Once described as “the village of wooden balconies”, Galata is a small village lying in Solea valley, in Nicosia district.
According to one narrative, the name of the village derives from the first settlers that inhabited the area. That early population is said to be originated from Galatia, an ancient area in the mountains of Anatolia region, also called Asia Minor, nowadays constituting the Asian part of Turkey . The second interpretation states that the village was populated by shepherds, with their herbs. These shepherds were selling milk to the population of the neighbouring areas. Therefore, the village was known for its milkmen which in Greek is translated to “Galates” (“Γαλάτες”). One last version indicates that the village is related to the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea. According to the 10th book of Metamorphoses, written by the Roman poet Ovid, Pygmalion was a Cypriot sculptor, who fell in love with his own creation. The sculpture was representing his ideal woman, who he named Galatea meaning “she who is white as milk” (“milk” being “gala” - γάλα - in Greek). The myth says that Pygmalion, prayed to goddess Aphrodite to give him a woman similar to his statue, and according to the myth, she gave life to Galatea who has later married Pygmalion. In this respect, it is said that the village Galata could have been dedicated to the sculptor Pygmalion and his wife Galatea.
Galata is built in the banks of Klarios river (also known as Karkotis river), that crosses Solea valley and pours into the Morphou bay. Due to its location, the village is surrounded by a scenic nature. Passing by the village square, and walking through the narrow neighborhoods, one can enjoy the distinguished traditional architecture that characterizes Galata. The houses were built with local stone and had two floors. On the second floor, there was an extension with a wooden balcony looking at the main road. The houses were also comprised by tiled, inclined rooftops, in order to be protected by the snowfall and the heavy rain during the winter season.
Apart from the beautiful architecture, the area has a long tradition to pastry and bread-making. In this respect, the watermills were an indispensable part in the olden days. Galata village had 4 watermills, from which two still exist until nowadays. First, Kyrillos’ watermill has been restored and it is still operational, and along with the scenic area and the small bridge, makes it an attraction to the visitors. The second mill, named the watermill of Rodous, which is not operational, is a beautiful construction, restored in 2002, and it is located within the valley, by Klarios river.
The village’s six Byzantine churches prove the strong association of Galata with religion. The main church of the village, Panagia Odigitria (“The Guiding Virgin Mary”), was built in 1930 and it was constructed after donations and voluntary work by the community’s population. The second church dedicated to Virgin Mary, Panagia tis Podithou (“Virgin Mary of Podithou”) was built in 1502, and it is a construction with crude, unrefined stone and wooden roof . The church is situated at the center of a narrow valley, close to Klarios’ riverside and was part of a small monastery that today does not exists. Panagia tis Podithou was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with other nine churches of Troodos area, because of the unique murals that decorate them. Aside from the wall paintings, the church’s, 16th century, iconostasis is considered as one of the most distinguished wood-crafted, gilded compositions of its era. Close to Panagia tis Podithou church is situated Archangel Michael’s chapel that was built in 1514. Another small church of the same period is Agios Sozomenos, that is located at the center of the village and it is defined by its roof that is covered with tiled plates, similar to other old churches of the Troodos region. Agios Georgios (Saint George) and Agia Paraskevi (Saint Paraskevi) churches are found in the road between Galata and the neighbouring Kakopetria village, while Agios Nicolaos church (Saint Nicholas church) is located at the village’s entrance.
To complete the journey to Galata and enjoy the beauty of the nature surrounding it, the visitors can follow the walking trail along Klarios river. The nature trail covers an area of 1km and begins at the chapel of Archangel Michael. It passes by the small church of Panagia tis Podithou and follows the riverside road. The small path continues within the rich vegetation and plantation found in parallel of the river, that includes oaks, platanus, myrtle trees and ivies. The trail leads towards the windmill of Rodous, in the western side of the river.
The village has undoubtedly a unique charm, with distinguished architecture defined by its wooden balconies, a long history from the Byzantine era and an exceptional natural landscape.