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Panoramic photo by Ergec Senturk EXPERT Taken 13:32, 26/04/2009 - Views loading...

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Bellapais Abbey, Monastery, Kyrenia, Cyprus

The World > Europe > Cyprus > Kyrenia > Bellapais

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To the north-east of Kyrenia (Girne), set on the side of a mountain, this twelfth-century monastery is a fine example of Gothic architecture of the Lusignan period.

The abbey comprises of a church, refectory, dormitory and storage rooms grouped around an inner courdyard.

It was originally occupied by a French brotherhood, the Order of Premontre, and was known to them as the "Abbaye de la Paix".

Bellapais AbbeyDuring the reign of the Latin kings, this order was held in great esteem. The abbot was allowed to wear the protifical mitre during mass, and was accorded the honour of carrying a sword and wearing golden spurs while riding.

The beauty of Bellapais is legendary. Set in the mountains, just ten minutes above Kyrenia, a visit to this 14th century Lusignan abbey with its fabulous location and pervasive atmosphere of calm is a must.

When Lawrence Durrell, famous British author, bought a house in the village of Bellapais, he felt 'guilty of an act of fearful temerity in trying to settle in so fantastic a place'.

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This panorama was taken in Bellapais

This is an overview of Bellapais

Bellapais is a small village in The Turkish Republic Of Northern Cyprus, about four miles from Girne (Keryneia) and was the home for some years of Lawrence Durrell who wrote about life in Cyprus in his book Bitter Lemons. He mentions passing the time drinking coffee under the Tree of Idleness in the village and there are two places which lay claim to being the spot. Unfortunately his book did not identify it completely or perhaps it is fortunate because two establishments can cash in on the name. His house, up a very steep climb has a plaque on it and one can have the pleasure of returning by a not-quite-so-perpendicular way which has an added interest in passing by old olive presses.

The jewel in the whole village is Bellapais Abbey, the abbey of peace, built by monks of the Premonstratensian order in the 13th century. It is a most imposing ruin in a wonderful situation commanding a long view down to Girne and the sea.

Most of the monastic buildings can be traced around the cloister : in Britain these would normally be built on the south side of the church so that to some extent it protected the living quarters from the cold air from the north. At Bellapais, the monastic buildings are on the north probably to be cooler although occasionally, no matter where, the position was dictated by the lay of the land.

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