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.more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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....more
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...more
A simple but good lunch on a terrace right by the ruins of the Bellapais Abbey - with great sights to behold, and shade from tiny olive trees. very scenic, indeed. Super-friendly staff and classical background music. We had a simple salad to start with, whie thinking what we were going to have next. The salad turned out sohuge that we decided...more
Super home cooked food in a lovely setting. Family run with transport home provided. Beware, read the menu carefully as each main course comes with a 7 dish meze as well, so don't order a starter unless you are ravenous. Prices are as good (if not cheaper) than the larger establishments like Kyble or The Tree of Idleness. Both my wife & I had the...more
The Abbey has its own restaurant, once we were there the notice still said opening on 1st March. It was the 3rd March! As we were walking around the Abbey we looked into the restaurant and realised why the delay, four people to do the job and only two working while the two others resting in the shade :p The restaurant has one balcony which...more
It's easy to get to Bellapais from Kyrenia - any taxi would take you there for about 15 turkish lira. It's a 15 minutes drive and the trip is far from being as hair-rising as a notorious and often imprecise guide-book would let you think. Once there, there's no need to ask the taxi to wait - once you are done with your visits you are 99% sure to find another one there waiting for you. Failing this, most restaurants will drive you back into Kyrenia for free if you have a meal at their establishment.
Bellapais had a very famous fan - the writer Lawrence Durrell, who wrote here his well-known book "the bitter lemons of Cyprus". Some passages are dedicated to Bellapais and its Abbey, like the following: "Bellapaix, even in ruins, was a testimony to those who had tried, however imperfectly, to grasp and retain their grip on the inner substance of...more
Amazon.co.uk Review While Cyprus is often touted as a tourist destination, the origins of the prolonged war between the island`s Greek and the Turkish communities are less well known. In Bitter Lemons of Cyprus--first published in 1957--Lawrence Durrell blends the story of beginning a new life in this beautiful place with an account of the...more
Kyrenia is a staggering beautiful town on the North Coast of Cyprus. It also a more Mediterranian feel than any other part of the island. Kyrenia is decidely quaint, and has none of the hustle and bustle or larger towns or cities. You won't find a traffic-jam here!The attached picture shows me standing on top of Kyrenia Castle with the classic view...more
As most people know, Cyprus is a divided island. The Turks live in the North, the Greeks live in the South, and the UN peacekeepers live inbetween them in an area known as the Green Line. The South is also known as the Republic of Cyprus, and is recognised around the world. The North is also known as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC),...more
Ayia Sophia is a cathedral/mosque in Nicosia. She can trace her roots back as far as 1209 and was built during the crusades by French stone masons (Cyprus has been invaded many times over the years and has influences from all over Europe and beyond). Construction lasted 150 years, although the church was consecrated in 1326. Some parts of it were...more
Bellapais is a small village on a natural terrace only a few minutes drive from Kyrenia. It's a beautiful place, with small old houses and little lanes. There's not a lot to do, except try out some of the restaurants and - in particular - visit the stunning ruins of the gothic Bellapais Abbey. In other words, it's a perfect little side-trip.
The original name would have been Abbey de la Paix (Peace abbey) but this name was later corrupted by the Venetians, who called it Bella Paise - and eventually became Bellapais.
Fondest memory: The Abbey and the views over the Kyrenia coast - a very relaxing place with relaxing sights. It's definitely best to visit it right before lunchtime, so that you can have something to eat by the olive trees. The writer Lawrence Durrel had fallen in love with this village, and in particular with a mulberry tree, which he called the "Tree of Idleness".