Agios Dometios (Greek: Άγιος Δομέτιος or Αης Δεμέτης) is a suburb located west of the Cypriot capital Nicosia. It has a population of around 12,100 (2001 census) making it one of Cyprus’ biggest municipalities.
Following the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, 4/5 of Agios Dometios is under Turkish military control with the Green Line passing through the town. Since 2003 and the partial opening of the border between the occupied and free areas of Cyprus, Agios Dometios is the site of the islands most important checkpoint into and out of the Turkish controlled areas, through which thousands of Greek and Turkish Cypriots pass over the line every day.
Agios Dometios has existed since Byzantine times as a small village, located 4 kilometres west of Nicosia. Mention of Agios Dometios comes from as early as the Franks era. The town is named after Saint Dometios who originated from Persia in the 4th century AD and who became Christian later in his life. He lived in a cave in Mesopotamia and converted many people into Christianity. Roman Emperor Ioulianos accused Dometios of tricking people, so Dometios answered the Emperor that all of these harmless people visit him freely and he can’t just send them away. Ioulianos felt offended by his answer and ordered his death. Dometios was stoned to death at 362 AD. The church of Agios Dometios was built in the 17th century and is dedicated to the Saint. It’s built on a small hill and is one of the town’s main attractions.
Agios Dometios grew bigger in the 20th century and expanded until 1974. The Turkish invasion of 1974 caused the occupation of 37% of the island including 4/5 of Agios Dometios. Until today, the UN buffer zone runs through Agios Dometios and cuts the town into two pieces.
The Turkish invasion brought an economic decline, and many residents of the Nicosia suburb abandoned their homes due to fear of the invaders. Expansion halted up until 1986 when the municipality of Agios Dometios was founded. An organized plan to revive the town began, and up to now, new buildings, parks and roads are still being built while the population of Agios Dometios has been rapidly growing. Today Agios Dometios is a modern European town.
The parish of Agios Pavlos is located around the church of Saint Paul and consists mainly of refugee settlements due to the Turkish Invasion of 1974. The Agios Dometios junior high school is also located in Agios Pavlos.
Agios Dometios has been a municipality since 1986 and the mayor is elected directly by the people during the general elections of the Republic of Cyprus that take place every five years. The elections of December 17th of 2006 saw mayor Dr. Andreas Hadjiloizou get re-elected into office. He was elected into office in 1996 and re-elected in 2001.
Agios Dometios checkpoint
The partial opening of the borders between the controlled area of the Republic of Cyprus and the Turkish occupied area in April 2003 set up debate about opening some additional checkpoints both for cars and on foot along the Green Line. One of the areas selected was the end of Democratias avenue in Agios Dometios. Finally, an agreement was reached and in late April of 2004 both sides started separate works building a road and placing control buildings. On May 23, 2004 the checkpoint was given to the public, and on the first day thousands of Cypriots, on both sides passed through the check point. Since then, Agios Dometios has become the main passing point for vehicles, with thousands of Cypriots passing through every day.
Green Line/Buffer Zone
The Turkish Invasion in 1974 separated the island in half. From east to west a United Nations Buffer Zone or Green Line as it is better known runs through the island. Agios Dometios is no exception. With 4/5 of the municipality under occupation, the town is cut in two. Visitors can walk along the Green Line and watch the municipality come to an instant halt where the occupied area starts.
Agios Dometios is currently home of three Christian-Orthodox churches. The Agios (Saint) Dometios church is the oldest of the three and is built on a hill overlooking the old part of town. A truly spectacular sight, the church of Saint Dometios is a must view. The Saint George church is located on Grigori Afxentiou Avenue and is Agios Dometios’ main church. It’s dedicated to Saint George who according to the legend slaughtered a dragon with a spear. The third church of the town is Saint Paul’s church and is the newest of the three. It was built in the ’90s to replace the ageing church situated next to it which is dedicated to the same saint.
Agios Dometios has four parks. The Missing in Action park, which is dedicated to the Agios Dometios residents that went missing during the Turkish Invasion and are still MIA and is located opposite the Coca Cola factory, the Agios Dometios park which is located near the checkpoint into the occupied area, the Agios Pavlos park which is near the Junior High and the newest built park which is dedicated to the National Guard, and is also near the Junior High.
Agios Dometios has three elementary schools and one junior high school. The 1st elementary, located opposite the Saint Dometios church, is the oldest and was build during the British rule of the island. Prior to the invasion, a fourth elementary school existed and shared building facilities with the junior high school. A new building for the junior high was being built and was ready in June of 1974, but the Turkish troops took control of the new building a month later.
Agios Dometios has two main stadiums in which the municipality’s teams compete. The football stadium is located next to the 1st elementary and seats 1000 fans. It’s a gravel pitch and is not in very good condition. The Basketball arena or Municipal stadium is located in the western most part of the town, near the 3rd elementary school. It seats 1500 fans but the record is 4000 fans during the 1990 basketball finals were ENAD won the championship. It recently went through a facelift with the addition of a modern wooden parquet floor. It’s home court for ENAD basketball, Mavrommatis handball and EAS Indoor football teams.
Olympic torch relay
The 2004 Athens Olympics chose Cyprus as one of the torch destinations during its world wide tour. As a matter of fact, Cyprus was the last stop before the torch returned to Greece and the only country that the torch remained in for more than one day. On July 8 2004 the torch came to Agios Dometios and a total of 5 runners, carried it through the town.