Bellapais Things to Do

  • Things to Do
    by mickeyboy07
  • Things to Do
    by mickeyboy07
  • Things to Do
    by mickeyboy07

Most Recent Things to Do in Bellapais

  • Bitter Lemons

    by karebee Written Sep 16, 2012

    We paid a visit to the Bitter Lemons house while we were in Bellapais a couple of weeks ago & were lucky enough to be there on a day when the owners brother Mat was giving a talk & tour. We were given delicious refreshments & it was a really interesting morning. Also recommend the Gardens of Irini where we had lunch it was idyllic.

    View from Bitter Lemons
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    Monastary

    by mickeyboy07 Written Jul 26, 2012

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    Set four miles east of Kyrenia is the small village of 'Bellapais' and its claim to fame the old Monastary or Abbey as its sometimes called.Pitched on the side of a mountain,this twelth century Monastary is a fine example of Gothic architecture of the Lusignan Period.The Abbey comprises of a church,refectory,dormitary and storage rooms based around an inner courtyard.It was originally occupied by a French Brotherhood 'The Order of Premontre' and was known to them as 'Abbaye de la Paix'.During the rain of the Latin Kings this order was held in great esteem.The Abbot was allowed to wear protifical mitre during mass,and was accorded the honour of carrying a sword and wearing golden spurs when riding.

    The Abbey is open all year round,entry is free although a small donation is expected for upkeep.

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    Bitter Lemons!

    by easyoar Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    This plate sits above the doorway at Lawrence Durrells house. It commemorates both Durrell living in the house between 1953 and 1956, and the book he wrote (entitled "Bitter Lemons" describing the troubles and fighting that went on between the British, Greeks and Turks. It got fairly bloody at times. Durrell was himself British, but seemed to be left alone (most of the time) by all sides as he stayed pretty neutral and had always lived alongside the natives rather than with his fellow British.

    It's a good read, and well worth having a look at if you are planning to visit Cyprus, as it will give you a good view of some of the islands more recent histiory, and why there is still animosity between Greeks and Turks on the island.

    In case you are wondering, Lemons are easily grown on the island and you can still see large orchards of them growing in Cyprus.

    Bitter Lemons - the plate above Durrell's door
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  • Haircut

    by Liontracker Updated Nov 30, 2009

    Whilst visiting Bellapais one thing that will enhance your visit is to have a haircut , the barber is just up the hill leading away from the Abbey , he is very friendly and the whole experience is really great , well worth the time and little money .

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    Bellapais Abbey

    by call_me_rhia Updated Dec 24, 2007

    Bellapais Abbey is the main reason why one would visit Bellapais - it's the ruins of an abbey. more than a "full-standing" abbey - but it's so picturesque that it would be a pity not to visit it.

    Its construction dates back to the early 13th century, near Kyrenia in Northern Cyprus and in the past it had both been a residence of the Bishops of Kyrenia and their refuge during the Arab raids of the 7th and 8th centuries. Later on it also became the home of various kings and even a military hospital.

    The abbey as you see it now, after changes and restorations, is an impressive Gothic abbey with a belfry above the entrance. There are beautiful arches on three sides of the cloisters, a lavabo made of two Roman sarcophagi where the monks performed ablutions, a Chapter House, a Common Room, where the monks used to work and study, and a stunning and large Refectory.

    the abbey

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    Arriving at Bellapais

    by easyoar Updated Jul 1, 2006

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    Just before you arrive in Bellapais, it is well worth pulling over and checking out the view. This is about the only place that you will be able to see the village and abbey with the mountain behind it properly.

    Bellapais is the old Greek name for the village. These days it also goes under the names of Beylerbeyi and Bellabayis.

    The most beautiful part of this village is definitely the Abbey. it is unlikely that any tourists would actually bother to visit Bellapais if this abbey was not here. The other more minority attraction of Bellapais is that Lawrence Durrell (bother of the more famous Gerald Durrell) lived here (and wrote a book about his Cyprus Experience during the fight for independence. The book is titled "Bitter Lemons").

    Arriving at Bellapais - With Mountain behind it
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    Lawrence Durrell's old House

    by easyoar Updated Jun 2, 2006

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    In case you fancy looking for Lawrence Durrell's old house, this is what it looks like - it isn't pretty! Apparently it has been rather tastelessly redesigned and rebuilt since he moved out, which I can easily believe having seen it. It was nothing like I expected, and was a bit of a disappointment.

    If you look over the doorway (it's on a slope, so the doorway is not level with the ground!), you will see a small yellow circle - more on this in the next tip! The house is still privately owned, and I believe belongs to a German couple.

    In case you haven't read my earlier tips, Lawrence Durrell was famous for writing a book about Cyprus called Bitter Lemons, which is still easy to buy today.

    ** Update from katandalfie**
    Hi,
    I just read your comments about Lawrence Durrell's old house Bitter Lemons and
    wanted to assure you that inside the crumbly exterior it is simply magical. It
    is actually owned by friends of my father (who are English not German!) and we
    have stayed there twice now. If you ever return to Bellapais and get the chance
    to step inside the house I am sure you will see what I mean.
    Cathy.

