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Akamas Guide

Akamas is the westernmost part of Cyprus, which includes the peninsula and the forest that bear the same name. Because of its singular physiognomy, it is considered as a distinct small district or region of Cyprus. A large part of the area is identified with the Akamas forest. South and east of its borders there is Lara and the privately owned land of the villages Inia, Drousia, Fasli, Androlikou, and Neo Chorio..
During previous times many Magnesium mines operated in the region of Akamas. The visitor can today discover quite a few of the mines' galleries, being abandoned for a number of years. Close to those stand the remains of furnaces and kilns that were used for the on-sight processing of the ore. The mines were also in operation during the British rule and were abandoned in the beginning of our century.

Rainfall: The region's average annual rainfall ranges between 450 and 600 millimetres. Since the area is surrounded by sea and is located next to the rain-bearing winds of the west, it is to be expected that humidity is quite high.

Vegetation: Today's vegetation in the region is rich, with pines, wild olives, and wild carobs being the dominant trees. The varied, bush-like flora includes, amongst many others, the lentisk, the wild myrtle, the fir - quercus, the Cyprus turpentine, and the gum cistus. Many wild flowers also grow in the region, which along with the blossoming bushes present a true riot of colours in the Spring. The thorny broom, the Cretan cistus with its white and pink flowers, a large variety of tulips, the cyclamen (especially around the Baths of Aphrodite), the rare tulip of Akamas, the yarrow, the "dakrya tis Panagias" ("tears of the Virgin Mary"), the daisies, and the lilies are some of the flowers that one can come across in Akamas during the Spring.
Many foreign botanists arrive every year -even as organised groups in the past few years -so as to study the wild flowers and the rest of the region's flora.
There isn't sufficient data regarding the vegetation in Akamas before the 9th century. However, thick and rich vegetation with about the same trees must have dominated, suffering a great deal due to the unrestrained pasturing of goats, the fires, and the cutting of trees for household and other purposes.

Wild life: The old writers, which made mention of the Akamas region during various eras, talk about the existence of an interesting wild life that included horses, oxen, boas, wild goats, and some wild beasts.
Today there are goats brazing in the region of Akamas, while one can also find donkeys that roam freely. There also are foxes, many snakes, and other reptiles. Naturally the image is completed by various kinds of birds, both endemic and seasonal visitors. Very few shepherds exist in the area.

The Cape of Akamas: It is the westernmost cape of Cyprus. According to one version, it took this name from the legendary hero Akamas who established there the beautiful city of Akamantida. In the medieval times the cape was known under the name "Cape of Saint Epifanios, while during the period of the British rule it was known as Arnaoutis.

Forest of Akamas: It is the westernmost forest of Cyprus in the peninsula of Akamas, which includes about 42,861 "skales" (1 "skala" = 14,400 sq. ft) of public (state-owned) land. Apart from the very rich, bush-like flora, the most dominant trees are pines, wild olive-trees, and wild carobs. Within this range there are 117 "trapped" pieces of privately-owned land with a total size of about 884 "skales". The biggest part of Akamas is low, bushy vegetation, while the real forest occupies only 8,238 "skales" of land.

The Peninsula of Akamas: The peninsula of Akamas is the westernmost peninsula of Cyprus and it includes that segment which stretches from south of Aphrodite's Baths to the east. The peninsula of Akamas, which -as expected -is surrounded by sea on three of its sides, is not identified with the forest of the region of Akamas.

Legends and Tradition: Several scattered remains in the region are the "witnesses" of the history and heritage of Akamas. There is no settlement there today. However, there are remains of many churches, tradition raising their number to 101. Today most of them are known as names of places or are deserted.
The area of Akamas must have suffered great disasters because of the pirates' raids, mainly those of the Arab tribes. In the west beach of Inia some tall and isolated rocks stand in the sea, known to the region's inhabitants as "Karavopetres" (Ship-rocks). According to tradition, when pirates -especially during the times of the Arab raids but also later on -reached the area they docked their ships somewhere in this region before starting the looting of the villages, the monasteries, and the chapels. Besides, this finds an explanation in the fact that there are no villages anymore, which must have moved toward the inland. According to another tradition, somewhere in this region there was the monastery of "Panagia tis Vlou" (Virgin Mary of Vlou).
The entire region of Akamas is ridden with legends. Many names of venues, combined with geomorphologic phenomena, speak of the romances of "Rigaina" (Queen) with "Digenis", and of Aphrodite with Adonis. Such venues are Aphrodite's Baths, the rock of Digenis in the "Dkyo Potamoi" (Two Rivers), the cave of Rigaina, and others. This is quite natural since Akamas with its thick forest and its aromatic environment, the wildness of the landscape, and its picturesque as well as romantic terrain, possessed all the prerequisites for seating the "kingdom" of the great Goddess of Love.

Fontana Amaroza: As far as Fontana Amaroza is concerned, many disagree on whether it should be identified with Aphrodite's Baths. Fontana Amaroza is marked as being a lot higher up in the Akamas peninsula than Aphrodite's baths. Perhaps some research ought to be done and maybe today's vegetation cannot be the main factor of comparison with regards to all that is written. Besides, the water coming from the limestone rocks can sustain some alteration as the centuries go by, as indeed can the flora that is constantly threatened by a number of dangers. However, the descriptions by various writers and travellers regarding the Fountain of Love indicate that Fontana Amaroza resembled today's Aphrodite's Baths a lot.

There are three versions with regards to the name of the region:
1. From the name of the legendary hero Akamantas who established there a colony and the city Akamantida.
2. From the privative "a" and the verb "kamno" ("do", "produce"), that is, "akamotos" (not cultivated), exactly because there is no cultivation.
3. From the privative "a" and the verb "kaio" ("burn"), that is, "akaos" (that does not burn), because according to tradition it was the only region of Cyprus that had not burned from the extensive fires set by the Saracens.