Today we are visiting one of the most beautiful mountain villages in Cyprus – Vasa village. It seems that we’ve travelled a lot already, but during each of the trips we do not get tired of discovering something new.
Every Cypriot village has something different, especially if you compare the Troodos mountain villages to villages in the district of Famagusta, Nicosia and Paphos, which are located on flat territory.
Wine region in Cyprus
The village is located about 40 km to the north of Limassol. Travelling from Limassol and Paphos, look for the signs leading to Omodos village; the signs will appear closer to the village. The most easy way is the following: on the Limassol – Paphos highway look for signs to Kourion beach (not to be confused with Kourion dam!). Turning, continue to go to Omodos and as you are nearer to the village, the name of Vasa will appear.
Vasa is one of the most important regional winemaking villages, since almost half of the agricultural land is covered with vineyards. It also produces one of the best red wines in Cyprus and the most superb zivanias.
The village was founded more than 1,000 years ago. Now it cherishes the legacy of the past centuries. Vasa is located at the altitude of 790 meters above sea level.
The interesting story is the name of the village: in ancient Greek «vassa» or «vessa» means “wooded valley”. Its “golden age” was during the British rule, when the island began to develop its winemaking. At the same time the number of inhabitants of the village increased more than 2 times (in 1946, 870 people lived here).
After World War II, as well as in the other wine-producing villages of Cyprus, a crisis took place in Vasa, and by 2001 the population of the village was reduced to 120 people. But later on, Vasa began to develop as a tourist center, where they carefully preserved the ancient traditions.
The picturesque Vasa village was built in the traditional Cypriot style, and the streets are paved with stone. There, you will definitely have the impression that time has stopped. Easily stroll on them and get a “taste of Cyprus”; sit in one of the local cafés.
According to tradition, the local coffee shop is visited only by men, but they make exceptions for the guests and do not express any displeasure.
It will be interesting to visit the local church, in the museum of which you can marvel at the old icons and church utensils. You can come at almost any day, but you will need to contact the local priest.
The Zivania Museum in Vasa
In Vasa village you can also visit the only zivania museum in Cyprus. The museum was founded not long time ago, in 2013, and its creation was made possible thanks to the joint efforts of the European Fund for Agricultural Development, the Government of Cyprus and the villagers. The museum is built in the traditional Cypriot sandstone style.
Visitors entering the museum go back to the days when they used the traditional methods of wine production and zivania. You can feel how the Cypriots were living in those times: take a look at the laid table, the laid bed and the tidy room.
The cost of visiting the museum is 2 euros, including wine and zivania tasting. Stroll around the small room, and then taste the local zivania and red wine. In addition, you will be able to rest at the café in the museum, which offers regional products and sweets made from grapes.
The museum is open daily from 8 am to 13 pm and on Saturdays up to 15:00. At the end of the visit you should definitely visit the small souvenir shop, because some of the products and gifts can only be purchased here. We especially liked the little wine glasses for zivania, on which you will find the Russian inscription “To your health.”
Festivals in Vasa
On September 14th 2014, part of the annual celebration of the Wine Festival in Cyprus took place here, which was held until November 9th. During that period in the zivania museum there was a demonstration of traditional Cypriot arts and crafts, free Cypriot sweets were offered, the distillation process of zivania was carried out, riding on donkeys and conducted tours to village museums and churches were also available.
September in Cyprus is a season for harvest, and the holidays are devoted to it. In Vasa village you can also take part in another event – the paluze festival. What is it?
Paluze is boiled grape juice with the addition of starch and flour. This sweet grape syrup solidifies upon cooling. It is very sweet, and to eat more than 3-5 spoons is difficult.
Paluzes is the basis for the preparation of the traditional sweet sudzhukos – a Georgian counterpart of churchkhelas – almond grape molasses.
On this holiday, like all Cypriot festivals you will enjoy a lot of fun, a lot of food and the welcoming smiles of the locals. You will see how the Cypriot women make paluze by mixing all ingredients in large boilers.
Here in village you can buy local red wine and zivania. Despite the low price (about 15 euros for a 4-liter canister), the wine is of excellent quality. As noted above, the local village wine is considered one of the best in Cyprus.
The evening comes and before the trip back, we are located in one of the village’s café. Sit on the chairs, on both sides of the narrow road, and watch the everyday village life. Do not be surprised if the locals will turn to you, trying to learn how and where you spent your time on the island so far.
Each arrival in the village is a small event, so do not deny youselves the pleasure of the welcoming Cypriots’ chit-chat!