Akrotiri is a village in Limassol District, located southwest of Limassol (Akrotiri) Salt Lake and northwest of Akrotiri Garrison. The 870 residents of the community work mainly in the SBAs and Limassol or are employed in farming. Traditionally, Akrotiri residents engaged in soft basketry and cattle farming and they will continue to do so to an extent. Both activities are relevant to the important wetland of Akrotiri Marsh. Therefore, the residents of the community have always had a sustainable relationship with the wetlands of the area and this has contributed towards their conservation.
Basketry is one of the oldest forms of craftsmanship and has remained almost unchanged through the centuries. In Akrotiri, ten species of rushes, sedges and grasses are used to create different items such as small baskets for anari cheese, bread baskets and panniers. In older times, basketry was the main occupation of the village residents but, nowadays, unfortunately, it has almost become obsolete as it is no longer profitable. The preservation of this traditional craft which is unique for the island is at the core of Akrotiri Environmental Education Centre. With this mind, the Centre organises basketry courses, visits to watch live basket weaving and buy baskets and it also participates in programmes with other partners for the revival, preservation and promotion of this craft.
The earliest signs of human activity on the island were discovered in Akrotiri. More particularly, there is a hunter-gatherers’ refuge from the pre-neolithic period called “Aetokremmos”. People who lived there over 12,000 years ago used to feed on pigmy hippos, pigmy elephants and other animals that existed in the area. During the excavation of the site in 1989, bones of at least 500 pigmy hippos, 3 pigmy elephants, one deer, one wild boar and other animals were found. On the same site, tools and jewellery were discovered which confirm human presence dating back to the same time. These findings constitute significant evidence about the animal species that used to live in Cyprus at back then.
Several other archaeological sites indicate that the area was indeed inhabited and highlight its importance over the course of time. More than 1,500 rock-cut tombs and sarcophagi from the Roman and Hellenistic period were discovered. In many other locations, there are archaeological sites from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Early Christian period, as well as other monuments and worship sites from more recent periods. Typical examples are the Lamnia archaeological site from the Hellenistic period, the Monastery of Saint Nicolas of the Cats dated from the early byzantine period, Saint Demetrianos, a chapel from the 12th century and Panagia Galaktotrofousa which is a unique building dating, once again, to the 12th century. An excavation is in progress in the area of Katalymata ton Plakoton to the south-west of the community, which has revealed a very important church. On the south coast, in the area of Nissarouin, an old harbour is being excavated.