Some Londa Hotel guests say they can see the top of Mount Olympus from their bedroom window. At a height of 1,952 metres (6,403 ft), the mythic dwelling place of the ancient Greek Gods is actually one of the highest peaks in Europe, and lies around 54 kms (34 miles) north west of the hotel.
Visitors to Cyprus seeking authentic cultural experiences often feel drawn to exploring the fabled homeland of Zeus, the thunderbolt-throwing king of Olympian gods, goddesses and muses. The same impulse for mythic adventure is bound to lead them to Koilani, just 24 kms (15 miles) from Mount Olympus. The move is timely, because this ancient wine-making village is to host the 5th Xarkis Festival, an interactive cultural celebration of traditional Cypriot arts, crafts and customs, with a free invitation to participate on the 19th and 20th August.
The quest for finding the ‘spiritual and the emotional’ in their historical and cultural adventures abroad often brings the curious traveller to Limassol. It’s a region embedded in Cypriot mythology at the centre of a rich, archaeological inheritance, which reaches back to the Neolithic period of around 8800–8600 BC. Londa Hotel plays its part too in redefining the new luxury lifestyle. Located at the island’s most southerly Mediterranean edge to the ancient world, its position at the Limassol epicentre is often the starting point for guests to begin their own meaningful journeys.
Locally produced experiences of the Limassol kind
Executive Chef at Londa’s in-house Caprice Restaurant, Vassos Michael, says he’s sure that it is their unique menus, which are the real starting point for guests to seek further locally produced experiences of the Limassol kind. The restaurant’s tantalising array of authentic island ingredients may be first explored with a traditional Insalata ‘Caprice’ of mixed green salad with goat cheese and herbs, or sampling ‘Pescato del giorno’ – the day’s freshly caught fish, grilled to perfection!
Intrepid cultural adventurers may find a wealth of local and regional folk knowledge and island history at the annual Xarkis Festival of music, open air cinema, audio walks, installations, which culminates in a dazzling music concert and fiesta. The Festival aim is for greater integration and continuity between different aspects of folk, everyday life and a harmonious blend with aspects of local, evolving contemporary culture.
The themes of the Festival itself are ideally suited and intriguingly blend with its Koilani village location. Perched at an altitude of 820 metres (2,690 feet) on the west bank of the river Kryos, a tributary of the Kouris River, Koilani has preserved much of the traditional folk dwellings of the wine-producing villages of surrounding Limassol.
Visitors will find unexpected architectural delights as they negotiate their way up narrow, paved, ascending alleys, along yard walls filled with earthenware jars, and where the houses feature original tiled roofs, embossed balconies and arches, and entrance frames built with regional, carved limestone. The village is traditionally known for its aromatic «arkatena» (crunchy rusks with yeast), sweet pastries and unique local wine.
Revival of traditional crafts aims to preserve the future of cultural inheritance
The featured presenters and performers at Xarkis Festival are specially selected for their contribution to social and creative groups and communities. This year, the festival focuses on the idea of “sympraxis” — the revival of traditional crafts and the sparking of interest in younger generations, so the knowledge may be passed down to them in meaningful ways, which aims to preserve the future of cultural inheritance.
As a part of the ongoing endeavour, two parallel community initiatives that will be showcased at the Festival are “Voicing Stories” — oral history testimonies collected from the people of Cyprus preserved in a digital archive — and a website called “Voicing Stories”, an anthology of comic book strips called “Craft Stories”.
No doubt, Zeus himself will be keeping a watchful eye on the Festival from his lofty Mount Olympus domain nearby. Why would that be, you may ask. While he is most well-known for being the ancient god of sky and thunder Zeus actually possessed many titles highlighting the different aspects of his total and absolute authority, one of which was Zeus Xenios, Philoxenon or Hospites, i.e. the patron of hospitality (xenia) and guests.
Londa Hotel likes to believe that the great spirit of Zeus Xenios and hospitality ensures our guests enjoy classic comfort and style redefined for a modern world.