Modern Choletria lies on the F617. You might drive through it if you are headed up to the Troodos from Paphos. However, if you are approaching from the direction of Nata, you will first arrive at Old Choletria. At first glance, there is not much to see here, but it is worth taking a slight detour to explore...
Distant Old Choletria
Our journey begins on the outskirts of Nata. Looking across the Xeros Valley you can see the old church and a few other buildings. Nothing looks particularly abandoned from here, but that is just your eyes playing tricks on you.
As you can see when you get closer, that church is in ruins. However, it is clearly a church, and not a mosque. This will give you a clue as to why the village was abandoned. The Choletria website has the full story. However, I will summarise it here.
The traditional history of Choletria begins about 500 years ago. Originally it was placed upon a barrow across from the sea, but this made it vulnerable to attack, so they moved to Old Choletria, inside the Xeros Valley. The village's first inhabitants were all stockbreeders, who later became more agricultural.
Signs of Life
Continuing the History...
On the 10th of September, 1953,Choletria sustained substantial damage in the Paphos Earthquake. The inhabitants tried to move the village, but the colonial government wasn't really interested. Some repairs were done to houses that were damaged and a few shanties were built replacing the ruined houses -and life went on. This however led to the gradual abandonment of the community.
The winters of the late 60s were very hard, and there were large-scale landslides in the area. The villagers put pressure on the government, and even went to Archbishop Mararios for help.
The operations for transferring Choletria started on the 10th of March, 1971. They stopped during the Turkish invasion, but continued on the 18th of August 1974. The operations continued intensely and on the 11th of January, 1975, the first family settled in the new village, to be followed by other families. On the 17th of July, 1975, the new village was supplied with electrical power and by the end of the same year all the families resettled in the new village.
So, Old Choletria was abandoned because of the weather, not because of inter-communal fighting.
When I explore these old villages, I always experience slight feelings of guilt. Part of me feels that it is wrong to gain pleasure from looking at people's ruined lives and dreams. But I feel less guilt when the village was abandoned due to the weather.
Don't worry, I have no plans to stop exploring these villages, I find them very poignant places and I know from some of the comments I get that people from all sides of the divide get pleasure out of seeing them.
In the distance, you can see a very empty reservoir. The Asprokremmos needs rain.
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