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Alektora: a story of many centuries
Alektora is a small Cypriot village located 42 kilometres west of Limassol, 230 metres above sea level, on the frontier of the provinces of Limassol and Paphos. The northern slopes are approximately 500 metres tall. The village is surrounded by the Kolyvos escarpment and the Varvatses hill. The village is dispersed in a valley filled with vineyards, olive trees, citrus fruit trees, carob trees, almond trees, and some cereals, while the surrounding hills are covered in dense vegetation. After the Turkish invasion, Greek Cypriots who were displaced from their own villages sought refuge there.

The village is bordered to the south and southeast by Pissouri, to the east by Platanistia, to the north by Pano Archimandrita, and to the west by Kouklia. Other neighbouring communities include Agios Thomas, Avdimou, and Paramali.

Administratively, the village is part of Limassol, but religiously, it is part of Paphos.

Alectora was formerly known by a variety of names, including Alephkora, Alectra, Alectora, Alectora, Alectora, and Yalectora.The origin of the name Alektora is likely the word alektor, which signifies rooster. Hermeneutically, the term o – signifies the one who dispels obscurity and ushers in the dawn. Notable is the fact that in 1958 the village’s Turkish & Cypriot residents acquired the alternative name “Gokaac,” which means “tree of the sky.” According to a tradition cited by N.G. Kyriazis, the village received its name because “persecuted holy fathers fleeing in the dead of night from Pissuri… arrived here at the call of the elector.” The village’s name is feminine, but we should not be perplexed because this is not an uncommon occurrence. There are additional localities in Cyprus whose names have been feminised. For example, the Saviour is derived from the Saviour. The appellation Alektora corresponds, according to the 1st century philosopher Dion Chrysostomos, to a fortress in the Vorysthenes region, near the Dnieper River, on the Black Sea coast. Alektor is also the name of five historical and mythological figures in classical antiquity. Do you mean to imply that these individuals have something to do with the name of the town? Given that the island is dotted with locations with ancient Greek names, nothing is ruled out.

