The mountains are unique geologically and one of the few places in the world where geologists can study what was once the oceanic crust without getting wet. Pillow lava, resulting from the underwater volcanic eruption 90 million years ago that gave rise to the island, can easily be seen along roads and hillsides all over the Troodos area. It is one of the five most rich in copper areas in the world and the island, whose name in Greek is 'Kypros', may have given the metal its Latin name, cuprum.Four main trails cover the area – “Atalante” goes round Mount Olympus; “Persephone” leads to a spectacular viewpoint; “Kalidonia” leads to the Caledonian waterfalls; “Artemis” encircles the Chionistra summit. Other trails go across the Madhari ridge. Many important features or plants are signposted along the way pointing to the numerous endemic plant species of the area.
Birdwatchers may also spot the rare and protected eagle, the griffon vulture, or the colourful hoopoe, and of course the nightingale, which did not let the Nobel winner poet, George Sepheris, sleep in Platres. Occasionally if you are lucky you may see a Cyprus mouflon, a kind of wild sheep peculiar to the island, which roams free in the extensive forests of western Troodos and is the symbol for the island’s national carrier.
Some of these paths lead to splendid monasteries or tiny painted Byzantine churches. Ten of these churches have been put on the UNESCO World Heritage List for their colourful frescoes on walls and apses and their unique architecture of pitched timber roofs.