Venetian Bridges of Cyprus (EN)
Time for another outing with my friend Achilleas Askotis and EuSouth&East Motorcycle Journeys, through mountains and dirt roads once again, in order to explore Venetian bridges spread throughout the island. These bridges were used to connect most of the mountainous areas and villages, and in some cases even provinces, bridging large rivers and streams of the island.
These bridges are called Venetian because they were built during the Venetian rule (1487 - 1571) on the island of Cyprus, with the purpose of providing the occupiers easy access to the island's natural resources; but the bridges also served to facilitate travelling for people on the island for hundreds of years to follow.
It’s half past eight and we’re already en route toward the mountain areas of Troodos, to the Xyliatou dam, whereby is located the homonymous Venetian bridge which is built over the Elia river that flows into the dam.
Xyliatou bridge is also known as Lagouderon bridge. It was used to connect the Pitsilia villages from the mountainsides of Madari. The access to it is very easy since it’s located close to the main road, and if you pay attention you might see it behind the newer bridge that was built over it years after.
We proceeded crossing the mountain through dirt roads to reach the village Platanistasa, where we had our first stop for coffee. Although the mileage was not much, it took us about an hour due to our slow speeds.
Next stop was Akapnou where we managed to increase our speed on the asphalt, and after passing through Alona, Palechori, Farmakas, Ayious Vavatsinias and Ora, we reached our destination which was the Venetian bridge of Akapnous.
It joins the villages of the region together, over the tributary of Vasilopotamos. On the east side there are remains of the stone foundations of the road which joined with the bridge. This bridge consists of two arcs or arches, so in the Cypriot dialect one could refer to it as “diplokamaro” (double-arched).
We headed west towards Paphos, passed through paths with green scenery, nice road surface and fast corners to get to Kalo Chorio, Limassol where we took an older road which is connected to Ayios Mamas. Halfway there is a quarry, where another bridge is located, and although one may literally pass beside it, it is very difficult to see it as it is lower in height compared to the bridge that was built later.
Achilleas mentioned that he was looking for it for some time and that he had found it by accident; indeed, I had passed through the area several times but did not notice before that day. The Venetian bridge of Agios Minas is hardly known, and so there is no information about it.
A few kilometers farther is located the Venetian bridge of Trimiklini. It was build of stone from the bed of Kourris river. This bridge connected Nicosia district with Pafos district.
We took off for the nearby village of Koilani where we made a nice big stop to eat and drink some beer. We had our lunch in the small square of the village in a football club building that had a fireplace as well and we enjoyed everything that Achilleas prepared for us.
The owner gave us some commndaria wine and Zivanomelo (Its made with the local drink of Zivania boiled with honey) for the road and after one and a half hour break we were on the orad again for our next stop, some kilometres further.
Passing from the nearby village of Foini, we skipped the main road and we went through the narrow streets of the village to find another bridge hidden in the dence vegetation that Diarizos river formed. The bridge of Foini is renovated because it is still in use.
Some kilometres from Foini there is another bridge that is called Piskopou bridge.
According to tradition, it took its name from the bishops of St. Anargyroi, that used the bridge for their
transition to Paphos. The bridge has a semicircular opening bow of 8.90 meters and width of 2.40 meters.
Under the "Bridge of Piskopou" crosses the river Diarizos (Two roots), one root of which stems from the Foini.
We continued to the last bridge of the first day. The bridge of Mylos.
It is connecting the areas Kaminaria and Treis Elies , overthe homonymous River of Mylos
With the nearby bridge of Treis Elies which lies two hundred meters further, are joining the rivers of Mylos and Dracontas.
The time was half past four, when we left the last bridge for our final destination of the day, Milikouri village. This beautiful village is located in the mountainous area of Troodos at an altitude of about 800 meters. It is the closest village to the famous Monastery of Kykkos. It belongs to the province of Nicosia and geographically in the apartment Marathasa. It defines itself as the village of legends and traditions, having existed since medieval times, so there are different traditions as to how the name originated, but many legends have come through this lovely village.