The village has a very ancient history, and the village estates were also ancient settlements. During the period of the Roman Empire (beginning of the first millennium), the plain of the village was used for the production of pine nuts by residents of neighbouring villages. The pine kernel was prized in the Roman Empire for its aphrodisiac properties, which have been known since antiquity. In subsequent centuries, the agricultural use of the plain alters, and the pine trees are replaced by sweet fruit vineyards. Vineyards that produce the black and white grapes that carry the name “Xynisteri” and from which the “Apostle of wines” Koumandaria is produced, with the correct proportions and aromatic additions. The cultivation of sultanas was introduced to Cyprus in the 20th century. After 1950, this particular variety was first cultivated in Alektoras. This species was introduced to the region by Evagoras Lanitis. Leontios Machairas (a 15th-century Cypriot chronicler) and de Mas Latrie (a 19th-century French historian) both mention the village, so it existed during the Frankish occupation. During the time of the Franks, it was a sovereign fiefdom. When the inhabitants of the village were exterminated or relocated interior, the village was settled by a population of Syrians and Palestinians who had been uprooted by the Crusades. It is mentioned in passing that Alektor’s “relationship” with Palestine was “revived” at the start of the 20th century, when a fourteen-year-old resident of Alektor named Fetine married against her will to a much older Palestinian, who took her away from her family and has never been seen since. Her home in Alektora still exists. Her case was the subject of a documentary completed by the journalist granddaughter of her brother, Pembe Mendes, who discovered her existence and followed in her footsteps in recent years. Sadly, he never met her because she had already passed away. However, she met her grandmother’s enormous family. During the time of the Ottoman Empire, the inhabitants of Alektora were compelled to convert to Islam in order to avoid paying hefty taxes and Ottoman persecution. However, they operated in secret Christian gatherings at night and in secrecy from them. In other words, they evolved into the renowned Linovamvakos (they were called Linovamvakos because they resembled a garment with linen on one side and cotton on the other). Alektora somehow became a Turkish & Cypriot hamlet. Alektora was a purely Christian village for centuries and was occasionally depicted as a mixed one. The Turkification and colonisation of Circassian-origin Turks from Anatolia occurred in the first half of the 17th century. According to Goodwin, the village was Turkish at the time and belonged to Eudem, a veteran. During the British occupancy, H.H. Kitchener (count, senior officer of the British army, served in Cyprus as a surveyor) began drawing a map of the village in 1882, which depicts a mixed population. In 1881, Alektoria had 230 permanent residents. Between the censuses of 1891 and 1946, 25 Greek Cypriots were enumerated. Before the end of the 1950s, they departed the village for unknown reasons. Alektora served as a reception centre for the Turkish Cypriots of Gerovasa and Malia during the period of intercommunal unrest. Some stayed in Alektora and did not return to their villages. Others, however, along with numerous residents, depart. According to one account, there were 57 immigrants residing in the village in 1971. In 1973, the village’s population achieved its peak of 490 people. Upon obtaining orders from Turkey, the inhabitants of the village are expelled during the war of 1974. Two days prior to the Turkish invasion, the village’s Turkish Cypriots relocated to the British base in Episkopi. They remained until January 1975, when they were airlifted to Turkey from Akrotiri. They then returned to the occupied portion of the island, with the majority settling in Pentageia. In 2001, there were 78 permanent residents in Alektoria, while in 2011 there were 64. In 2023, permanent residents will be under the age of fifty. In the not-too-distant past, the village’s inhabitants endured tumultuous times as a result of the actions of infamous outlaws, despite the fact that they now live “in peace” amid an uncertain future. This is the famous Cemal Mehmet Mita (remember the expression “If you catch the Mita” which is said to exaggerate the notion that when someone attempts to accomplish or obtain something, he will ultimately fail. In other words, he will depart empty-handed…) and the Hassamboulias. Mitas was active for some time and remained evasive, causing the British authorities a great deal of difficulty. The authorities were frequently on the verge of arresting him, but he always managed to evade capture. To evade apprehension, he employed the most creative strategies. In fact, he escaped the police cordon in 1942 while disguised as a Hanumissa!… After an exchange of gunfire with the police on March 4, 1946, he sustained a severe shoulder injury. Eleven days were spent hiding in a barn in Alektora. He was eventually compelled to surrender. The Hassamboulias were three Turkish & Cypriot fugitives and bandits (his uncle and two nephews) who operated in the Paphos and Limassol regions at the end of the 19th century and became a legend, occupying the British authorities and the entire island of Cyprus for several years. A coffee establishment in Alektora was frequented by villagers who assisted them in various ways. Whether true or false, it is said that the café was on the road below the current square. The first Greek Cypriots who lived in the village after the invasion recall it, just as they recall the accounts of Pissouri’s residents, but the information about the precise location cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt because there were two additional cafes in the square to the right and left of the main road. At the location “Lakkos tou Fragos” (according to other sources, at the location “Lakkos tou Husein agha”), where the Limassol – Paphos road passed, a post office was opened at the beginning of 1894 and a post office building was constructed for this purpose. In 1915, the post office was closed and relocated to the village. In addition, a hotel known as the “Alektora Inn” was constructed for weary travellers. Rupert Gunnis (English government official and author. He served in Cyprus as inspector of antiquities and in other capacities during the government of Sir Ronald Storrs (1926 – 1926) asserts that a structure built by a stockman and used as the Scottish Hunting Club is located in the same area as the Middle Ages well. In addition, there was a boys’ school on the north side of the village, opposite the mosque, which may be of interest to the reader. According to a map, there were four olive factories in close proximity to one another within the village. Lastly, it is mentioned that the first refugees who settled in the village recall a flour mill. These mills, which attest to the intensive activity of the inhabitants in the past, are no longer visible. In addition to these, there are other locations in Alektra worth visiting and learning about their history. If you navigate the website, you will gain a basic familiarity with the organisation, which may pique your interest in learning more about them.

