From Ayios Ioannis To Vretsia

Published 20th of December, 2019

As the Xeros Valley gives way to Paphos Forest, two old Turkish Cypriot Villages stand on either sides of its slopes. We took the long-neglected road from Ayios Ioannis to Vretsia, and discovered not only beautiful countryside, but another abandoned village, and several ancient mills along the way.

Last Summer...

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During the summer we visited Ayios Ioannis, and wrote a two-part blog on our experiences. It is a fascinating place, which used to be populated by Turkish Cypriots. They were displaced in 1974, after which Greek Cypriots displaced from the North settled. I noticed, while we explored the part-abandoned village, a sign pointing to Vretsia. We have visited Vretsia on numerous times in the past (see blog list below), and it is well worth a journey. However, it is on the opposite side of the valley, and the area between can be quite inhospitable at times. I was puzzled as to the route this road might take, and we were passing nearby recently, with time on our hands, so it seemed rude not to go exploring...

Breath-Taking

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Initially the road is fairly well maintained. It took me a bit by surprise though, in that it doesn't take a direct route. Instead it hugs the valley and heads towards the distant sea. You can see the road on the left of this picture, carved into the side of the hill. Drive carefully, as it is a long way down. The views along the way are outstanding, especially now there is a hint of green returning to the countryside.

Direct Route

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There is a more direct route, which follows the course of a nature trail. However, we covered that in the original Ayios Ioannis blog.

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The journey is worth it for the views alone. There was a big fire on these hills over the summer, but you wouldn't be able to tell that from this scene.

Mystery Water Feature

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This took me by surprise. By the side of the road, there was one of the traditional water fountains you find in nearly all Cypriot Villages. Most of these were built by the British in the 50s. However, this one appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. Even stranger, it had neither the ER crest nor the ROC crest you get on later models. So who put it there, and why?

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Related Blogs:

Ayios Ioannis - Part 1

We haven't explored the further reaches of the Diarizos Valley much, especially not the hilltops that head towards the Xeros Valley and Paphos Forest. We've been rectifying that recently, and in this blog we want to take you on a visit to Ayios Ioannis. We thought it would be a smallish village, but we were in for a surprise. This blog is large, so we have split it in two parts. The second part will be published in a day or two.

Ayios Ioannis - Part 2

In the concluding part of our visit to Ayios Ioannis we continue through the village before visiting an old abandoned school, and finish up gazing down upon the Xeros Valley and Paphos Forest.

Abandoned Villages - Vretsia

Cyprus has more than it's fair share of abandoned villages. The troubles caused the displacement of both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.The environment itself has caused other villages to be abandoned for reasons of safety. Whatever the reason, the abandonment caused emotional pain and suffering to the affected people. So is it right to right a series of blog articles on them? I thought about this for a while, but decided that yes it was. Cyprus is a land built on antiquities, and these villages are just the latest example. I had no problem blogging about a Necropolis after all. However, some of these villages, and especially Ventris, do still get visits from the displaced families. So if you do decide to visit these places on the strength of these articles, please bear that in mind, and treat them with respect. The urban exploring motto "take only pictures, leave only footprints..." nicely sums it up.

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Pomos is quite a trip from Paphos, but it is most definitely worth it. We were up that way to visit some abandoned villages and overflowing reservoirs this week, but stopped to take in the coast along the way. The countryside up there is breathtaking, and well worth a visit. Here's a short selection of what to expect.

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