|Not to be confused with Episkopi near Limassol, this Episkopi lies about 11kms northeast of Paphos, and the first thing you can’t fail to notice as you enter the village from the Konia road is a gigantic cliff towering high above you. Near the base of the cliff an old stone drinking fountain still remains. Travel a few metres further and you will come across the church of Agios Ilarionas, who is the patron saint of the village. The church dates back to the 1100s, but take a look up the craggy cliff and you will see the 20th century church of St Ilarionas. This saint was born in 290 AD and was a contemporary of Constantine the Great. After arriving from Palestine he led the life of a hermit and was buried in his small garden in 371 AD. The cave where he lived can still be seen.
The village still retains a traditional feel, with many old, one-storey houses lining the steep, narrow roads.
The community of Episkopi is part of the Kiláthes Project, for the sustainable development and management of the river valleys of eastern Paphos (1999-2002).
Seven villages participated in the first phase of the Kiláthes (Valleys) Project for the regeneration of the area. They are Amargeti, Ayia Marina, Episkopi, Eledio, Kelokedara, Nata, and Salamiou. The Project studied the area in depth and confirmed the importance of both its natural and manmade heritage. The area’s geological formations and the existence of the valleys with their perennial water have resulted in a wealth of species and habitats. Within the area lies one of the island’s most interesting monuments: the Episkopi Rock, and one of the most elegant historical monuments: the 16th century Sindi Monastery, recipient of a Europa Nostra award for excellence in restoration (1997).
Episkopi, one of the project villages, is noteworthy in that it is built on a steep slope on the west side of the Ezousa River valley, located some 11kms northeast of Paphos. A stroll around the village reveals to visitors that the traditional core of the village remains unchanged. The old stone drinking fountain with its characteristic arches still stands.
At a distance of around 1.5kms north of the village is a picnic site recently established as a joint initiative by the community and the village’s emigrants. It is an idyllic location on the east bank of the Ezousa, surrounded by greenery.
The Project has proposed a management plan for the Kiláthes area based on the principles of sustainable development and protection of the landscape, the cultural and architectural heritage, and the environment. It makes a number of proposals for the area, including the development of a panoramic route connecting the villages as well as certain initiatives to be undertaken in each community to make it more attractive to visitors and locals.
The proposed initiatives for Episkopi are:
Development of a natural trail on a circuit route along which various interesting species may be seen, such as Bosea cypria, the endemic Alyssum akamasicum, and the water frog, Hyla savignyi.
- Utilisation of the old church of Agios Ilarionas (Saint Ilarionas)
- Utilisation of Episkopi’s rock and creation of a square at the foothill of the rock
- Re-use of the school building
- Utilisation of the contemporary church of Agios Ilarionas as an observation post marking the end of the walk routes
- Utilisation of the large disused village school as a mark or the end of the walk routes inside the village
|Village data (1999)
|Houses in permanent use
|Seasonally occupied houses
|Houses in ruin
|Buildings of traditional character
|Listed under a preservation order
|Post-seismic prefabricated dwellings
The river valleys located around Episkopi are full of hidden treasures. Following the course of the riverbeds, the intrepid explorer can discover crumbling water mills, Venetian bridges, old chapels, and deserted villages. One of these treasures is the 16th century monastery of Panagia tou Sindi (Virgin Mary of Sindi) whose restoration, which started in 1994, won the Europa Nostra award in 1997. The award was in recognition of the "successful maintenance and restoration of the building with the use of the right technical methods and with respect to the maintenance of its original character."
A protective wall encloses the monastery which is dominated by its beautiful church. The courtyard is lined on three sides by stone buildings that used to be the refectory, kitchen, storage rooms and monastic cells. Over the past fifty years the monastery fell into disrepair and it was proclaimed an antiquity in 1966. Some years ago it was purchased from its private owner by the Kykkos monastery and the renovation project began in 1994.