In 1975, refugees from the occupied village of Lysi began to settle in Alektora and grow grapes. Mr. Pieris Auxentiou, the father of Grigoris Auxentiou, had asked President Archbishop Makarios to locate 100 Lysio families in Alektoras on the grounds that they were familiar with the cultivation of sultanas. The request was granted, and the males of the families were initially relocated to anti-tents in a settlement in Kolossi, from which they travelled daily to the vineyards, which had been subdivided into parcels for each of the three families. The remaining family members remained dispersed throughout the liberated areas. On February 29 and March 1, 1976, the first refugees settled in Alektora in houses that were vacant, lacked electricity, and had crude, insecure doors and windows. These are two Lapithos families. In addition, these two lineages engaged in viticulture. A few months later, Lysian families began to arrive in the village and take up residence in dwellings assigned by lot. They remained for a year living in extremely challenging conditions alongside the others. Thankfully, they had water in their homes. According to the recollections of current residents, electricity was introduced in late 1976 and early 1977. The majority of families left Alektora in search of improved living conditions and opportunities for their children in the second year. There were about ten households left. In September 1976, the first stranded Karpasia residents, expelled by the Turks and accompanied by the Red Cross and United Nations Peacekeeping Force soldiers, arrived in the dark. The majority were from Yalousha. Others thereafter. After being initially hosted by the few locals, they moved into the vacant houses and shared the same fate as the others. Every Wednesday for two or three years, food from the Red Cross was delivered to the village and distributed to the refugees. A new “immigration” surge followed the previous one for the same reasons, and the population decreased once more. As a result of the establishment of a daily bus route to Limassol via a narrow gravel road and a bus of a bygone era, their lives became obviously more bearable. The Cooperative opened a small grocery store for daily necessities. Manavis visited twice weekly. As for the livestock, orders were placed with Pissouri once per week. For the education of small children, a Primary School with a single seat was in operation. In order to participate in all of their schools’ activities, which were not limited to the morning, high school students were required to live with relatives in cities or large villages for at least their first few years of high school. Gradually, health facilities were established, and a rural physician made weekly visits to the village. The operation of a school and the subsequent construction of a church gave the residents a sense of temporary community membership. Nevertheless, the yearning to return to ancestral homes persists.

As remembered by the first refugees who settled in the village after the invasion, the village was densely populated. Unfortunately, the majority of them were demolished in 1978 for the stated reasons. The front entrances of the homes were large and led to private courtyards. When and where necessary, the courtyards were converted into corrals for the tenants’ animals. All of the ancient homes in the village were constructed using stone from the surrounding area. The ceilings were covered with mats, while the rooftops were covered with tiles. Several homes were located on the ground level, whereas others had an exterior staircase leading to the upper floor. The majority of homes had fireplaces to keep their inhabitants toasty during the winter. There were niches in the walls that served as cabinets. The use of the infinitive is due to the fact that these houses no longer exist because they were demolished a few years after the invasion because of the cracks they exhibited after a tremor and also because of their long-term abandonment. However, a modern visitor can discern evidence of their existence in certain walls that adjoin the preserved dwellings. After being crudely restored, the village is filled with houses that adhere to the most modern architecture of the 1960s and 1970s and house the current residents.

The use of the infinitive is due to the fact that these houses no longer exist because they were demolished a few years after the invasion because of the cracks they exhibited after a tremor and also because of their long-term abandonment. However, a modern visitor can discern evidence of their existence in certain walls that adjoin the preserved dwellings. After being crudely restored, the village is filled with houses that adhere to the most modern architecture of the 1960s and 1970s and house the current residents. After the invasion, the villagers specialised for many years in the production of raisins and zivania. All of the fields were covered with black nets in August, on which the grapes were spread to dry before being harvested, cleaned, and stored in enormous warehouses in Kato Paphos. Few winegrowers continue this arduous work today, as both the labour force and the market shrink. The collection and sale of grapevine leaves is currently regarded as more lucrative, despite the fact that climatic conditions pose obstacles. As for the grape, which once filled markets and wineries, it occasionally “gets a war.” Several times, the producers were compelled to conduct a green harvest, which consisted of cutting and discarding unripe grapes. This is extremely distressing for the man who is attached to his land and its crops. May additional practises be implemented in the future. In an effort to survive, some winegrowers attempted to cultivate new varieties of table grapes on their vines. As the climate is conducive to the development of carob and olive trees, a small number of people have begun growing them. Carobs are harvested from the end of August to the beginning of September. The harvesting of carobs in Alektoria during the initial years following the invasion was a team endeavour, with nearly every refugee in the village contributing. Work began early in the morning, was completed late in the afternoon, and was accompanied by jokes, merriment, and songs. People attempted to draw strength from one another and endure the arduous conditions of the refugee. Later, separate sections for each family were created. Similar events had occurred with the vineyards. Originally, each group of three families had to labour together throughout the entire year. Beginning in October, olives are harvested and transported to local olive processors for oil extraction. Two or three housewives in the village prepare sujiukko, which is available on the domestic market due to the advertising efforts of consumers who adore this traditional confection.