Panagia tou Araka - Stavros tou Agiasmati Natural Trail

EXCURSIONS / Nature Trails / Troodos / Panagia tou Araka - Stavros tou Agiasmati Natural Trail

A truly remarkable trail with many attractions. Runs through pine forest, vineyards, almond trees and old stone structures. Along the path there are the churches of Panagia tou Araka built in 1192 AD and Agiasmati Cross built in 1494 AD. The two churches have excellent frescoes and are included in the list of World Heritage of UNESCO. East of the path shown Kionia, the north plain of Morfou and Pentadaktylos west Olympus and south the Madari. It is linked to the path Lagoudera or Agros - Madari.
Our impressive Pentadaktylos
The Pentadaktylos is elongated limestone mountain range stretching along the northern coast of Cyprus. It owes its name to the homonymous top, which has the shape of palm with five fingers. According to tradition, which dates back to Byzantine times, Digenis Akritas in his attempt to overcome the mountain left the imprint of the palm of the mountain. Many other myths and legends connected with the castles that dominate the mountain peaks, which were built by the Byzantines to control the sea area north of the island and to identify promptly ships of Saracen pirates.
Pentadaktylos comprises peaks chain, the height of which reaches 1024 m. (Kyparissovuno). The length of the mountain range exceeds one hundred kilometers, while its width rarely exceeds five. In the western part rises abruptly near the northwestern cape Kormakitis and east peak height is reduced to result gradually in the Karpas peninsula, which is an extension of the mountain. To the north the mountain range separated from the sea by a narrow coastal plain, while to the south lies the plain of Mesaoria.
The Pentadaktylos terrain characterized by steep mountains, ravines and gorges. Also as a result of limestone rock found abundance of surface and underground karst formations such as caves, sinkholes and underground tunnels.
The main peaks are from west to east: the Kornos (946m.), The Kyparissovuno (1024m.), The Prophet Elias (888m.), St Hilarion (725m.), The Alonagra (935m.), The Buffavento (954m.), the Pentadaktylos (740m.), the Giailas (935m.), the Old Fountain (819m.), Olympus (740m.) and Kantara (724m.).
The rocks that dominate the ridge Pentadaktylos is sedimentary, alien and go back to the geologic period Triassic (220 million years ago). Formed in shallow seabed in prehistoric continent outskirts located south of Cyprus and then disintegrated and scattered along the Tethys Sea from the Cretaceous to the Miocene (90-10 million years ago). In their current position they pushed before 10 million years, during the Alpine orogeny, when the mountains rose from the seabed.
The characteristic images of the geological formation is hard recrystallised limestones which dominate the landscape of central steep peaks, while on the outskirts there are indigenous flysch rock formations and other younger. A large number of quarries operating on slopes Pentadaktylos. Main product is mining limestone from which lime is produced or, more rarely, mined in compact pieces and used in manufacturing floor panels. Important is the environmental impact from the operation of quarries with the problem exacerbated in recent years due to increased construction activity in the Turkish occupation of Cyprus.
The Pentadactylos range affects the Mediterranean climate of the region, causing an increase of precipitation on the sea side and reduce them on the southern slope and the plain of Mesaoria. Maximum rainfall in the ridge is around 550-600 mm. Snow with snow cover is marked with a frequency of about once every two years.
Flora and fauna
View of Halevga forest background top Pentadaktylos and Kyrenia
The increased rainfall and frequent fogs create favorable conditions for the formation of forests. In Pentadaktylos there are large forest areas with pine (Pinus brutia) and cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), and many other species of trees and shrubs such as glistrokoumaria (Arbutus andrachne) and laurel (Laurus nobilis), which abound in the area of ​​Kantara the juniper (Juniperus phoenicea) in lower areas near the sea and the forest one finds scattered wild olive (Olea europaea var. sylvestis), carob trees in drier places, hawthorn or hawthorn (Crataegus azarolus), oaks (Quercus coccifera), styrakes ( Styrax officinalis) etc. The area also hosts number of endemic herbaceous plants, the Cyprus cyclamen (Cyclamen cyprium) apart.
Fauna Pentadaktylos include foxes (Vulpes vulpes), hares (Lepus europaeus), the hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), small rodents and bat species, while in terms of birds, partridges abound (Alectoris chukar), the woodpigeons (Columba palumbus) and pigeons (Columba livia). One peculiarity of the Karpas peninsula is free donkeys, which after the abandonment of villages have escaped and reproduce themselves in nature. The population currently stands at around 800.

