Bellapais or Beylerbeyi Village as it is known today is a small Mediterranean village with lemon and pomegranate trees. Bellapais Monastery that adds an important value to the village is derived from the common name "Abbaye de la Paix" (Peace Monastery) in French. Bellapais Monastery is one of the most splendid works of gothic architecture art that has to be absolutely seen in the Near East. It is a Latin monastery built on a hill that can fully sight the northern coasts and has a unique mountain panorama in the famous Beylerbeyi Village of the author of the "Alexandria Quartet" novel, Lawrence Durrell, which is at 4-5 km of distance to Kyrenia and one of the most beautiful points of the island. The monastery is built between the years of 1158-1205.
The first inhabitants of the monastery were the priests of the Augustinian Sect who moved to the island during the period when Selahaddin Eyyubi captured Jerusalem in 1187. A large portion of the structure which remained still until today was built by the French King III. Hugh between the years of 1267-1284. The colonnades and the mess surrounding the courtyard located in the middle part of the monastery on all the four sides were added during the period of the IV. Hugh between the years of 1324-1359. When the Ottomans conquered the island, Bellapais Monastery has been given to the Greek Orthodox Church.
In the entry of the Bellapais Abbey, there is a door whose tower expanding to the front yard is built lately. On the upper marble doorjamb of the door, there are the arms belonging to the Cyprus, Jerusalem and Lusignan kingdoms. The church located in the other end of the front yard which is under the shadows of the cypress trees is the best part of the monastery that remained still since 13th century. Behind the two marble sarcophagus which were used as wash basins by the priests at that time and remained from the Roman period, it is passed to the mess. The pulpit used to preach when the priests were eating still stands without losing the historic feature. It is possible to see a perfect example of the Gothic art in the mess. During the day it becomes luminous through the six big in the sea side and rose window on the east wall. During the night, classical music concerts are given today in the hall that still bears the traces of the leads of the war with special illumination appearance. The music played takes the visitors to a mysterious journey in this mystical structure as a complement to the historical place where once the priests with white cloaks were walking in the deep corridors. It hosts the classical music festival held in the last week of the May every year.
It is reached to the ladder that goes to the kitchen, cellar and toilets located downstairs through a door on the western door. The council chambers where the administrative tasks of the monastery were conducted are located in the east of the middle courtyard. A column that is considered to be come from the Byzantine church is located in the middle of the council chamber. In the upper floor of the working rooms there are the dormitories of the priests and a small treasure room in the northwest corner. Reliefs on the outside are the most successful examples of the Gothic stone masonry. Between the reliefs, the figures of a man who is attacked by two wild animals, a woman reading a book, a man staying between two mermaids, a man with a shield under the pear tree on whose branches a monkey and a cat are located, priest with cloak. Bellapais Monastery is open to the visitors between 09.00-19.30 on summer and 09.00-17.00 on winter.
Bellapais is a great base for a holiday in Northern Cyprus. Find list of hotels in Bellapais at Cyprus Holiday Advisor: Cyprusholidayadvisor.com