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Bellapais Monastery

Listed under Churches & Abbeys in Cyprus.

  • Photo of Bellapais Monastery
  • Photo of Bellapais Monastery
  • Photo of Bellapais Monastery
Photo of Bellapais Monastery
Photo by flickr user Pot Noodle
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Set in the peaceful hillside village of Bellapais, this intriguing building dates back to the year 1200, when it was established by an order of white-robed Augustinian monks as St. Mary of the Mountain. Rumoured to have served as a reliquary for a fragment of the true cross left to the monks by a wealthy knight, the monastery attracted thousands of pilgrims and was widely celebrated and added to until the Ottoman invasion in 1570, when it was looted and damaged. However, it still retains many of its original Gothic features and the families of Bellapais are even said to be descended from the original monks, so from 1960 onwards, when Cyprus became independent, restoration work was carried out. Visitors to Bellapais can learn about life as it might have been for the 13th century monks as well as about the life of the village’s most famous resident, Lawrence Durrell, who lived there and taught at Nicosia high school for three years in the 1950s, during which time he wrote ‘Justine’ and took inspiration for the autobiographical ‘Bitter Lemons of Cyprus’, both of which were published in 1957, the year after he left. In the latter, he describes sitting beneath the Tree of Idleness in the village, drinking coffee and watching the locals go about their business – but there appear to be two such trees, so it’s up to you to decide which you think is the real one, as no one seems to know for sure!

Written by  larapiegeler.

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