Last Updated on 12th March 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
Surrounded by the Troodos mountains and overlooking the sea, Pano Lefkara (Πάνω Λεύκαρα in Greek) is a beautiful Cyprus settlement. Characterised by its countless cobbled lanes and traditional stone cottages, the village is best-known for its traditional embroidery techniques and silversmithing. Here’s a guide to the best of Lefkara.
Pano Lefkara Guide: Is This the Prettiest Village in Cyprus?
Should you be planning a visit to Cyrpus, you won’t want to miss out on a trip to what may well be the prettiest village in Cyrpus. Lefkara in Greek quite literally means ‘white hills’ and it can be found within the Larnaca district. Visit in the late winter/ early spring and you’ll even find the almond trees in bloom!
With stunning views of the surrounding Cyprus landscape and all the way down to the sea, in high season the village can be reached by bus from Koufino (which, in turn, can be reached by public transport from Larnaca). Best explored over the course of a day, head here mid-week and off-season so as to avoid the crowds!
Though the village has been inhabited since Neolithic times, the first attestation of the ‘Lefkara’ name was by Saint Neophytos who was born in the area in the 12th-century. Lefkara itself is pretty large in size as it’s divided into two parts; there’s an upper “pano” and lower “kato” village, though the“pano” settlement is where most of the touristic activities and cultural attractions can be found.
Lefkaritiko: The Needlecraft Lace that even Leonardo da Vinci admired
Internationally, the settlement is best-known for its folk needlecraft. So iconic is this art that it’s now listed on the UNESCO Intangible World Heritage list. This time-consuming craft has been undertaken by the women of Lefkara for centuries and it goes a little like this: the less linen in the final product, the more time has been spent on the piece.
In 1481, Leonardo da Vinci visited Cyprus, and more specifically Pano Lefkara. While there, Da Vinci allegedly took samples of the embroidery with him back to Milano, in what is now Northern Italy. He was so inspired by the craft that he incorporated the design into the tablecloth decoration in the ‘Last Supper painting.’
As a homage to the Italian grandmaster, the specific pattern is now known as the da Vinci zigzag and a Lefkara embroidered cloth now graces the altarpiece of the Duomo di Milano. All products must be handmade so as to be considered ‘Lefkaritiko’ and individual pieces can take years to make.
For a glimpse of the needlecraft and embroidery/ lace for yourself, I recommend visiting the Rouvis shop. A family run business, linen is sourced from Ireland and Belgium while the cotton (for the thread) is sourced from France and Greece. Other UNESCO listed attractions in Cyprus of note include the town of Paphos and the Kourion Archaeological Site.
Filigree Silver from Lefkara
Though found throughout the rest of Europe and beyond, filigree silver is a craft which can be found in Pano Lefkara. Traditionally undertaken by the men of the village, this art form consists of weaving threads of silver to form intricate patterns. Impossible to forge in other metals, items produced include jewellery, spoons, crosses, and candle burners.
Things to see and do in Pano Lefkara
For those who are interested in food, history, and culture, Lefkara offers all this and more. If you have time to spare, then I recommend simply meandering the town and seeing where your feet take you. After all, this is the best way to uncover the balconies, floral displays, and Neo-Classical features that Lefkara contains. While in the village, be sure to also look out for the blue and white walls; a feature unique to this part of Cyprus.
Local Ethnological Museum of Traditional Embroidery and Silversmith-work: Located in the heart of the town, this museum showcases the best of the local crafts that Lefkara has to offer. The museum is housed within the House of Patsalos and is constructed of the traditional limestone from the area.
Old Churches and Chapels: Throughout the village and the surrounding countryside, you’ll soon discover that there’s a myriad of ecclesiastical buildings worth discovering. Some even date back to the 11th-century.
Timios Stavros Church: Dedicated to the Holy Cross, this church dates all the way back to the 14th-century. Other highlights of this historic church include a portable icon which is from the 18th-century, as well as a 19th-century bell tower.