Kythrea is situated near the ancient city-kingdom of Chytroi, which was founded by Chytros, grandson of the Athenian King Akamas. According to one tradition, the name Kythrea derives from Chytroi (Χύτροι > *Χυτρέα > Κυθρέα). According to another tradition, it derives from the name of the Greek Ionian island Kythera, from where millstones were transferred to Kythrea's watermills. The small town was watered for millennia by the Kefalovrysos spring; however, shortly after the 1974 Turkish invasion, the water stopped flowing. Other forms of the name include Chytri, Cythraia, Cythereia, Cythroi, Chytrides, Chytros and Chytria.
With the spread of Christianity in Cyprus, Chytroi became a bishopric. The first bishop, whose name is known is Pappus, is mentioned in the Life of Epiphanius of Salamis as having been bishop for 58 years of the "miserable town of Chytria", and as having died a martyr at some unspecified date, which must have been under either the pagan emperors Licinius or Maximinus II, or the ArianConstantius II. The acts of the Council of Chalcedon (451) show that Bishop Photinus was represented there by his deacon Dionysius, and those of the Second Council of Nicaea in 767 that Bishop Spyridon attended in person.
Contemporary documents are lacking concerning Demetrianus, whom Henri Grégoire described as perhaps the most obscure of the local saints of Cyprus. The medieval Leontios Machairas is the earliest writer to make even a brief mention of his name. According to the oldest Life of Demetrianos, published in the 18th century, he became bishop in around 885, was captured by Arabs and taken to Egypt with many of his faithful, but by his prayers obtained the liberation of all.
Kythrea is a remarkable archaeological area. One outstanding statue discovered in the area is the bronze statue of Roman Emperor Sepimius Severus, exhibited in the archaeological museum of Nicosia. The Kythrea municipality was established in 1915.
Displaced inhabitants of Kythrea, now located in Nicosia and elsewhere, maintain a municipality in exile. It shares premises with the similarly-displaced municipality of Lapithos at 37 Ammochostou Street, Nicosia.