Paphos Villages: Letymbou
Over the last few months, we have blogged about a number of abandoned villages in the Paphos region. As the summer holidays are approaching we thought it would be nice to change the focus to the non-abandoned villages. First up is Letymbou. We chose this first because on a recent forum discussion somebody mentioned that Letymbou was famous for having TEN churches. We felt that needed investigation, as we had only ever seen two on our travels.
Map of our Results
Well, rather than find ten churches, I am afraid we only managed three. We did find a website devoted to Letymbou and that listed eight churches. However, it also stated that all but three had collapsed due to past earthquakes etc. In their place you could now find shrines. The site has a lot of historical and general information on Letymbou, and we will be quoting from it extensively in this blog. Check it out for yourself too.
So, to the map. We have highlighted the churches we found. We have also added a road to the map, in black. This is the best route to get to this church. We have added add an interactive link to the area so you will be able to find Letymbou easily. So don't sweat if you can't identify the area from the above. This is just to show you where the churches are.
We approached Letymbou from the old Polemi Road direction. From this vantage point close to Church #1, Letymbou unrolls into the distance. You can just make out the second church in the middle right. Don't worry, we will be there soon enough.
What is noticable about Letymbou, is that it is still very green, even at the end of June.
The first church is The Chapel of Panagia Photolampousa. The website had the following to say about this:
Panagia was called “Photolampousa” (shining light) because she could cure any affection of the eyes or heal blind people.
The chapel was built in the 18th century and it is situated on a hill of a mountain, one kilometer outside the village.
Unfortunately, time has caused severe damage to this small chapel and the community has made serious efforts to restore it.
From 1985 to 1987 the chapel was restored and extended and now its capacity is 400 people. It is a basilica with a wooden roof. It is stone made but the exterior wall is white. The yard is quite big and cemented. It is surrounded by a wall on which there are incorporated benches with ceramic marble. People can sit there during the mass. The bell tower is tall with arches.
Inside the church there is a beautiful wall painting of Panagia Platitera, which was financed by a villager after the renovation of the church. The iconostasis was replaced with a wooden and carven one and it has two doors. The one and only psalter of the church is wooden and very simple. The inside of the chapel is flat and there is no gallery.
The church celebrates mass three times a year. On 21 November (the Presentation of the Virgin in the Temple and also the inauguration of the church), on 15 August (the Dormition of the Theotokos), and on Easter Friday.
Near to the church, and all around the perimeter of Letymbou, we found (well, Max told us about them!) these rock formations. They will get their own blog though.
This is the Church of Agios Theodoros
The church of Agios Theodoros is situated at the same place where an old church, dedicated to the same saint, was built. The old one was a basilica and stone made. The external wall had about one meter width. Unfortunately, the big earthquake that stroke Paphos in 1954 has caused thousands of dead and injured people and also has demolished the church. Actually the half of the church was completely ruined and the other half was crumbly. The only part, which was rescued from the earthquake, was the Temple. For that reason, the inhabitants of the village decided to construct a new church in 1955.
The construction of the church lasted five years. It is a quite big church and its capacity is 1000 people. It is a basilica with a dome and made of stones, extracted from the area around the village. The yard of the church is big and it has fencing: on the southeast of the yard there is a big wall and on the west side there is a baluster. On the north side there is an opening, which borders with the yard of the school. The bell tower is very tall, made of cement and it has only one bell.
The church has no wall paintings, but there is a unique iconostasis, made of mosaic and it has three doors. The portable icons are dated in the 1960. On the top of the iconostasis there are two narrower zones with icons of several Saints. The first zone depicts the festal cycle (dodekaorton), and the second zone depicts the Apostles.
The psalters are simple and wooden. Despite the big size of the church, there is no gallery. The old icon of Saint Theodoros is placed in the church of Saint Kirikos and Ioulitis, in a special fenestra, but in the church of Theodoros there is an hagiography dedicated to the saint and which is placed on the left side of the iconostasis in a special fenestra.
The feast of Saint Theodoros is on 8 February, the day of his martydom, and on 8 June, the day of the removal of the saint’s relics. Agios Theodoros is believed to be thaumaturge and a lot of people make vows and invocations to him.
We didn't know what a thaumaturge was so we looked it up. It is a worker of wonders and performer of miracles.