The island of Cyprus has a rich vinicultural history—the world’s oldest named wine, Commandaria, is produced only here. The island’s mineral-rich soils and diverse micro-climates are conducive to growing a wide range of grape varieties. A list of wines currently produced in Cyprus reveals some familiar ones, such as chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and shiraz, that yield very worthy wines. Yet there will be some varieties on the list that are unfamiliar to many—indigenous grapes you can’t find anywhere else. The best-known white variety, for example, is xynisteri. It produces dry or medium dry wines with flavours of green grass, herbs, citrus, and minerals; a xynisteri is a good companion for fried calamari and a village salad. Lesser grown white varieties include the lively and herbaceous spourtiko, aromatic and well-balanced promara, and crisp, light morokanela. Of the reds, the most popular indigenous variety is maratheftiko. It yields a full-bodied, deep red wine with berry flavours that perfectly complements lamb kleftiko and pasta dishes. Another notable local red, yiannoudi, is medium-bodied and gives spicy notes of anise, vanilla, and pepper; sip it with grilled meats or pizza with sausage topping. The most-grown red grape variety, mavro, is featured (with xynisteri) in Commandaria; try the dessert wine with dried fruits and blue cheeses. Cyprus wineries also produce some very good rosés through blends. Almyra’s restaurants offer a good sampling of local wines. Identify your favourite and then head to the source: the seven Cyprus Wine Routes take you to forty-one local producers.
The Ottoman Turks ruled Cyprus for over three hundred years, from 1571 to 1878. During this period, Cypriots gradually moved away from a rural, agricultural life as trading in the coastal cities fostered urbanisation. If you look carefully, you can find architectural remnants of the Ottoman presence in Pafos. At the main archaeological site of Kato Pafos, for example, rest the remains of the Hamam at Agia Kyriaki. The bath complex includes two domed chambers for warm and hot bathing and two cool chambers under a barrel-vaulted roof; it was first built in the medieval period and later modified by the Ottomans. The Ottomans transformed another structure, likely of Frankish origin, into a hamam near the current Municipal Market; the building has been restored and includes an historical exhibit along with a coffee shop. The bathhouse served Christian and Muslim residents alike up to the 1950s. Near the northern entrance to the market sits the Camii-Kebir—the grand mosque. It, too, represents an Ottoman conversion of an older structure, in this case the Byzantine era church of Agia Sofia. Its minaret is currently under conservation by the UN and the EU. The most visible evidence of the Ottoman intervention into the town’s architecture is hiding in plain sight: the medieval castle of Pafos Harbour. Built by the Franks in the 13th century, it was later modified and then destroyed by the Venetians before the Ottomans restored it in 1592. Now it stands as a prime example of the layers of history revealed in Pafos.
Just three kilometres from the centre of Pafos sits the town of Geroskipou, where you can become quickly immersed in the arts and crafts of Cyprus. A good first stop is the Folk Art Museum. Housed in an eighteenth-century dwelling, the museum will introduce you to beautiful specimens of pottery and woven goods like kilims and scarves. Next head to the central Geroskipou Square and its adjoining shops. Several are devoted to the production of loukoumia—commonly known in English as Cyprus Delight. See how this and other Cypriot sweets are made as you pass from shop to shop. You’ll also find handmade crafts (colourful baskets, clay pots) for purchase from their artisans. Look for Avgoustinos Pottery, where proprietor Avgoustinos Michael offers pottery classes as well as a selection of his own wares—it is just across the street from the Myth and Sculpture Park. Geroskipou has a history that stretches back to antiquity—its very name is a corruption of the ancient Greek for ‘sacred garden’, as a forest dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite was sited here. The ancient geographer Strabo described the annual procession to the Sanctuary of Aphrodite in Palaipafos passing through its grounds. More recently, the Byzantines built the Agia Paraskevi church in the ninth century on what is now the central square. Icons, frescoes, and other objects of veneration feature in the nearby Ecclesiastical Museum. A morning walk through Geroskipou is recommended, as the museums and shops have irregular afternoon hours.
How does an artist reflect on the immediate past? As Almyra launches its 2019 season of art exhibitions, this question is brought front and centre in a show opening on 23 February. The group exhibition ‘#recalling 2018’, curated by artists Katerina Fukara and Arsentiy Lysenko, prompts artists to choose any event from 2018—political or economic, private or public, global or local, major or minor—and make it the focus of an artistic expression. Artists were invited to use any medium or aesthetic practice to express themselves—including drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, video art, collage, poetry, music, or even a multimedia installation. The result is a collaborative reflection on 2018 for 2019—and one in a sequence of annual ‘#recalling’ exhibitions at Almyra. Fifty-two artists are included in the exhibition—one for each week of the year, coincidentally. The roster of contributors includes potter Avgoustinos Michael, conceptual artist Rinos Stefani, painter Susan Vargas, printmaker Hambis Tsangaris, poet Davoud Safdarian, and the curators themselves. The 23 February opening party starts at 19:00 in the Lobby. Many of the artists are likely to be on hand, and works are available for sale. The exhibition continues through 17 March.
Artists in Pafos have long decorated the surfaces of structures—think of the mosaic floors of Roman villas, the wall paintings in the Tombs of the Kings, or the frescoed ceilings in the monastery of Agios Neofytos. Take a walk around Pafos today, and you’ll see that this practice continues with an especially urban aesthetic. You might start near the cluster of coffee shops on Poseidonos Avenue, where a pedestrian pathway is lined by a concrete wall painted with over a dozen recent works. The heaviest concentration of contemporary street art, though, is found near Kennedy Square in the Old Town section. Stand in the square and look high above the Attikon arts complex to see a woman floating with a sea creature. Walk just a block toward the municipal market and find a car park ringed with images of an astronaut, a robotic hand, and other creatures; the collection includes a figurative work by Christos Avraam and a stencil of a peasant parking his donkey by Charis Christoforou, both noted Cypriot artists. Wander by the shops and cafes of the pedestrian zone and you’ll continue to be visually rewarded. Can you find the mural of a heavily bearded barber by Greek street artist/skateboarder Billy Gee? (Hint: It’s just around the corner from a shop that declares “Hippies Always Welcome” on its window). How about the work of cementography hanging on a wall nearby? Keep looking—there’s another mural just around the corner.
It’s a common resolution for the New Year: a vow to lose weight and get fit. When starting a new fitness regime, you need to define your goals and create a plan to achieve them. At Almyraspa, we offer two programmes specifically designed to set your new exercise routine on a solid footing. The Three-Day Lose Weight and Get Fit package avails you of three 90-minute sessions with a personal trainer. On the first day, spend 30 minutes discussing your weight loss goals before undertaking a 60-minute outdoor sweat and stretch session. The second day starts with a 30-minute discussion of nutrition followed by 60 minutes devoted to burning fat and toning the core. On the final day, you and your trainer will examine your fitness beliefs in a 30-minute talk before concluding with 60 minutes of high intensity interval training. You will emerge with a focused plan and the techniques to carry it out. We also offer an extended Six-Day Lose Weight and Get Fit package for those seeking to discover more exercise techniques. In addition to the sessions of the three-day package, this package includes consultations on fitness, positivity, and exercise along with a five-kilometre run on the coastal path, a five-kilometre interval run, and a 60-minute total body workout. Having completed 90-minute training sessions six days in a row, you’ll be well on your way to fitness. The packages are available for anyone over sixteen years of age. So why not follow through on that resolution? We’re here to help you get started.