Situated only a short distance to the south-east of Kyrenia in North Cyprus is one of the most spectacular Gothic buildings in Europe - Bellapais Monastery. It clings to the hillside high above the town, the abbey's hulking frame and delicate arches ascending from between the trees in a spectacular Gothic crescendo. If there is one place you must visit when in North Cyprus, Bellapais Monastery is that place!
Bellapais Monastery was built in several phases during the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. It consists of a church, refectory, dormitory and storage rooms, all of which were constructed under the guidance of King Hugh III between 1267-1284. King Hugh IV added the impressive pavilions that encircle the main courtyard some 50 years later.
Gothic influence is seen everywhere in the monastery grounds. Marble tombs, decorative archways and corridors along which vaulted ceilings run are just some of the delights that await. 15th century Italian frescos too can be found on the walls of the church.
The monastery resides within the tranquil and stunning surroundings of Bellapais village. Immortalised by the author Lawrence Durrell, Bellapais village is a charming collection of narrow street and twisting lanes that captures perfectly a Cyprus of a bygone era. The atmosphere around the village is relaxed, inviting those who visit it to unwind and loose themselves in a dream world capped by a deep azure sky.