Lefkara is a province in the Larnaca district and an independent municipality of Cyprus. It is one of the 6 municipalities of the Larnaca district. Lefkara is built at an altitude of 575 metres above the sea level, southeast of the Troodos Mountain Range. It is situated 35 kilometres from Larnaca, 50 kilometres from Nicosia and 55 kilometres from Limassol. To the northwest Lefkara border with Vavatsinia and Lazania , to the north with Lythrodonta , to the northeast with Delikipo , to the east with Korno , to the southeast with Kofinou , to the south with Kato Lefkara and Skarinou , to the southwest with Kato Dry , Choirokoitia, Vavla , and to the west with Layia.
According to tradition there are three versions for the name of Lefkara:
- The name Lefkara is a complex word and it means White Mountains. This name was given due to the limestone rocks which are found in the area, creating a rough white limestone and firestone location.
- The name Lefkara comes from the clusters of small white poplar trees that grew in the area.
- The name Lefkara was given due to a resident of the area who was called Lefkalos.
In 1570 the Turkish occupation began in Cyprus. Lefkara was hit by many Turkish raids and a large number of residents was killed. That is also when Lefkara was divided into Pano Lefkara and Kato Lefkara , when the community of Kato Lefkara was created by Greek refugees. Before the Turkish period sources mention that the village Lefkara was the part that is referred to as Pano Lefkara today.
Chronographer Leontios Machera mentions Lefkara as being the birth place of Saint Neophytos (1134-1219). The house where Saint Neophytos met with his future wife before leaving to become a monk still exists as a part of a newer house, while the road brings the name of the saint.
During the ruling of the Franks (13th century), Lefkara were the base of the Episcope of Amathounda which was one of the four episcopacy bases in Cyprus. Historical evidence has proven that the leaders of the military Naites were banished to Lefkara during the 14th century.
During the Venetian period (15-18th century), the Lefkara village was a royal feud and was used a tourist resort for the Venetian ladies. It is said that the Venetian ladies were the ones who taught the women of the Lefkara village how to make the Lefkaritika embroidery. According with the legend, the village was visited by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1481, who bought an embroidery for the Cathedral of Milano.
After the British Rule on the island (1878) Lefkara became a municipality (1883). The prosperity on the island during the beginning of the 20th century is due to the trade of the local embroidery, which were sold in all of Europe by Lefkarites embroidery merchants. After World War II and the interruption of sales in Europe, the embroidery trade suffered a blow.
Before the Turkish invasion in 1974, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots lived in Lefkara. The population of Lefkara reached its highest point during the 1930’s and 1940’s. During the 1950’s the population decreased during the migration abroad. The presence of Turkish Cypriots then decreased, even though the Jamia are still found even nowadays. During 1963, the Turkish Cypriots residents of Lefkara moved to Kofinou and only about 30 of them returned to Lefkara. During autumn of 1974 the ones who returned as well as the ones who moved to Kofinou were taken to the north part of Cyprus.
According to the population inventory, the population in Pano Lefkara presents a decrease during the last decades. It is also the smallest municipality in population in Cyprus. The last inventory in 2011 states that the current population of Pano Lefkara is around 762 residents.
During the following years the development of tourism begins to increase in the village based on the local embroidery as well as the unique architecture of the village with its traditional stone built houses, built on the road with their gardens towards the inside. The use of the characteristic local stone is sustained in most new buildings as well. People can visit the Lefkara Local Museum of Traditional Embroidery and Silversmiths in Pano Lefkara where the is furniture, costumes, and embroidery of the 19th century.
The main church in the village is the Timios Stavros . There are also four chapels of Agiou Timotheou, Archangelou Michael , Agia Marina and Agiou Georgiou.