My occupied village MYRTOU
Myrtou village is located Southwest of Kyrenia at a height of 270 metres above sea level. It is on the south side of Pedadaktylos Mountains and because of its position it was considered to be the administrative centre of the area before 1974.
From the village there was easy access to two towns Nicosia (the capital of the island) through Asomatos and Kyrenia through Panagra. It was also connected with Morphou through Dhiorios. Administratively the village is in Kyrenia district.
Because of its advantageous geographical position the village had a progressive growth.
Though in 1881 the village had only 280 people in the 1973 official census the people residing there came to 828 with increasing prospects. The 1974 barbareous Turkish invasion in Cyprus put an end to this growth.
There are several traditions as to how the village got its name .One of them says that the name comes from the plant MYRTOS or MYRTIA myrtle. On the western side of the village there is a whole area full of myrtle as well as other plants and bushes.
This particular area is known as Mersinia. According to the writing of ancient writers myrtle was a plant dedicated to Goddess Aphrodite and God Apollo. There is a probability that in this area was a sanctuary dedicated to Apollo and even a small villa ge with the name Myrtos.
Myrtou area was inhabited prehistorically. Archaeological excavations in two areas of the village Stephanie and Pegades brought to light valuable findings. Oxford Ashmalian museum and a mission from Sydney Australia University carried out the excavatio ns
The finding proved the religious political and trading connection of Cyprus with other islands of Greece and especially Crete.
The Monastery of the Saint Panteleimon
Myrtou village owns its development to its monastery of the ST Panteleimon. The monastery played an important socio economic role in the development of the village and the area in general especially during the years of Turkish occupation.
The story of the monasterys foundation has not been proven since there is no writers proof. Therefore we turn to tradition and sayings of elder people. According to tradition two monks from Lapithos Dorotheos and Dositheos, left their monastery of ST P anteleimon at Agio Oros coming back to their island Cyprus to start a new monastery. With them they brought pieces of the holy bones of ST Panteleimon. The two monks tried to find a quiet place in the Lapithos and Karavas area but with no result. They mov ed on to an area today called AERAS, which was full of wild vegetation. Tired and thirsty as they were they sat down and prayed to their Saint to help them. As they were praying they saw water coming from the marble stones next to them. They drank water a nd thanked ST Panteleimon for his help. In the same place today you can find the Agiasma holy water of ST Panteleimon.
The two monks decided to start their monastery in this area. At first they builted a small church and two rooms for themselves. An icon of Saint Panteleimon was placed in the church together with his holy bones for believes to visit. The monastery is s aid to have been founded around 1600 A.D.
Gradually the monastery grew bigger and bigger acguirin gproperty. It became one of the richest monasteries of the island, offering jobs to the people of the villages around the area. The monastery had lots of fields for cultivation, floks of sheep, go ats and cows. Later on the people that came to work the monasterys land brought their families together as well as believers that have been healed by the Saint and a new village was created around the monastery. This was the beginning of the our village M yrtou.
Saint Panteleimon is celebrated on the 27th of July each year. Many people from all over Cyprus were visiting the monastery to pay their respects to Saint Panteleimon. Before 1922, when Asia Minor was Greek , many worshiper were coming to Cy prus and to St Panteleimon monastery.
Short History of the Village until the 1974 Turkish Invasion
The village for many years had a limited number of people because the administrator of the monasterys property was the Metropolis of the Kyrenia. When the Metropolis decided to start dividing the land to smaller plots, the village begun to grow bigger and bigger. People could buy a plot of land build their house and stay in their village rather than to move to the towns.
The Majority of the people living at Myrtou were farmers cultivating their fields or raising sheep goats and cattle. Other were working at Nicosia or Xeros. Of course you could find carpenters, mechanics, butchers, storekeepers and so on.
During the liberation fights against the English in 1955-1959 many young people fought under E.O.K.A (an organisation that fought for the liberation of Cyprus). Later on during the Turkish invasion of 1974 again the young men of Myrtou responded to the cal of their country and fought against the Turkish army
Three young men are missing. These are Christakis Nicolaou , Neophytos Charalambous and Lazaros Thrasyvoulou. Two others, Charalambos Meraklis and Panayiotis Georgiou Koratzitis were captured prisoners by the Turks, transferred to prisons in Turkey, wh ere they suffered the most. Fortunately these two were among the lucky ones that returned home safe and alive.
When the Turkish troops entered the village they found 70 people mostly elders. These people decided to stay home rather then became refugees, but the Turks tried to make their life difficult in every way. They broke into their house stealing money and other valuables. Two villagers Costis Kotsapas and Christospher Tsaggaris were murdered and no body knows where they were buried.
The Turk s were using the village as a military base and on the southern part Turkish officers and their families were settled. Because of that they were threatening the Greeks that were enclaved in their own village, until they manage to send them all away to became refugees in their own country. Later on they brought Turkish Cypriots from Adrolikou, Paphos to live in Myrtou.
The monastery of Saint Panteleimon remains since then empty with no monks or priest. The Turks not only broke into the monastery, destroying and stealing valuables but they out they also tried to change the Christian Character of the village. In the ce ntre of the village they changed a building to a mosque by erecting next to it a huge minaret.
The people of Myrtou became refugees in their own country and scattered all over Cyprus. The majority are today living in the Nicosia area. They never forgot their place and together with the other refugees are fighting and hoping for their return home . In 1984 Syndesmos Myrtioton was founded. The main purpose of their association is to keep the people of Myrtou in touch with each other. To create friendly relationships between themselves and offer help to those that need it till the day we return to o ur fatherland, beautiful MYRTOU and SAINT PANTELEIMON monastery.
Do not forget occupied MYRTOU
Do not forget occupied CYPRUS