Kato (Lower) Lefkara is a village of the Larnaca district
and it is located about 34 kilometres south-west of
the city of Larnaca.
The community is built on an average
altitude of 480 metres. The terrain is hilly and the
altitude in the north-east of the settlement reaches
up to 417 metres ("Shinokefalos" hilltop).
The landscape is fragmented by the rivers Syrkatis and
Argaki, and of St. Minas, all tributaries of the Pentaschoinos
Kato Lefkara receives an annual rainfall
of about 570 millimetres. In the village's limited cultivable
land, vines (of wine-making varieties), olive, almond,
and carob trees, a few citrus-trees, forage plants,
broad beans, a few fruit-trees (fig, pomegranate, and
plum trees), and very few vegetables are cultivated.
However, the village's greatest part is uncultivated
and wild, natural vegetation grows in it, mainly pine-trees,
thorny burnets and brooms, sages (cistus), thyme, and
wild carob and olive trees.
As far as transportation is concerned,
Kato Lefkara is connected to the neighbouring village
of Pano (Upper) Lefkara in the north-west (about 1 km),
with the village Kato Drys in the south-west (about
4 km.), and with the Skarinou Station in the south-east
via the Nicosia - Limassol Highway (about 8 km).
The village has gone through several
fluctuations of its population. In 1881 the inhabitants
were 313, increasing to 334 in 1891 and to 349 in 1901,
decreasing to 323 in 1911, increasing to 364 in 1921,
again decreasing to 357 in 1931 but increasing to 405
in 1946. In 1960 the inhabitants numbered 304, decreasing
to 225 in 1973, increasing to 256 in 1976, however decreasing
to 210 in 1982. In the last census of 2001 the village's
inhabitants were 118.
The art of needlework (embroidery)
developed in Kato Lefkara, as also in the neighbouring
village of Pano Lefkara, reaching to very high levels.
A large variety of "lefkaritika" embroideries
is manufactured, which are characterised by the affluence
and the diversity of their designs.
The separation into Upper (Pano) and
Lower (Kato) Lefkara was observed since the times of
the Turkish domination, thus the latter village must
have been established by banished Greeks. In earlier
sources Lefkara is mentioned as a single settlement,
obviously being Pano Lefkara.
The village was a strong and rich
feud during the years of Frank domination and de Mas
Latri includes it in the list of royal estates. Besides,
in older maps the village is marked as Lefcara and /
However, Lefkara is one of Cyprus's
villages that we know for sure it existed before the
Frank domination era -during the Byzantine times -for
which there are no sources that are adequately detailed.
The village was claiming the honour of being considered
as the birthplace of the significant Cypriot Saint Neofytos,
who is however reported as being born in the neighbouring
village of Kato Drys. It seems that local tradition
attempted to compromise this dispute, regarding the
Saint's decent, by relating that his parents came from
"Apliki" -a settlement that existed between
Lefkara and Kato Drys -moving however to Kato Drys (where
the Saint was born in the 12th century) and later also
residing in Lefkara.
The mediaeval annalist Leontios Machairas
accepts the descent of Saint Neofytos from Lefkara.
In any event, in one of his own writings, Saint Neofytos
himself mentions Lefkara as the place of his origin.
There are three different interpretations regarding
the name "Lefkara": the first supports that
it comes from the words "Lefka Ori" (White
Mountains), because the region has the white coloured,
rough, limestone and fire-stone landscape as its main
characteristic. The same natural, white colour of the
region's rocks also characterises the appearance of
all the stone-made houses, the paved alleys, and the
dry-stone, protective structures in the fields, which
were made with the local stone of the "White Mountains".
The second interpretation supports that the villages
received this name due to the tufts of small, white
poplars that grew in their region. Finally, there is
the opinion that perhaps the name came from some settler
who was named Lefkalos.
Pano and Kato Lefkara, two entirely
separate and independent villages, though with a common
and interrelated existence, occupy a privileged position
on the west, mountainous region of the Larnaca district.
Built -side by side -on the edges and the foot of the
Sotira mountain, the two villages are adjacent to the
Neolithic settlement of Choirokitia and the monastery
of Saint Minas.
The first written testimony for the
existence of Lefkara under today's name is given by
Saint Neofytos in his book "Typiki Diathiki",
in which he mentions that he was born in Lefkara in
1134. The Saint's descent from Lefkara is confirmed
by his relevant chant, which characterises him as the
Glory of Lefkara. This watertight, chronological testimony
reveals the existence of Lefkara -as a community -in
1134, which is placed in the end of the Byzantine era
(395-1191). Undoubtedly, Lefkara continued their historic
tradition and their cultural progress -as the same communal
entity -throughout the duration of the Byzantine era.
The second historical testimony
goes back to the times of the Frank domination (1191-1570)
and reports that all the leading members of the military
Order of the Templars were exiled in Lefkara in 1308
and for three years; their inadmissible behaviour obstructed
the smooth operation of the Frank regime in Cyprus.
In any event, it is reported that -during the 15th century
-Sor de Naves, Constable of Cyprus, served as Lord of