Wanna know the top villages to visit in Cyprus? You will find several articles mentioning Lefkara. So, allow me once again to take you to this famous Cyprus Village: Lefkara, Famed for Laces and Silverworks.
GPS Coordinates: 34.8703° N, 33.3009° E
What I am about to show you is Pano (Upper) Lefkara Village, situated in the foot of the Troodos Mountains. This belongs to Larnaca District and is 30 km NE of Limassol. The name Lefkara is of Greek word origins; “lefka” means white and “or” means mountains.
History of Settlement
Archaeological findings suggest that there are no signs of early settlement for centuries. The earliest recording is the birth of St. Neophytos, the Recluse born in Lefkara around 1134. He is one of the significant figures of the Church in Cyprus.
The Venetians occupied Cyprus during 1489 – 1570 A.D. and most of the noble families spend their summers here. Noble wives during this era influence the local women, the art of lace-making.
By 1570 with the Turks in Cyprus, an event may have taken place for residents to abandon the village.
During the late 18th century, under the British Administration, Lefkara became one of the first rural villages.
The residents are of a mix of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots though the former are majority. Just like most of the Cyprus villages, population decline sometime 1960s due to migration in other cities or abroad.
The Birth of Lefkaritiko
In the olden times, lacemaking or lefkaritiko is a past time hobby of the women in the village. Visiting the village, you can immediately spot groups of women sitting together outside with their needleworks.
Grandmothers and mothers, train young girls with this skill. There is no template for the designs, it is something one remembers and continues the cycle of teaching.
Carobs, grapes and olives are the main agricultural produce in the village but in so many occasions, residents experience hardships due to droughts. The women found a way to market the laces to supplement the needs of the family.
Further Reading: Lefkaritika Delicate Lace of Cyprus
In 1896, a village woman brought the laces to Alexandria, Egypt to market them. The first attempt is not successful and by 1902, she visited Egypt again with her husband, and this time bringing orders from abroad. Hence, the year 1920-1930 is the peak of lefkaritiko.
The early years of trading are relatively simple, the sons are sent abroad carrying suitcases of laces that reach various countries worldwide. Later on, these entrepreneurs reside abroad and establish their shops.
As you walk through the village, it is evident how this craft flourish traditionally and economically.
This is how Lefkara laces rise popularity throughout the world.
Further Reading: Lefkara Laces Exhibition in New York; 2018
Da Vinci Pattern
Following the 600th anniversary of the Cathedral, the women of Lefkara gave a new tablecloth of the same design. The pattern is now popular with the name, Da Vinci Pattern.
UNESCO Intangible Heritage
In 2009, Lefkara lace was inscribed in UNESCO Intangible Heritage. One of the many reasons is that this folk tradition is passed to generations up to the present day, and the craft provided women a sense of identity and continuity.
Further Reading: Intagible Heritage of Cyprus – Lefkara Laces
From the excavation finds, it shows that as early as 2000 BC, the settlers use silver to create objects. Moreso, during the Christian times as icons of saints, have silver leaves and other household items have elements of silver.
A historian, Aristides N. Koudounaris, recounts silverworks in Lefkara during the 18th century from the dates of his collections.
While the women of Lekfara are busy with the laces, the men set up metal workshops along the streets. Continuing the local tradition of silverworks, they hone metal handicrafts such as goblets, plates, and spoons. When you enter a shop, there are laces and metal crafts on display.
Image from LefkaraVillage, one of the stores in Lefkara.
Further Reading: Lefkara Traditional Silversmithing
A Quaint Village
Be ready with your cameras or make the most of your phone cameras and take endless shots of various subjects. We always find cobblestones walkways stunning, lots of distinct doors, windows, and pretty wrought-iron balconies. Don’t forget the vibrant palette of colors accentuated by plants and flowers. This village has one of the stunning architectures, houses made of limestone and terracotta rooftops.
Spend a part of your day going through the village and choose an excellent spot for a cup of coffee or enjoy a delicious Cypriot dish!
Points of Interest
Here are some of the places around Lefkara for you to check out.
- Timios Stavros Church – Many records show that this Church dates back the 14th Century. The Church has a silver cross and according to tradition, a piece of the Lord’s cross is in the center of this cross with silver coating.
- Ayioi Anargyri and Ayios Neophytos Chapel – They are big and small chapels at the entrance of the village for St Anargyri and St. Neophytos. The latter is honored every 28th of September and 24th of January.
- Folk Art Museum – Under the care of the Department of Antiquities since 1988. This a typical house in the 19th century and holds the best collections of laces.
- Dipotamos Dam – one the largest dam in Cyprus with a capacity of 14 million cubic meters of water. The dam looks like the Swiss or Norwegian fiords. Visitors can fish for trouts.
For more information about Lefkara Village, click in the community online portal.
Lefkaritika in Present Times
The intricate needlework is facing challenges in the present times due to these factors:
- Quality vs. Price – Most buyers especially tourists tend to haggle for cheaper prices. The creation of these pieces takes time to complete by hand to produce quality craft.
- Aging craftswomen – When I visited Lefkara, I didn’t see young women stitching. As the young pursue their studies, move to the cities or abroad. What will happen in the next 15 – 20 years?
- Modern trends – Back in the days each household use pieces of this artwork. Here in my house, we have a dining cloth of the same embroidery from my grandmother. What about the new houses with modern interior designs, do they still use these pieces? This affects demand for the products.
- COVID19 Pandemic – We visited Lefkara twice, during this pandemic. On the first occasion, everything is close so there is no sense getting down the car. On the second trip, only a few shops, cafes, and restaurants open; even the museum is close. It is a pity to go around an empty village. Thankfully I chat with one store owner and she shares her woes during this pandemic; no tourists, no sales.
How can we help our society to stop the decline of folk traditions?
What message can we impart to the young generation in uplifting traditions?
As a tourist, do you usually bargain for handcrafted pieces, knowing that the product is the main livelihood that exist for centuries?
May this article shift a course of action and perspective in us, as we are mostly tourists and part of a society with history.
Whew! Did the last questions activate some thoughts to ponder? Let’s put that aside for a while and here is a side trip excursion as you visit Lefkara.
Golden Donkeys Farm is nineteen minutes drive from Lefkara in the village of Skarinou.
This is the biggest camel farm in Cyprus and “probably” in Europe. There are about one hundred seventy donkeys, and they produce donkey’s milk. Yes! Have you tasted donkey’s milk? It has lesser fat than cow’s milk and its composition is similar to breast milk. What?!? Also it is loaded with nutrients, vitamins and anti-aging too! Wow!
Donkeys are part of Cyprus tradition, remember they are the first logistic buddies back in the days!
Aside from the donkeys, there is a wax museum, olive mill, botanical garden, traditional house and Church.
So, there’s a lot more to do and see for this excursion. For more information, click for the website and contact details below.
Golden Donkeys Farm
- Phone00357 99 620 736
- AddressSkarinou 7731, Cyprus
Finally, we are at the end of this article. I will definitely visit Lefkara again, once there are more people traffic and they are back on their usual buzz.
Did you enjoy the virtual tour of this Cyprus Village Lefkara, Famed for Laces, and Silverworks?
Going back to the questions earlier, just hit the comment button below.