Panagia is a graphical mountain village of Cyprus, located at an altitude of 900 metres in the Paphos mountain range which is at the edge of the Paphos forest and only 35 minutes from the Paphos international airport. Archbishop Makarios the third, the first president of the Republic of Cyprus was born in Panagia.
Panagia owes its name to the many churches and monasteries that are located in the village or near it, and which are dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In the centre of the village there is the church of Panagia Eleousa. A mile east of the village is the chapel of Virgin Mary Sarkas. Half a mile from that is another chapel of Panagia Karion. One and a half kilometres west of the village is the famous and graphic monastery of the Panagia Chrysorogiatissa. Fifteen miles east of the village, located in the thick forest of Paphos is the historical and well known byzantine monastery of Panagia Kikkoou. Therefore the village of Panagia is in between five church which are dedicated to the Virgin Mary and which is also where the village took its name from. In many cases the village is also found as Pano Panagia as it is one of the highest areas in the Paphos district.
According to tradition, the village was exactly under the position of “Pelekaniaka”. The few residents which were actually shepherds, woodcutters cut wood from the nearest forest which were then used in wood carving, construction the tools used for making bread, and other instruments. It was called “Pelekaniaka” because all the village residents produced things from wood which were then sold. However bad luck struck on a terrible night. An earthquake completely ruined the beautiful village of Pelekaniaka.
Today there is a high rock, which is called the “koukos” rock located south of the village and it is said that the rock was connected with the destruction of the village. According to tradition, a large part of the rock fell during the earthquake and covered the village. Also the tale says that a bird cried and warned the residents to leave the area of Pelekaniaka because the cliff was cracked and that it would fall and they would all go to hades.
Today the village is well known for its unique wild nature, such as the Agrino, a species which is protected in Cyprus as well as international laws because it is a species under extinction. It is also well known for its vineyard cultivation zone at Vouni Panagias, which is considered one of the most famous areas for wine in the whole island. The historical monastery of Chrysorogiatissa is at a nearby distance. Finally Panagia has a total population of 580 residents.
Chyrch of Saint George
The first church of the village was that of Saint George and it was built around the 14th century. In 1929 the village had 800 residents and therefore this small chapel was too small to accommodate all the residents. It was decided that the chapel would be demolished and a new one would replace it in the same design. In 1932 the beautiful church was completed and all the residents could admire it as they all helped build it.
On the 9th of September there was a large earthquake and the church had many damaged. Then the Greek government offered £800 in order to fix the temple however the money was not enough so Archbishop Makarios the third paid for it out of his personal money. Saint George is a protector of the Panagia village and assisted them in many ways during difficult times such as when they chased the Turks from the village. He is celebrated on the 23rd of April.
Church of Panagia Eleousa
Around the 14th century, a small chapel was built to the northeast of the village Panagia dedicated to Panagia Eleousa of Kikkos. Today the church is under the protection of the Archaeological Museum of Cyprus. The church has 40 metres length, 16 metres width and has a basilica architecture. The church operates on certain days. These are : 2nd of February , 25th of March , 15th of August , 8th September , 21st of November and the 26th of December. Panagia Eleousa is considered to be miraculous for diseases and deaths. In the earlier years when there was an epidemic is the village, the Virgin Mary would show herself by placing cotton wool around the church to stop the deaths. This custom still exists. Panagia Eleousa is celebrated on the 15th of August.