The tiny village of Mandria (or, according to history, Mandrio) is thought to have been founded around 500 years ago by Turkish Cypriots who originally called it ‘green plain’ (‘Yesllona’) thanks to the variety of crops and flat, coastal location. Over the last 120 years the population has more than quadrupled to around 700 inhabitants.
Up until the late 1950s, small Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities lived in harmony in Mandria, but in the early 1960s all the Greek Cypriots (around 35-40 families) were driven out due to racial tension. They were forced to abandon their way of life entirely, and in the process they left their lifelong homes and places of worship open to looting. Turkish Cypriots continued to live in Mandria until the Turkish invaded in the mid 1970s and the Turkish Cypriots migrated north, allowing Greek Cypriot refugees to repopulate the village and begin to rebuild their lives.
These repopulations lead to a humble pride in the village, a plan of restoration and refurbishment and a commitment to its upkeep. The locals have their own refugee cooperative bank, and money has been poured into the rebuilding of churches and chapels destroyed by the tensions.
Planning law prevents excessive development which would spoil the idyllic scenery, and the Community Council have improved and maintained local roads, parks and schools. In the late 1970s, land and building costs were donated to the residents from the Cypriot government, and the tourist trade has been welcomed, albeit cautiously, as hotels begin to spring up around the outskirts of Mandria village.
The ancient town of Arsinoe was founded near the modern day site of Mandria in 300BC, around the same time that the Tombs of the Kings were built. The King of Egypt at the time, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, named the city after his second wife and sister, Arsinoe II. Arsinoe is one of many ancient ruins in the Paphos area; the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tombs of the Kings, is a massive underground necropolis from the same era which served as a burial place for wealthy and powerful locals. As well as several historic monasteries and fantastic byzantine relics, the area has even more ancient links with mythology, being situated within a few kilometres of the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite.