The History of Kakopetria
The Village of Kakopetria
On the lower slopes of Cyprus's Mount Olympus and between the two streams of the River Klarios, lies the beautifully cool and green village of Kakopetria. Huge plan trees line the streets and squares the banks of the rivers are covered with trees also. There are many other trees which bear a variety of delicious fruits.
A mere 50km from the capital, Nicosia, it lies 700m above sea level. There are many facilities in the village, including shops and a regular transport system which connects to most parts of the island.
As mentioned earlier Kakopetria lies on the river Klarios. This is the only true river in Cyprus, as is in fact a combination of two rivers which join at the large bridge at the beginning of the village.
The first inhabitants were people who came to the area long before the 6th - 7th Century B.C. and this is quite clear from evidence from excavations made outside the the old village in 1938, where a temple of a goddess was found by archaeologists, this can be seen at the Cyprus museum in Nicosia. They lived in the area that is now called the "old village".
Shepherds used the river to graze their animals, and with time married girls from surrounding areas, resulting in the village growing. The first houses were built and pens for animals were made further away in the forest.
The first houses were built between the rivers and for this reason the first inhabitants called it Mesopotamia, which simply meant, a place between two rivers.
How The Name Kakopetria Was Derived
There were many huge stones in the area when people began to inhabit it, stones which had been carried downstream from Mt. Olympus thousands of years before. This made movement very difficult and the first part of the name is derived from this, i.e. Kako = bad.
Even though they were in the way to begin with they were soon put to good use. They were used as foundations for the houses, even today one can see these huge stones protruding from the bases of these houses.
One of the largest stones carried down by the river was left at the head of the river, before the river divides. Below it lies the bridge that was once part of the old road from Kakopetria on the one side, and to Troodos on the other. The stone clearly marks the beginning of the old village and serves as a gateway from the new to the old. The stone is called the Stone of the Newly-weds, i.e. Petra tou Androginou = Stone of the Couple.
It is called this because for hundreds of years it has been the the tradition that after the wedding ceremony the newly-wed couple should go to the stone and walk round it. When they have done this they should step onto it and make a wish. This wish should be that their love will be as strong and steady as the stone.
However, during one of the ceremonies an accident happened that may be a explanation of the name, Bad Stone. One day a newlywed couple were standing on the stone when it rolled over, resulting in their deaths.
There are two explanations for the movement of the stone. One is that an earth tremor caused the stone to move. The other, more probable explanation, is that the movement of the couple on the stone cause it be to dislodged from its precarious position.
In recent years the base of the stone has been cemented to prevent it rolling again.
As the village grew, people used the mountain slopes for vineyards. When all the grapes had been gathered, in late September, the animals were grazed on the vineyards. This served a double purpose, it fed the animals and fertilized the vineyards.
The vineyards in Kakopetria resulted in it becoming one of the best wine-producing areas in Cyprus. The wine from this area was in great demand from countries all over the world.
Grapes were put in barrels and crushed, using traditional methods for wine. Though it is mostly wine which is produced, some of theme have stills and produce Zivania. This is a white spirit which is a by-product of wine making.
After the juice from the grapes is drawn off and placed in a clean jar for the finishing of the wine, the leavings are removed. These leavings, called zivana, are placed in a still and a fire is lit under it. Steam is produced, which passes into a large retort. From this it escapes into a pipe. This pipe passes through a tank of cold water, where the steam cools and condenses. The resulting fluid then flows down an outlet pipe into a waiting container. This fluid is Zivania.
Life In The Old Days
The life of the villagers was very difficult because there was not enough land to cultivate. So the people had to look to occupations other than farming for their livelihood. Most of them were shepherds and had to live away from the village. Some of the old sheep pens still exist, as in the area of Karterouni.
Though life was difficult in the old days, it was not quite as grim as may appear. Kakopetria had two professions that were rather more lucrative than the normal professions of villagers. They were also exclusive to Kakopetria. These people were silk and saddle makers. They traveled all over the island with their talents, even as far as Paphos and Karpasia.
Owing to the abundance of water in Kakopetria, even in the summer, two mills were built. One was near the large bridge, this was called The Mill of Hadjistavrinos. The other mill, a little higher upstream was called The Mill on the Corner.
Kakopetria - The Tourist Centre
When only the old village of Kakopetria existed, Government officials on their way up to the mountain resort of Troodos for the summer stopped in the village. It was a long journey and the cool green village of Kakopetria presented an ideal resting place. So they spent the night in the village in preparation for the second part of their journey up the mountain. It was not until 1900 that a new road was built through Karvounas and Amiandos, by-passing the village.
The equable climate and beautiful surroundings combined the plentiful water and abundant greenery naturally attracted the attention of wealthy families from all over Cyprus, especially those from Nicosia. Inevitably Kakopetria became a summer resort. People began to plan hotels, and the first was built in 1927. The next followed shortly afterwards in 1930. From then on hotels grew up rapidly. During three summer months Kakopetria was full of people seeking the cool of the mountains. As the village grew they built shops, places for eating and drinking and other facilities for the holidaymaker.
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