Pafos | Culture in the heart of nature
Text: Ioanna Christodoulou
Photos: Silvio Rusmigo
Lemba is a landscape of natural beauty connecting the coast to a lush valley.
The hospitable inhabitants respect the cultural heritage of the region; a complex history that unfolds over millennia. Journey back to yesteryear for an experience of a lifetime.
A 4.5-kilometre drive north from Pafos will bring you to a beautiful coastal plain. The idyllic landscape that unfolds before you is bathed in light, and the surrounding plains contain a history that dates back tens of thousands of years into prehistory. The area is replete with antiquities, the most significant being the settlement at Lakkoi, which dates from the Bronze Age. The region is named for a neighbouring village that, before the Frankish occupation, was called ‘Emba’. The addition of the French article for the results in L’Emba – thus, Lemba. One of the area’s most important finds is a female cult figurine depicting The Lady of Lemba, the forebear to Cypriot Aphrodite. She can be admired up close in the Archaeological Museum Pafos District.
In a Sea of Green and Blue
Commence walking in the natural Park of Flowers. You’ll be impressed by the park’s rare biodiversity and scenery and charmed by the sound of water purling year-round in streams. Locals have a long relationship with terebins trees (Pistacia terebinthus), using their seeds in baking delicious pies and in making therapeutic terebinth oil. A rare plant endemic to the valley is Bosea cypria, which locals call ‘Zoulaki’, and an 800-year-old carob tree under the protection of the Forestry Division. If you’re a lover of nature, explore the impressive stalactites in the cave near the natural spring. If you visit the area with children, there are seven verdant locales in and around the village incorporating specially designed playgrounds that are great for families. Lemba is built on high ground between the rivers Kotzia and Taisi. Both eventually make their way to Sandy Beach, an ideal spot for surfing. It’s one of the cleanest beaches in Cyprus, which is why it’s been awarded the Blue Flag.
Arts, Culture and a Magical Sunset
As a visitor, you’ll be welcomed with the famed hospitality the villagers are known for. The area is also famous for its magical sunsets. The park, a lush expanse of fifty hectares with commanding views over the entire region, is the best vantage point to watch the sun dip below the horizon. In the area of the Cultural Centre, you can relax and enjoy refreshments while taking in the romantic sunset. Inside the village, the recently renovated church of Ayios Stefanos, built on the foundations of an older church, is well worth visiting. The other two churches in the area are dedicated to Ayia Marina and the Archangel, respectively. Lemba’s cultural credentials also include the four-decades-old Archaeological Research Centre.
The Stass Paraskos College of Art also breathes life into the area, welcoming visual arts students from Cyprus and abroad. The college and its student body contribute tangibly to the Cypriot arts and culture scene. An example is an alfresco sculpture known as Great Wall of Lemba. It’s one of many works that you must see. This outstanding piece was created by Stass Paraskos, a pioneering artist for which the art school is named. It and other fine works are displayed in the school’s beautiful sculpture park. Due to this, Lemba received official recognition as a Cultural Village of Cyprus in 2008.
When planning your itinerary for Lemba, an absolute must is a visit to the Chalcolithic settlement and its reconstructions of period dwellings. Lemba was the island’s first centre of ceramics production and export from 1200 to 1300 CE. The village produced ‘aleifta’, traditional glazed ceramics decorated with simple free-form designs, used as everyday domestic wares. Today, the village is still closely associated with this tradition, embodied as it is by the community’s current generation of potters. In the near future, new facilities will house the cultural village of Lemba where the art of ceramics will be taught along with painting and sculpture. It is a certainty that, as you explore the village and its verdant surroundings, you’ll discover that Lemba is a destination where the past and present combine perfectly within a historical landscape of fairytale quality.
The Park of Lemba is recorded as unique in its kind thanks to the water sources that flow there throughout the year and contribute to the rare biodiversity of the area.
A natural cave with stalactite remains, an eight hundred- year-old carob tree and the beautiful Sandy Beach, ideal for those who love surfing.
The Cultural Centre of Lemba, the Chalcolithic settlement and the Stass Paraskos College of Art.
Countless ceramic finds were made in Lemba, with the tradition of pottery continuing to this day and being passed on to the next generations.
You will be impressed by the Flower Park’s rare biodiversity.