The village Steni is found in the northwestern part of Cyprus, five kilometers from the sea of the Gulf of Chrysohous. It is built at an altitude of 200 meters above the sea and its climate is ideal during all the seasons of the year. The fact that at a radius of ten kilometers from the coast of the Gulf of Chrysohous there are produced cherries, “avocado”, “mango”, watermelons, apples, bananas, oranges and almost anything you can imagine, it shows really what climate exists in this region, that is not met in other regions, not only in Cyprus, but also worldwide.
At the east side of the village, going up to the mountain at a distance of two kilometers, the visitor can see the forest of Paphos and in the northwestern side the entire gulf of Chrysochous with the neighboring villages. This is really a very beautiful picture that is not easily found elsewhere.
We can not say for sure how the village Steni took its name, but there exists two versions by the older residents of the village. The first version says that the locality that the first settlement initially existed , it was a narrow part (steno) in the banks of the river that cross the community and possibly that’s why it was given this name. The second version says that the first resident of the village built his stockyard at a place called “stenia” from “stani” and thus afterwards “stenia” became Steni.
There is no exact information about when the village began to exist, but from a part of the old watermill next to the river that crosses the community, experts have pronounced that this is building of the 16th century and thus the village is of the same roughly chronology. Some other information brings the village to exist during the construction of the monastery of Virgin Mary of Chrysolakournas during the 12th century.
As all the villages of the region, the residents of Steni were dealing from the old years, with the agriculture and the livestock-farming. Because the village of Steni is found between mountains and plains, these two professions of its residents had been very gainful and also the water from the river that crosses the community had been for the old years the best gift to the residents.
The population of Steni had an augmentative tendency up to 1930, about 300 residents, but two big currents of immigration in South Africa from 1930-1950 and 1960-1975, brought the village to a stage between deterioration and indestructibility. A smaller current began towards South Africa, at the beginning of the 20th century thus this country was the choice of all the immigrants of Steni.
The municipal school of Steni functioned in 1925 with 35 students from whom 27 were boys and 8 girls, having for first schoolteacher the unforgettable Loucas Argyrides from the village Katydata of Solea. It stopped functioning in 1983, because of the decreased number of children. The children of the community study today in the regional schools of Polis Chrysochous.
With the manufacture of the dam “Evretos” the life of residents, especially that of the farmers changed because they had now other choices than the traditional agriculture, that is, cultivating only cereals. The main products today are the citrus fruits, olives and cereals. Apart from those that deal with the agriculture, others work in the tourist industry of the region and others with technical professions. At the beginnings of 1980 the population of the community began once again to be increased, mainly because of the young persons in the village and the repatriation of the immigrants from South Africa due to the good economic situation that prevails in this region. Today the village of Steni has about 120 residents, but as it has been reported, with the augmentative tendency that exists, as well as with the installation of foreign people in the village, is forecasted that the population will be doubled over the next five years.
Church of Agios Tryfonas
The church of Steni is dedicated to Agios Tryfonas that according to tradition is the protector of the animals and crops and came from the Lampsako of Minor Asia. The temple has been built in 1913 at the place where the first church of village was found, a small building which was destroyed by fire because of some forgotten candles.
During the construction of the existing temple, all the residents offered voluntary work, some of them carrying stones with their animals from the region of the Monastery of Chrysolakournas and others by proving help to the craftsmen that built the church.
The belfry which is one of the more beautiful of the region is entirely built from hewer hard stone of the region, it was built in 1940 by the famous craftsman of that season, Constantinos Zoppos and his son Demos from the village of Geroskipou.
Before the construction of the belfry, as a “belfry” it was used a “tremithas”, a tree outside the entry of the temple where a bell was tied up. Near this tree it existed a big stone which the Metropolitan was using in order to ride his “Moula” (female horse), after the Divine operation at the church was finished.
The money for the construction of the belfry had been gathered by contributions of immigrant people form Steni in South Africa that had been sent to the village for this reason.
The temple has been reconditioned in 1961 and in 1988 and every year on 1st of February, day of feast of Agios Tryfonas, local people and residents of other villages honor with their presence the memory of Agios Tryfonas. Today the priest of the temple is Mr Josif Christodoulou Vodommatis.
The Monastery of Virgin Mary Chrysolakournas
The Monastery of Virgin Mary Chrysolakournas is found roughly 3 kilometers at the north side of the village Steni in a fantastic locality, having a view of the gulf of Polis Chrysohous and Cape Akama.
We do not know when the monastery was founded or when it was destroyed. From some information that we have from the historical Archimandrite Kyprianos, we conclude that the monastery was abandoned in the beginning of the 19th century. Today, the monasterial buildings, that were saved devastated for fifty years, are completely disappeared. Only a small part of the church was saved and this up to 1974.
In 1974-1975 the Department of Antiquities restored the church. The saved, up to 1974, departments of the church emanated from various periods and are the result of many interventions during the long life of the monastery. A mural of Saint Ioannis the Precursor that is rescued in the western wall of the temple and that can be dated in the 12th century, reduces the foundation of the monastery in the medium Byzantine period.
From the saved elements it appears that the initial church was reconditioned radically during the 14th century after some destruction. The 16th century the Church was either destroyed or suffered extensive damages and it was then built again and took its current form.
Apart from the mural of the Precursor in the western wall that is dated in the 12th century, there were discovered also some written crosses of 12th century in the western wall.
In the quadrant of the arch, there are saved pieces from the “Platytera” between the Archangels. At a lower level there are saved big departments from the communion of the Apostles (Communion) and departments showing ceremonies by priests, where the better saved is that of Agios Gregorios the Theologian. In the western arc of the northern wall a big part of the mural of Agios Georgios is saved. Most of the saved murals are dated in first half of the 16th century.
Courtesy of the Community Council of Steni