Early settlers were surely attracted by the idyllic location in which this beautiful port still sits. The warm clear waters of the Mediterranean lap gently along miles of gorgeous sandy beaches, backed by the verdant slopes of the surrounding Five Finger Mountains. Set as a jewel within the crown of this stunning location is the historic city of Kyrenia itself. Throughout its history it has attracted the great civilizations to enjoy and add their stamp to its rich tapestry of culture.
Vestiges of Greek, Roman, French, Ottoman and British settlers’ architecture and customs remain, all tightly packed within the town’s cobbled streets, small harbour and magnificent castle. This epic castle of Byzantine origin sits spectacularly opposite the harbour wall. Once guarding the small bustling port, it now provides a splendid backdrop to the beautiful quayside cafes, bars and restaurants.
The citadel is packed with artefacts from its past; to be appreciated by the visitors within and by those who gaze at its magnificence from afar, perhaps from a table at one of those fabulous harbour-side restaurants. The beautiful port of Kyrenia rewards the fortunate visitor with an experience they will treasure forever and never, ever, forget.
Sitting on a natural terrace in the leafy Five Finger Mountains that rise south of Kyrenia is the beautiful village of Bellapais and its magnificent abbey.
The village is serenity itself, a step back to a time when the hustle and bustle of modern times would have been anathema to those lucky enough to live amongst its quiet lanes and whitewashed houses. Indeed the name Bellapais comes from the French ‘belle paix’, which translates as ‘beautiful peace’. It is also home to Bellapais Abbey, a remarkable example of monastic Gothic architecture perched high on the side of the mountain. Its grandeur is visible from afar, while the views from its grounds across the beautiful North Cyprus landscape, Kyrenia and the Mediterranean beyond are simply breath-taking.
The Abbey was built in the 13th century and has been embellished in subsequent centuries with the addition of further towers, gates and murals. Entry through a fortified gate leads to the church and its arched cloisters. The refectory is illuminated by natural light that streams through its windows, throwing shadowy shapes across the elegant columns within. A visit to Bellapais and the Abbey will sate the senses and satisfy the soul.