Choletria is an abandoned (almost) village in Cyprus, about 15 km east of Paphos. There is a new village nearby which is sometimes called Choletria also or Nea Choletria (New Choletria). I am going to show you some photos of the old village (or what remains of it) which was relocated because of earthquakes in the second half of the 20th century.
Xeros Potamos is a river that runs close to the village. This is road here and it is fordable with a small car.
In 1953 an earthquake seriously damaged the village.
Relocation was considered but in the end it was decided to build the village up again.
However, in 1960 another earthquake came and that was more than enough. Village was slowly moved to its new location. The decision was inevitable. What wasn’t destroyed by earthquakes was in a constant threat because of landslides.
The slopes of the river valley are very unstable…
…because of this – bentonite clay. White is chalk. Bentonite was originally volcanic ash that weathered into clay minerals, mostly montmorillonite that swells when getting wet and contracts while drying.
This is what may happen to the clayey slope when it rains.
It isn’t very good idea to build houses on it. Bentonite is obviously easily erodable but it is also highly susceptible to liquefaction when saturated with water. It only takes some shaking (earthquake) to turn formerly more or less solid soil into liquid.
In addition to bentonite, chert (left) and marly chalk (right) are abundant as well.
Choletria is a sad example of a settlement that should not have built where it was. However, someone here seems to disagree. Well, the view is nice and neighbors are far away. Perhaps its worth the risk, who knows?
By the way, the latest relocation is not the first one in the history of Choletria. It was originally located on the coast but its inhabitants decided to leave because of frequent attacks by seaborne Saracen pirates. Unfortunate history indeed.