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History of Palaichori
a story of many centuries

Southwest of Nicosia, at a distance of 42 kilometres, Palaichori is located. It has an altitude of 930 meters and is surrounded by high mountain tops. Which can reach up to 1200 meters in altitude. Its residents are about one thousand. The amphitheatrical placement it has is unique. Separated in the middle from a tributary river of the Serrachi river.

The division gives the two regions of Palaichori their corresponding names : Palaichori Orinis and Palaichori Morphou. The exquisite scenery was highlighted by the writer R.Gunnis in his book ‘Historic Cyprus’, when he visited in 1935.

The history of Palaihcori is lost along the unexplored past. We don’t have clues as to when exactly the first residents settled here, coming from the plains and seaside locations. However, it is certain that after the Arabic raids (the first from the caliph Mu’awiya I in 648/49 A.D.) the resident of the seaside regions begun settling systematically in the Troodos mountains, hence in the region of Pitsilia as well. This is how most of the current mountain villages of Cyprus were founded. A new Byzantine world was born. Pat of this world was Palaichori.

For the first time the name Palaichori (Palaiochorio) is referred to in 1237, just a few years after the Franks conquered Cyprus.The characteristic “paleo” confirms its existence already since the byzantine, at least, years. Moreover, since the name is Greek, its founding must be placed during the byzantine years, since of it was founded during the Frankish rule, it would probably have a foreign name. Hence, in 1237, Palaichori was conceded from the king of Cyprus Eric II to the Knights Templar of the Small Commandery of Temple (Kerinia) (S. Pauli, Codice diplomatico del Sacro Militare Ordine… vol. I. p. 127). According to de Mas Latri, Palaichori, after a decree by te French king Phillip IV, with a prompt of the Pope, was granted to the knight of St. John who had their headquarters in Kolossi. This happened after the dissolution og the Templar Knights, which took place between 1308 and 1314. In addition, during the Frankish rule (1192-1489) it had been a fief under the occupation of the large family of the house of Ibelin.

References of Palaichori are found in Venetian maps. All the chartigraphers, such as Fraco in 1570, Ortelius 1573, Blaeu 1653, Janssonius 1637 and Valk and Schenk in 1705, consistently give the name Palaichori. In a copy in the records of Venice on December 11th 1566, which mentions the liberation of the serfdom of Palaichori, the village is reffrenced as Puliocori.

In Palaichori notable monuments have been built. First of all are its temples. The most notable one, chronologically temple is the one of Apostle Luke, which was unfortunately demolished in 1924, to be replaced by a bigger one. From the old temple, only the bell tower was salvaged as well as a few pices of the chapiters and arches, which are now preserved in the adjacent old primary school. According tot G. Jeffery ( A Description of the Historic Monuments of Cyprus, Nicosia 1918), who visited Palaichori in 1916, on the floor of the old temple a section of the opus sectile was preserved, similar to the one in Acheiropoietos in Lampousa. This is especially important since it leads to dating long before the 10th century. The frescoes were intensely influenced by the Italian art of the 15th century.

Also, another important temple is the one of Panagia Chrysopantanassa found in the village centre. A gabled wooden roofed temple. Built in the 16h century. During the same century chronologically the excellent wall frescoes of the temple are also dated. In The Holy Pothesis, inside the temple’s chancel, the litterateur Nikos Nikolaides the Cypriot, left his stamp by illustrating in 1904 the Birth of the Christ.

However, the church that is the pride and joy of Palaichori is the Transfiguration of the Saviour ( Metamorfosi tou Sotiros), with frescoes that date back to the second decade of the 16th century, This small wooden roofed temple, belongs since December 2001 to the list of Monuments of World Heritage of UNESCO. The wall frescoes of the church are excellent and they are in good condition. The fresco ‘’Lady of Angels’’ (Kyria ton Aggelon), illustrated on the niche of the arch of the chancel, became a letter stamp of the State, while in another wall mural Saint Demetris and George are presented riding their horses. In Cyprus this is the only time the two saints are pictured together on horseback. In fact, Saint George had extended his arm and touched the shoulder of Saint Demetris. Finally, two more churches have murals : the church of Saint George and the chapel of Agioi Anargyroi Kosma and Damianou.

One of the two murals in the church if Saint George also belongs to Nikos Noklaides and illustrates Saint Marina and her testification. (1905)

Other important monuments of Palaichori are:
• The museum of Byzantine Heritage of Palaichori in the village centre, where rare ecclesiastical relics are housed.

• The medieval olive press and the old Primary School in the yard of the church if Apostle Luke.

• The hideout of Gregoris Afxentiou, house of Andreas and Maritsas Karaoli.

• The statue of the Cypriot Mother, which was placed on an eminence where it towers over the community, to remind everyone the participation of the citizens of Palaihori in the Liberation fight of EOKA and the sacrifice of its worthy children, Michalaki Karaoli, Kyriakos Matsi and Nikos Georgiou.

• The home pf the fighter Plikarpos Giorkatzis, in the village centre

• The home of the hero Kyriakos Matsi.

• The monument dedicated to the fallen and missing persons during the Turkish invasion in 1974, near the regional primary school: Antonis Pavlides, Andreas Kouroufexis, Andreas Savvopoulos, Nikos Poumbouris, Andreas Eleftheriadis and Georgios Pavlou

• The regions of exquisite natural beauty, such as the valley of Maroullenas and the region on the top of Papoytas at an altitude of 1554m.