Paralimni is the largest community of the rich valley in the Ammochostos district and is located in the southeast part of Cyprus, a point which someone can enjoy the first sunrise in all of Europe. The roots of the village are from very far away. From the Hellenistic period it was built in the ancient town of Lefkolla. Today there is nothing left from this town. During the Byzantine years Paralimni was the smallest community, or actually it was made up from many smaller agriculture communities. The largest of them must have been built between the old village and the area where the Lyceum is built today, near the church of Agios Dimitrios. This is obvious from the remains of the community which are scattered in the field of the village in the form of many small rocks. In the area, many farmers happened to find various items which witness the existence of the community. The most important findings are the byzantine coins.
The area of the community has a panoramic view towards the sea. This may also be the reason that it was abandoned and destroyed. During the 7th century the Arab raids began. The Arabs were the fear of the Cyprus residents. They would stop at the shores and take over the communities which were near the beach. That is when the Cypriots took some measures in order to protect themselves. The safest measure they took was moving the village to an area which was unseen from the sea. This seems to be the reason why the community in the area of Agios Dimitrios was abandoned. The residents moved from the area, to the central part of Paralimni which is unseen from the sea. In the area, there were also other smaller communities which were also abandoned or they joined the new village which formed Paralimni. The clues which form this idea are the many chapels located around Paralimni. Some of these chapels are in the residential area of the old village.
Name and Municipality
In concern to the name of the municipality, Paralimni took its name from the seasonal lake “Para ti Limni” which is included in the protection habitats of the NATURA2000 and is formed to the west of the community, between Paralimni and Sotira. Due to the location of the village, it took the name “Para ti Limni” which was later altered into Paralimni. In 1986 after a vote, Paralimni was announced a municipality, under the name “MUNICIPALITY OF PARALIMNI” and since then it has been the largest municipality in the free part of the Ammochostos district. It is worth noting that during 1986, the first elections were held for mayor and town council, with the first mayor being Mr.Nikos Vlittis. Today there are about 15.000 residents and t is divided into urban and tourist zones. The tourist zone is made up of Protaras which is a beach suburb with beautiful sandy beaches, clear blue waters and many hotels. Paralimni is a small rich town which is developing at a rapid pace in all areas of the economic and social life.
The church of Agios Nektarios was built in 1992 due to the request of Christoforos Oikonomou, at a private piece of land which he owned. On the 29th of March 1992, the base of the church was built. The iconostasis is carved and has a decoration with the first Christian symbols on it. On the temblor there are six modern icons of byzantine design: of Christ and the Virgin Mary, of Prodormos and Agios Nektarios, of Agios Eleftherios and Agios Christoforos.
It is not known when and why the church of Agios Kornilios was built. Until 1984 there was a chapel of this saint however it was poorly made and was destroyed in 1985. The chapel today took its original location. The only this that was preserved from the old chapel is the altar which was transferred to the new church as well as the unique icon of the Saint.
Towards the south side of the town, a few metres behind the Third Primary School of Paralimni, is the small church of Archangelos Michael. It was built during the 1920’s in the exact same place which the church is built today, was another one that became over the years. In the particular church, there is the icon of Christ on the temblor that is connected to the freedom fight of EOKA during 1955-59. This is because the British soldiers did not respect the holiness of the church and killed a soldier who hid in there in order to save his life. The bullet however did not hit the soldier, but the icon of Christ and so the soldier was saved.
The church of Agia Marina was built in 1972. During the last couple of years, Mr. Dimitrios Papaefstathiou took initiative to fill the church with iconographies from one side to the other. The area where the church is built in was formerly an all-girls school. In one corner of the yard there was always a candle in dedication to Agia Marina. In 1941 after an earthquake the school was destroyed and stopped operating. Then the villages decided to build a church in dedication to Agia Marina.
Metropolitan Temple of Agios Georgios
The metropolitan temple of Ammochostos is dedicated to Agios Georgios who is the protector of the town of Paralimni. He is celebrated on the 23rd of April and on the 3rd of November. The temple is built exactly next to the old church of Agios Georgios. In the village there was a field that everyone knew which was called the field of Agios Georgios. This big field was slowly destroyed due to the creation of roads and shops. There is a small part of the field with orange trees which was left untouched and was made into a park area. The square of churches includes the church of Agia Anna, Agios Georgios (old one) and the Metropolitan temple of Agios Georgios.
It was built during the period of 1963-1966 with plans of the architect Michael.A Kokkinou and operated on the 21st of September, 1969 by the Archbishop Makarios the Third. The temple is one of the largest in the area. The floor is made up of three different levels in order to allow everyone to watch. It has a capacity of 2000 people. There are three entrances in order to accommodate all the people who enter. It was decorated with iconographies in 1995. Today all the sides of the temple have iconographies. The iconostasis is wooden with various symbols and decorations.
The holly temple of Agios Georgios replaced an older one during the 19th century. It is located in the centre of Paralimni between the temple of the Virgin Mary also known as Agia Anna (13th century), and the Metropolitan temple of Agios Georgios which was built during 1963-1966. There is a marble inscription which states that the temple was built in 1859 to replace an older byzantine one, from which some parts were saved and added to the new one.
