As one ascends from Nicosia to Troodos, a little bit before Solea’s large village, Evrychou, looking to the left and into the forest he/she will see from afar the first houses of a very beautiful village, greeting and inviting him/her for a visit.
It is the small and picturesque village of Agios Theodoros of the Solea region that is built in an amphitheater-like manner on the banks of the small river “Astas”, lending its colors to an exquisite and verdant valley with olive and almond trees twined around its feet and pines proudly climbing up its hillsides up to the peaks of “Faraklos”, “Vouni”, “Laona”, and “Katholiki”, their forests being considered as some of the finest of our island.
The village owes its name to the humble “Agios Theodoros o Stratilatis” church (Saint Theodore the Victorious Army Commander), which is built in the midst of our plots that we call “potima” (means “watered”) and which summons us every Sunday and every holyday to remember the joy and sorrows that we all shared in its small and yet full of warmth embrace.
Saint Theodore the “Stratilatis” celebrates with a fair on the 8 th of February, managing to gather close to it the faithful from all the villages in the Solea valley and the emigrants from every corner of Cyprus.
Tradition holds that the Saint’s icon was found in the area where our little church now stands by our ancestors and that they -the first inhabitants –transferred it to the west bank of the river where the old village was standing, wanting to build the church on top of the hill where today stands our school. The Saint however must not have liked the location because every night the icon would “leave”, going back to the spot where it was found. And so our ancestors decided to build there the first little church of Saint Theodore, which later on the younger ones enlarged and gave it its present form.
The school started operating in our village in 1927. In the beginning it was housed in residences such as the house of Tziyrkatzis -the Head of the Community -and the house of Charalampos Kallinos, which today belongs to his descendant, Andreas Ioannou, our little school being constructed three years later at the hill where it still stands today, upon land that was granted by the family of Aristodimos and Chrystallou Kkiratzi.
Unfortunately the school had the same fate as all the schools of small villages and so today it is no longer in operation. The few pupils of our village attend the Regional Elementary School of Evrychou, which also hosts the students from other villages of our region.
History – Archaeology
Archaeological findings at the school’s hill provide evidence that our village was inhabited ever since the pre-Christian times. This explains the small statuette of Eros -now found in the Archaeological Museum of Nicosia -which was accidentally discovered during the digging of a makeshift shelter in 1964 so as to protect the students from the Turkish Air Force.
Besides, this is also confirmed by a mountain of ours that is called “Moutti tou Dhkia” (Peak of Zeus), upon which tradition holds that there was an altar dedicated to Zeus. The existence of Zeus’s mountain is evidence for the existence of worshipers of Zeus and of the other eleven deities of the Ancient Greek.
Furthermore, the place-name “Solea” is reminiscent of the ancient Kingdom of “Soli”, our small village – Agios Theodoros of Solea (Solon)- being part of its outer limits. Due to some other tradition pertinent to the Arab raids, we assume that the village was also inhabited in the Byzantine times. At a steep slope in the “Katholiki” mountains there is a huge rock that even in our days is called «Rotsos tou Morou» (the Infant’s Rock). According to tradition, our fellow-villagers found refuge underneath the rock so as to escape one of the many raids of the Saracen pirates. The Saracens forced a fiddler to show them the way so that they would go to the cave but he was trying to deceive them in all sorts of ways. When they came close to the cave, the fiddler who was at the front of the march heard a baby’s cry and –fearing that if the crying continued it would reveal the location of the cave and many lives would be lost –started playing his violin loudly so as to drown the baby’s cry on the one hand and warn the hiding villagers on the other. Indeed, tradition says that he was singing the following couplet:
«Mother, strangle the baby
so as to save life …»
The poor mother, trying to shut her baby’s mouth so that it would not cry, ended up really strangling it. Of course the villagers escaped from the Saracens but the baby that was lost gave the name to that rock, a reminder of part of the village’s history and of our island in general.
In various locations around our village there are ruins that are evidence for the existence of settlement, usually of pastoral nature, that dissolved in the beginning of the 20 th century when the British Colonial Administration decided to prohibit the pasturing of goats and sheep inside state-owned forests. Such settlements were the «Tzierenides» behind the mountains of Laona, the «Fold of Velleros» in Diplopotama, the «Fold of Araklitis» in the «Chalkokolympoi» venue, and the «Karterouni», about 5 kilometers south of the village, on the road joining our village with the villages of Kourdali – Spilia.
Besides, the “Chalkokolympoi” (plural, means “Copper Ponds”) are evidence that mining and processing of copper took place in this area during antiquity. The reddish color of the terrain and the venue’s name, taken from the reservoirs (ponds) in which the first processing stage of the precious metal was done, verify the thing said above.
Courtesy of the Community Council of Agios Theodoros Soleas