Heading Down The Perfume Trail

Attractions, Featured, Routes

Written by Jules

January 19, 2021

Ever wondered how some rides become great days out?


So… in passing conversation a friend of mine said, did you know the oldest perfume in the world was discovered here in Cyprus? A quick shake of the head was followed by a load more questions. How old? whereabouts in Cyprus? what did it smell like? and such…

One of the most amazing and sometimes odd thing about living here in Cyprus is the history. Now I’m no history buff and archaeology has never particularly been my thing, but there is something about living amongst the cultural and historical stories/myths/legends that make up Cyprus’ rich history, and there seems to be always something new to discover. Luckily the roads to these new destinations nearly all fill the ‘amazing’.

So what was a couple of perfume loving girlie bikers to do but to saddle up and go explore!

We wanted to make a full day of it as lockdown was on the horizon where we would soon need SMS approval to leave the house. So we had a quick look at our maps, picked some enticing looking roads and with the sun casting a warm 21 degrees, set off on our perfume trail.

rose perfume factory

It seems a team of Italian archaeologists unearthed the treasures of the ancient perfume in 2007 in a small village near Limassol called Pyrgos.

So we headed out enjoying the lovely wide sweeping bends and clifftop views towards Limassol, touched the motorway for a quick 5km and then wound our way to the outskirts of the village of Pyrgos.

One of the slightly odd things about some of the archaeological treasures of Cyprus is that modern life springs up around them.

So after stopping off at a local store, where the local lady insisted that right was left and left was right, we finally found the ancient ruins of the worlds very first perfumery virtually in the back garden of a large stunningly white mansion.

The first thing that surprised us was the size of the site. We quickly realised this must have been a full-on perfume making factory with perfumes being produced on a much larger scale than we anticipated for the era. The perfumes were scented with extracts of lavender, bay, rosemary, pine or coriander, kept in tiny alabaster bottles with the remaining traces being more than 4,000 years old! At this time of the year, the site was closed and we could not get any closer, so we got back on our bikes, excited to continue our perfume themed ride. We headed up to the mountain village of Agros to visit the Rose Factory.

Agros sits at 1100 meters along the Pitsillia Region of the Troodos Mountains, a 50-minute ride through the most amazing scenery the island has to offer, with the roads taking us up and up and round and round. Wide sweeping bends swept into single track roads and back to back hairpins. We bypassed quaint villages seeming to drop off the side of the mountains, and almost forgot we had an end game with the sheer joy of the ride, as bend after bend opened up onto one stunning vista after another.

We arrived at the village of Agros, carved into the mountainside as is the habit of Troodos villages, parked up outside the Rose Factory and were warmly welcomed in for a short tour.

According to the locals, the roses with the thorny stems were originally planted to prevent goats from destroying the village plantations such as potatoes, tomatoes, and other crops. The Tsolakis family in Agros started planting a species of Rose called Rosa Damascena in 1948. The harvest season of the roses is from April to May, which would definitely be the best time of year to visit as the mountainside would be full of the most amazing Damask Pink!

It was interesting to learn how they extract the rose oil ending up with the byproduct of Rosewater, which is used so often in cooking here in Cyprus. There were many products ranging from rose water, liquor, candles, cosmetics, oils to look at and sample, and guess what, there is rose marmalade, chocolate and toothpaste! We even got given a piece of rose chocolate which was soooo nice. Again with it being winter season, there was no distilling going on but it didn’t detract from the visit, although we will definitely be going back for the full experience in May when the roses will be in full bloom and the distillery up and working.

Leaving the factory we rode back out through the village, which had much more to offer than we had to time to explore, so we left the quiet mountain village of Agros and look forward to another trip back to what the locals call the Rose Village.

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