The inscription was found during the demolition of various classrooms of the old school next to the church and it was carved on a plaque which was on the exterior of the south wall. Earlier on there was a low wall which surrounded the church area. Next to it was a large field which is still there today. The iconostasis is carved wood which was used during the 19th century and is covered with gold leaves. There are five levels from the ground floor until the top with a total height of 7.60 metres and a width of 9 metres. All of the icons are from the 19th century. The bell tower is of the 19th century and was built later by the same church. It is located in the same position of the arch on the south wall.
The church of the Virgin Mary is located in the centre of Paralimni. The original church was smaller in dimension and it belongs to the 13th century. To the residents it is known with the name Agia Anna which was given to it when it was enlarged to the size it is today. The original church was built with stones of the area, and was filled with hagiographies in its interior. These hagiographies have been destroyed. The two or three hagiographies which can be seen today are those of Archangel Michael on the north wall, of Christ and the Ierarhwn on the east. Instead of icons the church is decorated with coloured plates placed in shapes. The arch is semi-circular and there are four windows which give light to the interior of the church. The wooden carved iconostasis is a good creation of the 17th century. The two icons of Christ and the Virgin Mary also belong to the 17th century. The twelve Apostles which also decorate the iconostasis are of an earlier time. When the residents could no longer all fit in it then the necessity for extension occurred. A south part was added towards the west side.
The temple of Agios Dimitrios of Paralimni began being built in 1993 and was completed in 1996. The church is dedicated to three saints: Agio Dimitrio , Agio Dimitriano and Agio Fanourio.
A few metres from the heart of Protaras is the stone built chapel of Prophet Elias. It is a chapel which can be admired from all sides. It is especially nice at night when it is hit by the lights. In order to see the chapel you must climb 153 steps. The view from the chapel is magnificent.
At the foot of the rock there is the colourful, cosmopolitan Protaras. To the east is the deep blue sea. To the north the view is fascinating. Someone can see Ammochostos, Petadaktylos, Karapasia , the occupied Cypriot land.
The graphic chapel of Agioi Saranda is located in the area of Agioi Saranda. You can get there by following the off road or one of the nature paths. The rocky shell on the wold rocks guides the follows to the chapel which is located in this wild deserted cave. It seems that a Christian noticed the forty stalactites on the roof of the cave and compared them to the Forty Witnesses (Saranda Martires). The nature lovers will also enjoy the view apart from the pilgrimage.
The small, humble chapel of Agia Triada is located in a graphic bay three kilometres from Paralimni near the fishing shelter. The fishermen tie their fishing boats at the small port and the passers-by always light a candle in front of the icons.
Those who deal with fishing occupations in Paralimni , wanted to dedicate a small church in the name of their protector. There was the perfect location, next to the sea near the small port where the fishermen tie their boats. A small, white and blue chapel of Agios Nikolaos reminds the Aegean island chapels.
The chapel of Agios Pandeleimonas was built in the ruins of two older churches which were also dedicated to the same saint. The chapel today is stone built with a wooden roof. With the charities of the villagers, the interior of the church has been decorated with hagiographies. Amongst them is the “Rodon to Amaranto” where the Virgin Mary is surrounded by various Saints.
Resting in a green area filled with pine trees, carbo trees, and eucalyptus trees is the chapel of Panagiotissa, a true unique beauty. In the area of Panagiotissa, due to the fact that the necessities existed a community was able to be formed. However due to the Arab raids and during the Turkish occupation all the residents abandoned the land and Panagiotissa was deserted. On the ruins of destruction though, todays’ chapel of the Virgin Mary was built during the beginning of the 20th century.
This small church is located at the foot of Fanou which is the tallest hill in the Paralimni area. Even though it was built in 1965, in 1998 a dynamic operation took place which gave the chapel a new shape , as walls moved , the capacity grew larger , and a bell was added on the east side. The interior of the church has been completely been decorated with hagiographies.
In 1930, Dimitrios Kalogiros wanted to make the village even more magnificent so he decided to build a church which in the end was dedicated to Agio Mama. The most precious thing in the small church is the icon of Agios Mamas who is presented on a lion, holding a lamb while Christ blesses him from the side. Due to the fact that the central church of Paralimni is dedicated to Agio Georgio, two churches cannot be celebrated on the same day. Therefore Agios Mamas remains the protector of the farmers and the livestock owners.
In the most beautiful area of Paralimni, on a hill which faces the sea is the chapel of Agios Dimitrianos. It was built during the 20th century of a Byzantine architecture as the findings show.
The chapel of Apostle Thoma is dated during the first decade of the previous century during the years 1905-199. It is surrounded by graves as it is built in a graveyard. It is of an old ancient Greek tradition to build temples on the graves of saints.
Agioi Anargiroi Kosmas and Damianos
The graphic chapel of Kosmas and Damnianos is located near the Cavo Greko Cape, then kilometres from Paralimni, on the Konnos bay. It is a modern construction of the 1950’s. Tradition begins from a cave which reaches the sea. In order to get to the bottom you must climb down 50 steps. Deep in the souls of the villagers is the faith that the saints once lived there. Due to the restricted capacity of the cave it was required that a church above the rocks be built. Therefore in 1950 the chapel which is there today was built.
Apart from the above churches and chapels, there is also the church of Trion Ierarhon, the church of Apostle Markos in memory of the tragic victims of the aeroplane crash on the 14th of August 2005.