Just up the road from Miliou, off the Paphos to Polis road, you’ll come to the picturesque village of Akourdalia, or Kato Akourdalia to be more precise, as like many villages in Cyprus, Akourdalia is a village of two halves, with Pano Akourdalia being just a few minutes further up the road. Both villages have a population of about 50. The name Akourdalia is said to be taken from the local dialect for wild garlic which grows in abundance in the surrounding fields.
In amongst the traditionally-styled whitewashed houses nestling between almond trees, there is a small coffee shop in Kato Akourdalia. You’ll also find what used to be the village manor house, which has a rich history dating back over a hundred years. The building has since been renovated and converted into a group of self-catering suites for holidaymakers with a restaurant downstairs offering traditional Cypriot cuisine. There is no kiosk or shop in the village, but the village of Kathikas is only a few minutes’ drive away and has a few shops and also a few excellent taverns.
The Museum of Folk Art is situated high on the hillside in the old schoolhouse. The museum houses all sorts of interesting artefacts from years gone by, many of which were used to cultivate small areas of land with wheat, chickpeas and barley. There are hand ploughs with stout wooden shafts and several large metal sieves used for sifting the soil. There are traditional costumes too, and there are faded old photographs of the village men resplendent in their vrakas and stout leather boots and the women in dresses of striped hand-woven cotton with matching headscarves and large protective aprons. The villagers would wear these costumes for all big celebrations and would weave the cloth on large wooden looms like the one that stands proudly in the corner, as well as making colourful rugs for the walls and floors of their homes.
Outside the museum, a traditional clay bread oven can be seen with its smaller side oven that is used to cook the popular local dish kleftiko, which is chunks of lamb that are baked slowly in terracotta pots with marjoram. Close by, stands a zivania still which was used at the end of the grape harvest to make the local variety of fire water. As well as making your head spin, zivania is also known for its medicinal properties. So you can either drink the stuff to forget about your aches and pains, or rub it into any sore areas – the end result is the same!
On the outskirts of Kato Akourdalia is a track which leads to the pretty whitewashed church of Ayia Paraskevi. Of cruciform style with a dome, the church was originally full of frescoes and the villagers say the church dates back to the 15th century. Simply decorated there is a stone altar inside with the remains of an old icon dedicated to Our Lady. The church was restored a few years ago.
If you travel up the road from Kato Akourdalia, you’ll come Pano Arkoudalia where the houses are more modern. There is a fantastic herb garden here, which used to be the old schoolhouse, where visitors can wander around, have a coffee, and buy a variety of fresh herbs. Over the road, the pretty church of Chryselousa is said to date back to the 16th century. Recently renovated, the church is full of frescoes. The church was built near the point where two streams meet and is dwarfed by a huge olive tree. There is also an old stone olive press nearby.
Both villages are a popular destination for visitors with special interests. It’s a bird watcher’s dream, as every spring and autumn millions of birds fly over the island, many of them resting in these rural areas. You can see many colourful and rare species in the countryside surrounding the villages. If you’re keener on the flora of the island, there are many rare and beautiful flowers in the hedgerows including many different orchids. Between the two villages lies the deserted gorge of Chryparissia, which takes its name from the slender cypress trees that grow on its banks. It is the perfect place from which to admire the natural beauty and is always a popular spot for artists and photographers alike.
Fringing the Akamas peninsula, both villages offer terrific views over the Chrysochou valley towards the foothills of the Troodos mountains and these are particular dramatic at sunset. So why not enjoy a glass of wine while you watch the sun setting and breathe in the heightened fragrance of the herbs and orange trees as dusk falls?
Shrouded by a veil of the prettiest almond blossom, these villages are at their absolute best in the springtime. Although they are beautiful all year round as they are always perfumed by citrus blossom and wild herbs, and in the winter months the smell of wood smoke from countless open hearths is always welcoming.