century and as the name implies, the Church of the Holy Cross is dedicated to the Holy Cross. You can find an impressive silver cross that according to the legend, caries a piece of the original sacred Holy Cross which is what makes this church so special.
The locals of Lefkara Village
One thing I absolutely love about this village are its locals. Most of them have lived in this village for their entire lives. They have been to school here, got married and most have their own little business whether it’s an embroidery cloth shop, a coffee shop or a restaurant. Since Lefkara village is quite touristy, they are accustomed to the plethora of travelers that find their way to their village. Hospitality is also something that describes perfectly this little village. So you should expect some really humble smiles, a lovely chat with them and why not share a coffee. They say “A place is only as good as the people you know in it. It’s the people that make the place.” and in this case Lefkara doesn’t disappoint!
The Folk Art Museum
Previously a mansion, that belonged to one of the richest families in the village and now an interesting Folk Art Museum . The Folk Art Museum is a great representative sample of the 19th century style architecture. You can see a variety of exhibits such as lace embroidery, traditional Cyprus costumes and many other traditional elements that you could have seen in the 19th century.
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