Тоchni - tourist village in Cyprus | Cyprus Inform | Cyprus inform
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Деревня ТохниThe way for Christianity was paved by many saints, who, like the apostles, spread their faith amongst the people.

For Cyprus such saints are St Cоnstantine Ι and his mother St Elena. An icon with their images can be seen in practically every Cypriot church. The history of many Cypriot monasteries and churches are linked with their names one way or another. What is the reason?

We should start with the fact that in the 3rd century they stopped the persecution of Christians. And the powerful Roman empire became the centre of Christianity. But an even more important event for Cyprus was the pilgrimage of Saint Elena to Jerusalem, where she attained one of key Christian relics – fragments of Christ’s Cross. The legend says that on her return journey Elena left particles of the Cross on the island and founded several monasteries and churches.

The Stone Settlement

Деревня ТохниTo learn more about the deeds of the saints and their role in the history of Cypriot Christianity, we decided to go to Тоchni village, where the church of Saints Constantine and Elena is located.

The village of Tochni is located 35 kilometers from Larnaca and 30 kilometers from Limassol. You can get there via the highway Α1, or by the ‘old road’ marked in guide-books as Β1.

According to Cypriot chronicler Lеоnidis Маras, a settlement existed here as far back as the 3rd century BC.

For a long time, until 1974, Turkish Cypriots lived amongst the inhabitants of the village, this is why, apart from the Greek name of Τόχνη (Тоchni) the village also has the Turkish name of Taşkent (Таshkent).

The Greek word has no obvious translation, whilst the etymology of the Turkish name is very interesting. Taş- is translated as ‘stone’, ‘känt’ or ‘kent’ can be translated as ‘a city, a settlement.’ Тhis way we get ‘a stone settlement.’

So why this name ?. The answer is the beautiful stone favored by local architects for decoration of facades, that is mined on the outskirts of the village. The stone has the name tochni stone. We can assume that the stone has been mined here since time immemorial therefore giving its name to the settlement.

The modern outskirts of the village are not very picturesque, but do not despair and move on to the old central square. I can assure you that you will not be sorry for this! It is here, where small old houses are preserved, an impression of the Middle Ages with a clear eastern patina is felt.

 

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A Church On A Bridge

Деревня ТохниYou will notice an unusual architectural composition when approaching the square.

The church of Saint Constantine and Elena stands on a bridge. The river has dried up, but judging by the depth of the ditch, there used to be quite a lot of water. It is quite possible that the ditch fills up in winter when the rainfall is sufficient.

Local historians and clergy say that the church was first founded here in 327 by St Elena herself, when she was returning with pieces of found relics from Jerusalem. There is no direct proof of the fact, but there is also no proof of Saint Elena’s sojourn on the island or of her ship wreckage here.

But having said that the appearance of several monasteries and churches in Cyprus at the same time are linked to her name. They include the famous monastery Stavrovouni, where a particle of the Cross is kept, the monastery of the Cross in the village of Оmodos and mоnastery of St Constantine and Elena, which is located not far from the village of Кouklia.

Since the exact dates of the founding of these monasteries are not known, it is hardly possible to restore or confirm the exact historical events of those times now. And is it really necessary?

On May 21, on the day of the veneration of Saints Constantine and Elena, hundreds of believers come to the Tochni church from adjacent towns and villages. On this day, apart from a celebrating service, a fair is also organized on the square in front of the church, and all guests inevitably take part in the festive atmosphere.

There is a small museum of icons next to the church on the square. The bulk of works on show there were painted in the 16-17th centuries. The icon of Saint Dimitri painted by Fеоphan Кеsareas is worthy of special attention as well as the icon of Saint Mаmаs. Church service items are also on show in the museum.

If you climb the narrow staircase from the square, you can also enjoy a wonderful view of the cathedral and ruins of the Saint Stavros church, which dates back to the 14th century.

Тоchni is one of a handful of Cypriot villages, which has a working mosque. It is in good condition, although there is no minaret. And many Muslims, who live nearby, gather there on Friday nights to pray.

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Leisure Time in Tochni

Local authorities try to make tourists’ leisure time as varied as possible in all possible ways.

This is why apart from interesting bicycle and hiking routes, which start right in the village, adventure travelers are can try out rock-climbing on a vertical wall on the northern outskirts of the village.

Obviously this is only for people who are already familiar and trained in the sport and have the necessary skills and also equipment of their own, because no facilities for training been created in the area.

For those who like to plan long journeys, we can suggest combining a trip to Тоchni with a visit to the monastery Stavrovouni or maybe villages Lefkara and Vаvatsinia.