Take the F733 from Polis and you’ll come to the picturesque village of Peristerona after about a 10-minute drive. Bordered on one side by the Pafos Forest, the countryside around Peristerona hasn’t been cultivated for many years now and the hills are scattered with olive trees, fruit trees, vines, wild flowers, herbs, and if you’re lucky enough, you many even come across some elusive wild mushrooms. The views from this lovely village are superb with the Evretou Dam glistening in front of you and the Akamas peninsula stretching out behind it. At 499 metres above sea level the summers are a few degrees cooler than the fierce summer temperatures in the coastal towns.
As to how Peristerona came to be so called, ‘peristeri’ is the Greek word for pigeons and in bygone years thousands of these birds made their homes in the nearby Atichoulli Gorge (Gorge of the Eagles).
Nowadays the traditional feel of this mountain village attracts human visitors to make Peristerona their home. The local council are very proud of their village and are encouraging the local residents to renovate their old stone houses so that the natural beauty of the village doesn’t become awash with modern, nondescript villas. In keeping with the character of the village the council is also making a strenuous effort to persuade developers to build new houses in local stone.
As you approach the village you can’t fail to notice the magnificent building which houses the Byzantine Museum of Arsinoe, and the church of St Mamas built in 1911 next to it. Up until the 13th century the ecclesiastical area of Paphos consisted of two separate dioceses - the diocese of Arsinoe which was situated at what is now Polis and the diocese of Paphos. During the Frankish occupation the diocese of Arsinoe was abolished and joined the diocese of Paphos. The diocese was re-established recently in 1996. The museum was a joint effort by the bishops of these two dioceses to present the history and the work of the Church of Arsinoe. The museum houses a collection of more than 60 icons dating from the 13th to the 19th century. Also on display are woodcarvings, metal artworks, sacerdotal vestments and embroideries and several manuscripts sating back to 1551. The grounds of the museum feature an olive press and several stone features representing various saints.
Walk down the winding, narrow streets and you can see restored stone houses mingling with crumbling ruins and abandoned houses. Like Peristerona’s neighbouring village of Steni, many of the inhabitants emigrated to South Africa when the economy of the village declined. However, thanks to the local council’s efforts to revitalise the village, many are now returning to re-establish their roots in this peaceful, beautiful village.