In medieval times Cyprus was always renowned for its wine, which according to an Italian traveller of the 16th century, “it possesses some healing qualities like a balm for the human organism”. Vine growing is mainly developed in the region of Limassol where the biggest wine industries are set up. Cypriot wines, which have in many cases been the inspiration of poets and novelists, have not been neglected throughout the centuries.
The cultivation of the vine in Cyprus is as ancient as the roots of the people of Cyprus. The cultivation of the vine in Lemesos is also as ancient as the Kingdom of Amathus and Curium many centuries B.C. It is a well-known fact confirmed by various historical references that wine has been produced in Cyprus for over 4,000 years until now. There are many other reasons for the excellent wine of Cyprus. In the surrounding areas of most villages of Lemesos the vine found a hospitable environment, climate and suitable soil; and so men cultivated the vine with love and devotion.
Many of these vines can still be seen today while passing through the areas of the wine villages and it is these vine-yards that excite the admiration of the foreign visitors and wine-traders alike.
In 1987 during the General Assembly of the International Office of the Vine and Wine, which took place at Marino in Italy, Lemesos was declared as the “City of Vine and Wine” and the president of the International Office of the Vine and Wine, Mr. Mario Fregoni, awarded a medal and diploma to the Mayor of Lemesos.
One of the most anticipated events of the year in Cyprus is the Wine festival in Lemesos which takes place in early September providing the biggest street event in Cyprus, which lasts for almost two weeks. Although festivities take place in towns all over the island, Lemesos hosts the most famous merrymaking. Celebrating the island’s most precious natural produce, the grape, wine making has an extremely long history on the island and is toasted every September in the town’s Municipal Gardens.
The Wine Festival is an event which has direct connection with humanity and has been an activity of the human race since ancient times when similar feasts were held related to wine. The festival can be regarded as a variant in some way; as a revival of ancient festive manifestations of worship in honour of Dionysus, the god of vine and wine and Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love.
The 12 days of these Dionysian celebrations at this hugely popular event have taken place annually and officially since 1961. With casks of free wine from the local wine industries, as well as live music, theatre performances, traditional dances and food make Lemesos Wine festival a great way to experience some of Cyprus’s culture and mythology as well as excellent local produce and entertainment.
The feast of tastings and buffets attracts over 100,000 people at the gardens’ open-air theatre.
One of the greatest Mediterranean harbours for the transhipment of goods after the tragic events of the Turkish invasion occurred in 1974, Lemesos has since developed rapidly and is one of the most important maritime, commercial, tourism and service centres in the area.
With more than 50 boutique wineries dotted across the Troodos Mountains, a day sampling their products is also recommended.
An ideal place to pop the cork is the Krassohoria wine villages, where you can check out the Agia Mavri Winery and its award-winning white muscat. At 1100 meters altitude its climate and soil are ideal for the production of quality wines. The winery has been planting their own vines with the traditional local and foreign grape varieties for the production of white and red wine. They use the indigenous varieties Mavro and Xynisteri as well as Cabernet, Grenache, Carignan, Mataro, Riesling and Chardonnay.
But perhaps the most important of all of these things is the people of Lemesos. The kindness, hospitality and an open heart make Lemesos an excellent place to ponder.
Lemesos is also known for its long tradition in cultural issues. Visitors can attend a great number of activities as well as museums and archaeological sites which combine in a unique way, ancient, Frank, Byzantine and other modern historic influences.