Blinds and Delivery
The strategic position of the range of Pentadaktylos, the ridge dominating the Sea of ​​Cilicia to the north and almost the whole of Cyprus to the south, played a key role in its history. During the 11th century, at a time when Cyprus accepted constant sea raids from Saracen pirates, while the opposite shore of Asia Minor had passed under the control of the Seljuk Turks built on the tops of Pentadaktylos three forts - St. Hilarion of Buffavento and Kantara. Controlling practically the entire sea area from which originated the enemy ships, three castles played an important role in the defense of the island during the 11th to 14th centuries, first under the Byzantines and later by the Franks. Through fire signals were given early warning of enemy ships movements. The fortresses were also used as holiday homes (St Hilarion) or prison (Buffavento). Changes in martial arts led to the decline of the three forts, which finally demolished by the Venetians in the 16th century on the one hand to move the defense in the cities of the island and on the other they are not used by the Ottoman Turkish invaders.
Closely associated with the folklore of Cyprus are the three castles of Pentadaktylos. There lived the legendary Rigaina, which together with Digenis Akritas is the most famous legendary figures from the Cyprus Medieval. According to legend in Voufavendo castle are hidden in a room the treasures of Regina and the room opens for a few moments each New Year. Other myths like the Rigaina to meets Digenis. Many sites are connected with traditions, such as the top of Pentadaktylos with the imprint of the palm Digeni she and Stone Digenis rock which threw Digenis Akritas against a Saracen.
The popular tradition relative to the top of Pentadaktylos
According to tradition Dighenis chased from Asia Minor to Cyprus a Saracen. Chasing him reached the Pentadaktylos which however could not get through because it was soft as dough. Then he caught the top of his left hand and threw it over the mountain. From the signs of the hand and took the mountain its name.
Modern History
The flag of Turkey and the so-called TRNC designed with whitewashed stones on the southern slope of Pentadaktylos the 1980s, so that it is visible from Nicosia and a large part of the central plain of Cyprus
The area of ​​Pentadaktylos was conflict field between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots from the early years of the Cyprus problem. The crossing of tramps along with most of the Nicosia-Kyrenia road came under the control of the Turkish Cypriots during intercommunal riots of 1963-64. This region included mostly Turkish villages like Kioneli the Pileri and Orta Kioi outskirts of Nicosia, which together with the Turkish sector of the capital became one of the most important Turkish Cypriot enclaves years 1964-1974. Important stronghold of Turkish Cypriot forces constituted the fortress of Saint Hilarion, who controlled the town of Kyrenia and much of the coastal plain.
Theatre tough battles was the Pentadaktylos during the Turkish invasion in 1974. Since the first phase of the war (20-23 July 1974) Kyrenia along the road to Nicosia, St Hilarion and villages of the Turkish Cypriot enclave occupied by Turkish army and chrisimoiithikan as bridgehead. After the second phase of the war (14-16 August 1974) the entire mountain range came into the possession of the Turkish army and almost all of the Greek Cypriot population was displaced. Today in Pentadaktylos still stationed a large number of Turkish troops and the area is de facto part of the self-proclaimed TRNC territory.

If you haven't visited this beautiful trail and the surrounding area you absolutely should!
Starting point: (a) Panagia tou Araka, Lagoudera (b) Cross Agiasmati (8 Km from Platanistasa)
Path Length: 7 km
Considerable time: 3 hours
Degree of difficulty: 3
Format: Linear
ADDRESS: Area Kionia, Troodos Mountains


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