Geroskipou in Paphos
Geroskipou is a coastal town in Paphos,
Cyprus, a few minutes car ride east of Paphos. Its current population is approximately 7,000
and it is the second largest municipality in the Paphos District.
Yeroskipou, with its remarkable five-domed Byzantine church of Agia
Paraskevi, and its Folk Art Museum, is a popular tourist destination.
It is known especially for the production of Turkish Delight or "lokum"
(locally loukoumia or lukum). The town is the only place
in the world which has protected geographical indication (PGI) for the
Agia Paraskevi Church:
The 5 domed church built in the form of a basilica with five
cupolas placed in the shape of a cross, is one of the most important churches
Folk Art Museum:
Situated in Geroskipou, the 19 century traditional house of both architectural and historical
importance, called The House of Hadjismith. It is stone built with rooms
accessible through two paved courtyards and a covered terrace. On the
upper floor there is a long room ('makrynari') and a verandah reached by
an outside staircase. The two-storey museum building forms the nucleus
of a larger complex which once comprised the mansion of Andreas
Zimboulakis' family. This house was connected with the name of the British commodore and
later admiral Sir Sidney Smith (1764-1840), famous for his success
against Bonaparte at the siege of Acre in May 1799. Soon afterwards,
Smith landed at Paphos and stayed at the house of Andreas Zimboulakis,
an immigrant from the Ionian islands who had settled in Geroskipou, also
spelt Yeroskipou. Their house was considered a mansion in those times
and from 1800 to 1864 it served as the residence of the British
Consular agents at Paphos.
Smith appointed him British Consular agent at Paphos principally
responsible for the provisioning of the British men-of-war that were
patrolling the eastern Mediterranean. Since Sir Sidney Smith visited the
house frequently, it came to be known as 'Smith's house' and, in honour
of the British admiral, Zimboulakis' son, who succeeded his father as
Consular agent in 1826, was named Smith Zimboulakis.
Because of its architectural and historical importance, the 'House of
Hadjismith' is one of the first buildings of Folk Architecture to have
been declared 'Ancient Monument' by law. The Department of Antiquities
acquired half of the house in 1947/48 and the other half in 1974. After
systematic restoration the building was converted into a Folk Art
Museum, which has been open to the public since 1978. A new room with
a covered verandah in front was constructed to form the main entrance to
the Museum. The spacious courtyard on this side has been laid out as a
garden, which includes a water-raising wheel ('alakati') and an olive
press. The collection of the Museum has been considerably enriched with
embroideries, costumes, agricultural implements, a hand-turned cotton
de-seeder, a weaving loom, silk, manufacture, rope-making and mule
trappings. A smaller room opening onto the back yard houses the
apparatus for processing hemp and flax and for the manufacture of
rope. The machinery for the reeling of the silk, called anapinistiri has been installed in
an outhouse in the yard of the Museum. In the spring months visitors
have the opportunity to watch the silkworms feeding on mulberry leaves
in a shadowy place and at a later stage the newly spun cocoons on
branches of thyme.
History of Geroskipou
According to local tradition, and as is implied in the
etymology of the town's name, Yeroskipou was the site, in
Greek mythology, of goddess
Aphrodite's sacred gardens. Hence its name "yeros" (holy) and "kipou"
( garden) meaning
pilgrims from Nea Paphos passed through Yeroskipou before reaching
the temple of Aphrodite at Kouklia.
The Classical writer Strabo
mentions Yeroskipou, calling the settlement Hieroskepis. Many
other travellers have written that in the coastal plain of Yeroskipou
there were centuries old olives and carob trees.
In the 11th century, the five-domed Byzantine church of Agia
Paraskevi was built in the middle of present-day settlement. It is
also mentioned that at Moulia, a coastal locality of the town, the
miraculous icon of Panagia of Khrysorogiatissa was found by the monk
Ignatios, who carried it to Rogia mountain from where the monastery
took its name.
In 1811 Sir Sidney visited Yeroskipou and met
Andreas Zimboulakis, appointing him as a vice-consul of
Britain. Zimboulaki, who was born in
Kefalonia, settled in Yeroskipou and his duties as vice-consul
were to protect the interests of Britain. The house of Zimboulaki
where many personalities were hosted, was bought in 1947 by the
Department of Antiquities, to be converted into Folk Art Museum.
In 1821, the village had 30 adult male Turkish Cypriots and 76
adult male Greek Cypriots. By 1911, the village had a population of
602, with 477 Greek and 125 Turkish Cypriots. In the next decades, the
Greek Cypriot population grew rapidly while the Turkish Cypriot
population declined: in 1931, there were 751 Greek Cypriots and 105
Turkish Cypriots. In 1960, the village had a population of 1722, with
1552 Greek and 170 Turkish Cypriots.
A British firm set up a factory for silk production in 1925.
Hundreds of workers both from Yeroskipou and the surrounding villages
were employed in it. However, the factory closed in 1952. It is also
mentioned that at Yeroskipou there was also a linen-processing