By Ismail Veli….
Lorthina, Looretzena, Louroujina, Lurucina or Akincilar, call it what you like. This village with an estimated 900 years of history has been through the Lusignan, Venetian, Ottoman, British and Independence, rule but never has it come close to extinction as it faces today.
According to Michael Toumazou’s book entitled ”The Archaeology of Past and Present in the Malloura Valley,” edited by Derek Counts, P. Nick Kardulias, 2012, Lurucina in 1562 under Venetian rule was the largest village in the area.
- Malloura (Francomates) 81
- Athienou/Atirne 61
- S Zorzi 1
- Damidia 31
- Lympia 88
- Louroujina/Lorthina 186
- Potamia 66
Move forward to 1878 to the year when British rule took over from the Ottomans and in their first census in 1881 the population was 598. By 1946, which was the last British census in Cyprus the population grew to 1816.
Sadly today’s people of Lurucina are spread far and wide. Only 390 were recorded in the 2011 census. Most who left have settled in the UK, Australia, Turkey, and all over Cyprus. Akdogan/Lisi has the largest concentration while province Kyrenia has many UK based Lurucina folk. The UK has the largest number of Lurucina people outside of Cyprus. Many people have a powerful attachment to their once beautiful village. The dream of returning for permanent settlement in particular to retire is a dream many share. But how can they? The village may be only ten minutes walk away from the nearest neighbour of Lympia, but to actually get there one needs to drive north past Ercan airport on to the Famagusta road, turn west to Nicosia, pass through Kermiya back down south, in short the drive to Lympia and back to Lurucina is roughly 120 mile round trip, no you have not read wrong, a ten minute walk under the present conditions is 120 miles. Regardless of which party has been in power none have come close in trying to reverse the downward trend.
Recently a massive attempt by the Lurucina/Akincilar residents to win the hearts and minds of all Cypriots and highlight the near extinction of this once lively village has begun. The reasons are obvious, not a single young person is prepared to resettle under present conditions. The economic viability has been destroyed and the time and cost of travelling to and from any major town is simply not viable. A new door to Lymbia however would clearly give the village a lifeline. Everyone would have access to surrounding towns within 3-4 miles and the Greek Cypriots will themselves have easier access to Ercan airport while Turkish Cypriots will find it easier to drive to Larnaca airport. In addition, many foreign tourists and other immigrant residents who have chosen Cyprus as their retirement home will have faster and easier access to airports on both sides of the border. In short, a win win situation based on economic practicalities should in theory help to rejuvenate the local economy. Having a small restaurant or supermarket in Lurucina would suddenly find a new wave of customers from all sides, thereby giving the potential for small new investors to open a business at the crossroads. In addition, Lurucina has a multilingual heritage of fluency in Turkish, Greek, and many in English.
We, therefore, invite decision makers on all sides to help resolve this humanitarian issue for the benefit of all and help give this once vibrant and populous village a chance to reverse the downward trend, if not the destruction of Lurucina will be sealed forever. we simply cannot accept this as it will be another shameful episode in the tragic history of Cyprus. Is this what we really want?
Perhaps the myth of its founding Latin beauty Lorenzia is still watching over the valley, and beckoning its children to return to the bosom of her heart. In the meantime, however, Lorenzia can only shed a tear for her lost children spread across the globe.
To learn more about the village of my birthplace, please go to my website Families of Lurucina click here.