    Lawrence Durrell's Old House
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    Bellapais Village

    by easyoar Written Feb 27, 2005

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    This photo shows Bellapais Village as you would see it from up on the Abbey. You can see the Cypress Trees that Durrell talks about being planted in his book (they are the tall thin pointy ones that are dark green). Behind these you can see the Tree of Idleness and the cafe of the same name. You can also see the small village square inbetween the Cypress Trees and the Tree of Idleness.

    If you go to the right of the Tree of Idleness and walk up the hill, you will find Lawrence Durrells house on your left hand side after a shortish uphill walk.

    As you can see, most of the houses in the village are of the traditional whitewashed kind that is so popular in Cyprus and other Mediterranean countries.

    View of Bellapais Village from the Abbey
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    The large Refectory at Bellapais Abbey

    by easyoar Written Feb 27, 2005

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    For me the most impressive room inside Bellapais Abbey is the refectory. A refectory is a large room where many people eat, normally sat at long wooden tables, so there can be tens of people all sat along a table.

    The monks used to eat in here (once they had washed their hands in the sarcophogus!). There are six beautifully shaped windows in the room, that overlook the sea. Don't lean out too far though, there is a big enough drop that it could kill you!

    There is also a small pulpit in this room. These days there is a small stage at the back of the room which is used occasionally for performances.

    This picture shows a small rose window high up near the roof. If you enlarge the photo and look below the rose window, you will see bullet marks in the wall. I'm ashamed to say that these were put there by the British Troops who were stationed there in the late 1800's. They used the room as a shooting range...

    Refectory with Rose Window in Bellapais Abbey
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    The Cloisters at Bellapais Abbey

    by easyoar Written Feb 27, 2005

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    A Cloister is basically a covered rectangular walkway around an open area such as a courtyard. They are very traditional in monasteries and abbeys, and the monks used to use them to walk around and contemplate whatever monks contemplate about!

    The Cloister at Bellapais Abbey is stil lin reasonable condition, and some of the best parts of it can be seen here. There are various carvings of both human and monster heads (I think you can see one on the lefthand side of this photo).

    This cloister dates back to the 1300s, although I am not sure when it was last used as a cloister. A church in the abbey was used by Greek Cypriots until as late as 1976 before they were forced to leave (Cyprus was partitioned into Greek and Turkish sides in 1974).

    The Cloisters at Bellapais Abbey
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    Roman Sarcophagus, What did the Monks use it for?

    by easyoar Written Feb 27, 2005

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    Inside the Cloister of Bellapais Abbey, you can see an old Roman Sarcophagus that is quite intricately decorated with some Lions heads and people.

    The most obvious guess for what you do with a Sarcophagus is to put a dead body in, and no doubt the Romans did this. However the monks in Bellapais Abbey had a very different use for this Sarcophagus. Hopefully the body was already missing, because they used the Sarcophagus as a wash basis before they went in to eat their meals in the refectory next door.

    Not the most tasteful use of what is basically a coffin! I think I would rather not wash my hands at all!

    Roman Sarcophagus, What did the Monks use it for?
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    Climbing Bellapais Abbey

    by easyoar Written Feb 27, 2005

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    As you look at Bellapais Abbey from the town, you will notice some old steps on the left hand side of the Abbey (they tend to fly the Turkish and TurkishCypriot flags at the top here). There is no guard rail, and they just go up to a platform. It feels a bit uncomfortable going up and down as they are steep and it would be easy to fall, but they give access to a great view once you get up there!

    This picture shows one such view you can get from the top point of the climb. It's certainly high enough that you can look down on the arches and into some of the ruined rooms. You can also get good views into the town.

    Looking down on Bellapais Abbey
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    Bellapais is even on the banknotes!

    by easyoar Written Feb 27, 2005

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    Bellapais is considered such a treasure in Cyprus that the Greek government even put it on their bank notes (the £1 note to be precise). This is despite the fact that Bellapais falls within the Turkish occupied North of Cyprus these days.

    I believe Cyprus has moved to the Euro these days (or is in the process of moving to the Euro), so you are unlikely to see anymore of these notes, but I managed to dig this one up from a trip several years back (well OK, it was a few more than several...).

    If you saw my previous tip, you will recognise the pointed arches that characterise the ruined part of the Abbey.

    A Greek Cypriot ��1 with Bellapais Abbey on
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    Bellapais Abbey

    by easyoar Written Feb 27, 2005

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    The best time to visit Bellapais Abbey is in the spring time when the flowers are out (this picture was taken on May 04th - too many years ago!). They add a nice dash of colour to the Abbey!

    This Abbey has its roots going back as far as 1200. Some Augustinian Priests fled from Palestine and moved to Cyprus and built the Abbey of Saint Mary of the Mountain. Shortly afterwards the Abbey was taken over by the Premonstratensian order that were responsible for Ayia Sophia in Nicosia.
    The monks in this religious order wore white robes, and it was around this time that the Abbey got its nickname of the White Abbey.

    The beautiful but ruined Bellapais Abbey
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Bellapais Things to Do

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