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Villages Of Cyprus - Choletria Village

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Information on Choletria Village

Choletria Village                                                                         Photo © CyprusExpat.co.uk

Choletria Village is divided into two parts, Old Choletria Village and New Choletria Village. The name of the village is confusing because all the signs and maps only show one village, Choletria Village. The information in this article only relates to (Old) Choletria Village.

Choletria Village is located in the Paphos District of Cyprus and lies close to Nata, Eledio, Axylou, Episkopi and Stavrokonnou villages. The scenic route to visit Choletria Village is to travel to Nata Village, then cross the Xeros River bridge. Choletria Village lies a short distance from the bridge further up the mountain.

The village is built at an average height of 150 metres above sea level and the location of the village offers stunning views of the mountain ranges, the Xeros Bridge and the Xeros River valley.

Choletria Village has a long history, with it's origins traced back nearly 500 years. The village has suffered through the years, which led to the village location changing twice.

The original location of the village, called Agia Irene (Saint Irene) was along the Xeros River Delta. The flat lands provided excellent grazing for the livestock of the village. The location of the village also provided ample opportunities for roaming armies, especially the Saracens, to attack the village, as it was easily visible from their ships. The village was attacked, pillaged and burnt down several times, until the villagers decided to relocate the village to a much more secure site.

The present location of Choletria Village is surrounded on three sides by mountains, and on the other side by the Xeros River. The mountains provides protection from attackers, as well as the cold winter weather. The river also provides protection, as well as an ample water supply. The village is also surrounded by Xeros Valley fertile lands, ideal for livestock and agriculture.

Choletria Village acquired it's name, according to legend, from the location of the village. The village lies at the foot of a mountain range, with the Xeros River behind. The water from the mountains travels along a route resembling a gutter, and flows into the river. The Greek word for gutter is Choletra, which over time changed to it's present name of Choletria.

The village thrived in the new location, with large herds of livestock and the cultivation of vineyards, olive trees, carob trees and citrus trees. The fertile land also led to many fields dedicated to growing wheat, as well as a large variety of vegetables.

The first major disaster struck the village in the form of a very strong earthquake. On 10 September 1953 a very large earthquake struck the Paphos District of Cyprus, resulting in the major destruction of many villages in the area, including Choletria. The earthquake destroyed many homes and severely damaged many more. The villagers feared another earthquake could hit the village at any time and pleaded with the British government, Cyprus was still under British rule at the time, to be given help to relocate the village to another safer site. The government declined their request, and instead helped with the restoration of the village, as well as erecting pre fabricated homes. Village life continued, but with the fear of another earthquake, some villagers decided to leave, with the majority moving to Paphos.

The second disaster came in the winter of 1967. The region experienced a very severe winter, culminating in long spells with very heavy rainfall. The result was major landslides devastating the village. The large amount of water running through the mountains, also created strong underground river streams, with the consequence of making the land shudder with violent shakes above ground. The village homes were once again destroyed.

The following winter also proved to be one of extreme heavy rainfall, and more village homes were destroyed or badly damaged. The village had become unsafe once again, and the Cyprus government agreed to relocate the village.The new village was a few kilometres away, further up the mountain. Work to build the new village began in 1971 and the first families started to move into their new village in 1975. The government compensated the villagers by giving them new homes and some land at no cost to the villagers. The villagers were also allowed to keep their old homes in the old village. 

The original Choletria Village church was built at the original site of the village at Agia Irene, close to the Xeros River. The church suffered major damage due the 1953 earthquake. The cost to rebuild the church was estimated to be over one thousand Cyprus Pounds, a large amount of money for the villagers at that time. The decision was made to build a new church in the village, and to build it to withstand earthquakes. The new church was built in 1954.

The new church sadly was not built to the correct standards required for modern buildings and especially buildings built to withstand earthquakes. Over time the church was facing major problems with cracks along the walls and in the roof. The result of this was large scale leaking, leading to serious damage to the interior. On Christmas Day 1974 the church collapsed and the remains are still visible today.

A new church was built in 1984, using modern methods and able to withstand earthquakes. The new church was named Saint Pantelemonas Church and is situated at the highest dominant point of the village. The church holds three major services during the year. The first Monday following the Greek Orthodox Easter, 27 July celebrating Agios Pantelemonas and 26 October celebrating Agios Dimitriou.

The population of Choletria Village has declined over the years and the current population consists of only 20 people. The residents mainly work or study in the surrounding area, or commute to Paphos.

Choletria Village has recently seen a willigness of some earlier residents to return to the village to begin renovating their old damaged homes. The homes are mainly used as second homes for weekends, public holidays or during the summer months.

The old village spring, Pano Vrysi, is still in operation. The water from the spring has supplied the village for use as drinking water, cooking, washing, irrigation for their crops and for their livestock. The area around the spring has recently been renovated for use as a recreational area, where families may have a picnic or souvla, and admire the views.

Choletria Village still has many scars from the earthquake and the shaking ground, with many old ruins still visible. The old church lays in ruins, a poignant reminder of the devastation that once occurred in the village.

Choletria Village                                                                         Photo © CyprusExpat.co.uk

Choletria Village                                                                         Photo © CyprusExpat.co.uk

Choletria Village                                                                         Photo © CyprusExpat.co.uk

Choletria Village                                                                         Photo © CyprusExpat.co.uk

Choletria Village                                                                         Photo © CyprusExpat.co.uk

© CyprusExpat.co.uk

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