A legend says that from there began the downward spiral of Chasampoulia, famous bandits of the island who shot the bell tower of the Church of St. George and as they descended from the village with their horses, they were hearing behind them another horse that was following them without seeing something. It was St. George as the legend says that was following them.
In the churchyard there is the monument which was erected at the expense of the Kykkos Monastery with busts of the villagers who honored their village and missing persons who served the liberation struggle of EOKA.
More important was the Archbishop of Ankara and later Metropolitan, Lokridos Agathangelos Myrianthousis (1780-1852). He boasts multidimensional spiritual work and active participation in the Greek Revolution of 1821. In rthe campaign in Roumeli, he was indeed the most direct collaborator of Demetrius Ypsilantis.
Milikouri has a hostel for visitors and a nice traditional tavern in the village square where you can enjoy traditional food from the hands of Mrs. Mary, and offcourse traditional wine and zivania producted in the village.
The next morning welcomed us with clear sky and the sun shining. We went down to the tavern where the Lady Mary made us breakfast and coffee and sandwiches for the trip.
We followed the dirt road from Milikouri up Komititzii picnic area, which is extremely impressive, and passes near the Diarizos and length is about ten kilometers. We enjoyed the route of the green landscape with tall trees that create a variety of formations, while the sun's rays were passing through them.
I would describe it as the most beautiful dirt road that exists on the island of Cyprus and as Achilles characterizes the Valia Calda of Cyprus.
At the end of this route is the Venetian Bridge of Elia.
Located just a few meters from the junction of the river of Kaminaria and river Phiniotis, which then form together with other tributaries the river of Diarizos.
It took its name from the unique Olive tree that was in the place where they built it. In the old days it was the only channel for accessing the Phiniotis by travelers traveling to and from Paphos. From this bridge, the road led to Vretsia village and from there to the Paphos villages.
The bridge Elia is located four kilometers before the village Kaminaria and two kilometers north of Tzielefos bridge
The bridge of Tzielefos is the best known Venetian bridge of Cyprus.
This Medieval stone bridge which is the largest in Cyprus is built on the river Diarizos whom the people called “Barbarian” as well because of the noise that the waters made.
The bridge used in older times to connect the western villages of the bank, Milikouri, Vretsia and
St. John the villages to the east, Agios Nikolaos, Kaminaria and Treis Elies
After we crossed easily the low water of Diarizos, we traveled down a dirt road to find the bridge of Roudias, which is one of the most famous Venetian bridges after Elias bridge and Tzielefos bridge
This bridge is situated on the Xeros River at an altitude of 300 meters. The name comes from the plant Roudi in Cypriot language “Soumatzi”, which abound in the area. According to previous information the bridge had a great pointed chamber. In 1953 it was destroyed by an earthquake and the restoration was considered expensive, then the amount of 280 pounds. There were thoughts of demolition, which fortunately were rejected, so in 1977 the restoration began of the sum of 2500 pounds.
The next village was Panagia of Paphos for coffee break. The village is very famous in Cyprus since it was the birthplace of Archbishop Makarios, who was also the first president of the Republic. In the village you can visit the ancestral home of Makarios and the relevant museum. We sat down for a quick coffee at one of the cafes of the village before continuing to the last bridge on the route.
We followed the main artery that connects the villages of Paphos to Simou village, where is the bridge of Skarfos.
It is located in the river Skarfos from which it took its name. According to an inscription plate is disposed in the bridge built in 1618. AD .. It is a single bridge with an opening of the arc of 8.50 meters and a width of the carriageway of 2.75 meters.
We started returning to Nicosia through Stavros tis Psokas in beautiful green countryside with fast speeds since we wanted to get to Nicosia before dark.
The trek was very impressive for most of the group, who didn’t have the chance to visit those bridges before as well as for those who didn’t knew of their existence.
All these bridges were part of the life of Cypriots as they were the streets and accesses to other areas of the island.
Thank you Achilleas and EuSouth & East Motorcycle Journeys for research and planning of the route.