A Walk through the Melitis Forest

Heading to the southern side of the Akamas peninsula?

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Heading to the southern side of the Akamas peninsula? You are probably planning to stroll through the village of Agios Georgios, visit the beach at Lara Bay, and hike through Avakas Gorge. But there is another, often overlooked stop to add to your itinerary: the Melitis Forest. Drive past Agios Georgios on the road toward the Akamas, and you will see a sign for it on your right. Head down the trail, which is lined on both sides by rough stone walls. The trail passes over flat slabs of rock and through a meadow; in Spring, you will find wildflowers there, including an abundance of tall asphodels. These perennials grow to a height of one metre and boast a profusion of white flowers tinged with red. The ancient Greeks believed that the roots of the asphodels fed the souls of the deceased, so they planted them in graveyards. Indeed, their presence gives a clue to what you will find next on your walk: an ancient necropolis. About a dozen underground tombs have been carved into the stone here. You can climb down their stairs, pass over the thresholds of doorways ornamented with pilasters carved into their stone frames, and investigate their chambers. Archaeologists date the necropolis to the Hellenistic and early Byzantine eras; the tombs are thought to have belonged to wealthy families. You can continue your walk into the forest, which consists primarily of scrubby pines and lentisk bushes. Bring a picnic and enjoy the views of the coast.