From Polis, take the road to Latchi and once you’ve driven through Latchi don’t turn off at the sign for the Baths of Aphrodite – keep on going and in about five minutes you’ll find the beautiful and traditional village of Neo Chorio on the very edge of the Akamas peninsula.
Neo Chorio has a population of about 500 and this includes about 200 expatriates.
The village has a local supermarket, tavernas, coffee shops and a bank. The nearest school is in Polis. In the new community centre you will find the doctor’s surgery and a pharmacy. Neo Chorio enjoys fantastic views of Chrysochou Bay to the east and of the Akamas forest and peninsula to the west. Within the administrative boundaries of Neo Chorio lie lots of sandy or pebbled beaches, the Baths of Aphrodite, ruins of churches, and much more.
So starting with mythology, Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, who emerged from the froth of the sea in Paphos in 3,200 BCE, was said to enjoy the privacy of a clear, cool spring in this area. Apparently, though, it wasn’t so private as this is where her Cypriot lover Adonis first saw her. You can visit this spring, known as the Baths of Aphrodite, while you wander along one of the many nature trails in the region surrounding Neo Chorio. Or why not visit nearby Fontana Amorosa (the fountain of love)? If you’re on one of the many nature trails around the region, it probably won’t be long before you encounter goats grazing nearby, or a few free-roaming donkeys. You might also spot some snakes and other reptiles.
On now to a bit of ancient history. Near Neo Chorio in the Kataklistes Karaboulaki area are some recently-discovered underground caves with some of the largest stalactites and stalagmites ever found. Unfortunately, there is no access to the public at the moment but work will start soon to enable everyone to enjoy this amazing spectacle. The belief that at some point in ancient times this area was populated is fuelled by the fact that ancient pottery has been discovered here. Talking of caves, if you fancy following in the footsteps of David Attenborough then visit the bat caves at Petratis Gorge.
If it’s architecture you’re interested in, Agios Minas church, which used to be part of a large monastery, is a very old church with frescos still intact, and deeper into the Akamas you’ll find the ruins of the church of Agios Epifanios near the Fontana Amorosa site.
For those sun-worshippers amongst you, the beaches near Neo Chorio are full of sunbathers in the summer and there are many small and large beaches to satisfy every taste. Whether you prefer a secluded, sandy beach or a bustling, pebbly beach, there are plenty to be found in this area. Or if you fancy a spot of lunch out of the sun, how about a picnic at the Smigies picnic grounds about three kilometres from Neo Chorio. This is a delightful spot to rest and then gear yourself up to tackle another nearby nature trail which has the reward of a natural spring at the end of it.
Average annual rainfall in Neo Chorio ranges from 450 to 600 millimetres and as the area is surrounded by sea and is located next to the rain-bearing winds of the west, humidity is sometimes quite high.
Stone-built houses dominate the architecture of the village and some of these traditional village houses have been recently restored, maybe because of the state’s generous offer to finance 60% of the total cost of repairs. Buildings eligible for this special benefit are those that have not been modified for many, many years (if ever) and which preserve some basic characteristics, such as stone-made walls, wooden stairs, traditional mud ovens, etc.
Neo Chorio is home to artist Harry Hawkins and his wife Sheila, author of four books about this unique area of Cyprus. And you can even visit them by appointment and learn more about this fascinating area from the perspective of a couple of ex-pats. When you’ve done that, why not see some of the local crafts including weaving using a traditional loom and pottery at local workshops?
All in all, there is plenty to see around Neo Chorio and the cool climate makes exploring even more enjoyable, whether on foot, by bicycle or car. The culture of traditional Cyprus is very much alive in this area and the region exudes atmosphere. It has the advantage of being close to the hustle and bustle of a small town with all its tourist trappings and yet there are areas where you can imagine that you have travelled centuries back in time.