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Vasa Kilaniou

06/02/2020
* NOTE: All the tributes of All About Limassol (as the Official Guide of Limassol) aim to ONLY highlight the special aspects of this wonderful city, so that everyone can be aware of the exceptional options they offer. Under no circumstances do they have any promotional or nominal value, and they do not serve the interests of Companies, Municipalities, Organizations or Individuals.

Surrounded by vineyards, Vasa Koilianiou is one of the most important wine villages of the Limassol mountain region, with a long history in the production of wine and grape products. It is the fifth largest wine village of Limassol in terms of its arable land, which surpasses 40% of the total area of the village.

It is located at an altitude of 750 meters, just 35 kilometers from Limassol. Though in 1946 it was the 16th largest village in Limassol, Vasa was not spared from the urbanization which took place in the 1960s. Despite its drastic decline in population, the village retains a sense of nobility which bears witness to its former wealth and glory, while the contemporary, prototype Museum of Primary Education acts as a reminder that the school of Vasa educated many people from the surrounding areas.

Viticulture had experienced a period of decline during the last decades of the 20th century, but it is showing signs of recovery. Today, there are 2 noteworthy wineries in operation in the village, while several vineyards have been revived, providing their harvest to a number of wineries across Cyprus.

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The warm, welcoming people of the village are one of its greatest advantages. This is why many people who don't live in the area choose to stay there, including the former Irish ambassador to Cyprus.

Name – History

The name of the village is of Ancient Greek origin, from the word ‘Vassa’ or ‘Vissa,’ which means wooded valley. Historical evidence of the existence of a village with a similar name in Arcadia in the Peloponnese leads to speculation that the creation of Vasa may be related to the settlement of Arcadians in Cyprus. After all, the village was home to a sanctuary of Apollo, in the spot where the central church is built today. Vasa was an important fief during medieval times, belonging to crusading barons, as evidenced by the sword collections which were discovered on a hill behind the church in 1993. 

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Square

The imposing presence of the Evangelismos Church in the center of the village led to the creation of a beautiful, paved square surrounded by coffee shops. This, combined with the narrow streets and stone-built houses, many of which have been renovated, contribute to the image of a picturesque village that is rich in traditions.

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During the time that the village population was thriving, this area was considered to be a commercial center, with grocery shops, barbershops, and workshops, as well as slaughterhouses selling fresh, local meat. In fact, Vasa was known for its ‘tsamarela’ (cured goat meat), which is considered to be the ideal appetizer to enjoy with a shot of zivania.

Architecture

The charm of traditional architecture is preserved to this day in Vasa, featuring carved limestone as the basic building material. Houses with thick walls, large, interior yards and arches, some with a second story connected by an exterior, stone staircase are all a testament to the wealth of the village. Where possible, many residents of the village had a second auxiliary home, which was used as a stable for the animals or for wine storage. Many homes still house old wine presses, as well as more modern versions, for the production of the famous Vasa wine, as well as distilleries for the production of zivania.

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Vasa was also home to a number of skilled stonemasons. In addition to those involved in the building of houses, there were also craftsmen who built dry-stone walls on the slopes where the vineyards grew. During the arduous process of preparing an area of land for the cultivation of vineyards, the workers would extract large quantities of rock due to the morphology of the soil. The art of building with this type of stone was passed down from generation to generation, and came close to being completely lost with the decline of viticulture.

Churches

The Church of the Annunciation of the Virgin: This church was built during 1896-1900 in the Gothic style, featuring a chiseled stone dome. At the western entrance of the temple, there is a wood-carved shrine from 1912 which holds a silver icon of the Virgin. Much earlier, right beneath this church once stood the temple of Osios Varnavas.

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Cave and Chapel of Osios Varnavas: Just outside the village is the cave of Osios Varnavas, where he lived as an eremite and his remains were discovered. His chapel is also located next to this cave. Saint Cara of Osios Varnavas, as well part of his remains, are located in the central church of the village. On 11 June, the name day of the Saint, his remains are transported to the chapel for faithful pilgrims to worship. 

Agios Timonas Cave: Just beyond the Cave of Osios Varnavas, in the same rocky area, is the cave where Saint Timon lived as an ascetic. Sacred objects that were discovered in the cave are now stored at the Ecclesiastical Museum. 

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Chapel of Saint George: A 14th century chapel located at the entrance of the village, built in the cruciform, Byzantine style. The interior houses 15th century frescoes in excellent condition. According to tradition, the church acted as the monastery for Little Laura.

Chapel of Timios Prodromos: A small chapel located among the houses of the village, with a stone-built exterior and a beautiful, wood-carved iconostasis within.

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Museums

Museum of Primary Education: There were two schools in operation in Vasa during the early decades of the 20th century, initially made up of an all-girls and an all-boys school. In 1935, the two schools united, until 1986 when the school was discontinued due to a shortage of students after the wave of urbanization began to hit. Until about 1939-1940, there were up to 120 students at the school, but this number declined sharply in the subsequent years.

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Since 2010, the old all-boys school of Vasa has operated as the prototype, modern Museum of Primary Education, presenting the history of the school as well as the community itself, using digital media and interactive tools.

Zivania Museum: The Museum hosts exhibits which showcase the production process for zivania, as well as that of a daily rural household in Cyprus. Visitors can sample and purchase zivania, wine, jams, and other traditional Cypriot products.

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Ecclesiastical Museum: The Ecclesiastical Museum (99 131673) houses sacred relics preserved from religious monuments, such as the churches and caves where the Saints Varnavas and Timon lived. In addition to sacred images of fine art dating back to the 14th and 16th centuries, other objects on display include the medieval silver spoon with the stamp of the Lusignan Dynasty, shrines, censers, etc. ια κ.α.

Museum of Folk Tradition: This museum houses artefacts from the everyday life of rural residents at the start of the 20th century.

Nature trail

There is a path that begins from the chapel of Saint George and follows the river under the stone built bridge. When the water level of the river rises, the trail is inaccessible, but it is a beautiful route for the dry months of the year.

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Bridge

The double-decked bridge is located at the entrance of the village. It was built in the late 19th century, but extensive restoration works were carried out in 1954 due to damages it had suffered. This year is marked by a stone inscription on the bridge. One can easily access the bridge via a dirt road which leads to the riverbed.

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Wineries

The village continues its centuries-old tradition of viticulture and wine production, featuring two notable wineries, Argyrides (25 945999) and Papaioannou. The Argyrides winery is located at the entrance of the village, within a restored stone building, and anyone can visit and become acquainted with its wines. The Papaioannou winery is a recent addition to the village, and features modern facilities in the middle of the vast vineyards which supply it with grapes.

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Food - drink

The village offers excellent dining options. The traditional taverns of Pyrkos (99 491455) and Palati (99 649139) are located in the center of the village. Ariadne Tavern (25 944064, 25 942185.) is located just outside the village, on the way to the village of Mallia.

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The village coffee shops are located in the central square and are frequented by locals. In addition to the old, traditional coffee shop, the cafe 'I Ambelos' (99 348058) has also been in operation for the past few years. 

Accommodation

There are beautiful accommodation options in the idyllic surroundings of Vasa Koilaniou. The Arkela lodgings (25 375355), To Chorio (99 491455, 25 942655) and Oikia Roti (99 971971) are located in restored traditional homes in the center of the village, while Villa Mayzus is located just outside, among the serenity of the surrounding hills.

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Events

Palouze Festival: Early October marks the celebration of local grape products, with traditional palouze prepared for visitors on site.

Contact number: 25 942634


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