The village of Fikardou is a small, rural settlement built on the southeastern slopes of the Troodos Mountain range, about 32km southwest of Nicosia. The village existed at least since the byzantine era and was founded by fleeing residents from pillaged coastal cities. The mountains and the fields offered safety and ground for a new beginning. The arable lands of the village are cultivated with vines, almonds, olives, cereals, and pulses. The village’s inhabitants have always been engaged in animal husbandry and land cultivation.
One version attributes the village’s name to the family name of aristocrat Tomazo Phicardo, a notary to King James II during Frankish rule in Cyprus. Phicardo was a feudal lord of nearby villages and might have owned the village for a time as a fief, thus passing on his name to the village, as was the case for many village fiefs of the times. Another version says that since the location was known as the lair of fugitives, Â«Ï†Ï…Î³Î¬ Î¬Î½Î´ÏÎ¿Î½ (fyga andron) â€“ fugitive’s den,Â» the community ended up being known as Fikardou.
The village layout’s inner branching consisted of narrow, cobbled streets suitable only for pedestrians and animals. The location of the village allows for the sun to shine on the fields for long periods of the day, which has benefited the village’s agricultural development. The village’s landscape is rough and mountainous, with steep slopes and deep valleys where small streams flow. The climate is Mediterranean, with long hot summers and short, mild winters.
The trend of urbanization and abandonment of the countryside affected the village, which began to show signs of decline. The dramatic decrease in the population of permanent residents left many houses deserted and derelict and brought economic depression to the village. To protect the monuments, the architectural character, and the environment of Fikardou, in 1978, the Department of Antiquities declared the entire village as an “Ancient Monument.” In 1984, the Department of Antiquities undertook, as part of a wider program to revitalize the village, to repair and restore the collapsing houses, and generally to improve the whole image and structure of the village. The Department of Antiquities fully restored, among others, two residences, the “Residence of Katsinioros” and the “Residence of Achilleas Dimitri,” which are outstanding examples of the traditional architecture of the 18th century. Together, these two Residences host the Fikardou Agricultural Museum. In 1987, these two Houses were awarded the Europa Nostra International Award.
The village also features a beautiful 17th century church devoted to Apostles Peter and Paul, built to local standards, with a wooden roof that bears intricate, well-designed relief patterns. In the center of the village layout, the old Wine Press was available to the villagers for wine production, one of the most prominent occupations and primary sources of income of traditional village life. The Old School, located on top of the hill opposite the church, ceased to operate after the desertion of the village and has since been turned into a workshop and exhibition room.
Fikardou is one of the few examples of a remarkable traditional settlement in Cyprus that has remained unspoiled over time and has managed to keep its architectural features and traditional way of life. It also presents a harmonious relationship between the built and the natural environment, enabling a perspective of the cultural landscape. Today the entire village is a living museum on the Tentative List of UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.