My friend Merja sent me this nice card about the Bellapais Abbey in Cyprus. Now, Bellapais is a small village in the Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus, about four miles from the town of Kyrenia. The village was the home for some years ofLawrence Durrell, who wrote about life in Cyprus in his book Bitter Lemons. He mentions passing the time drinking coffee under the Tree of Idleness in the village and there are two places which lay claim to being the spot. Unfortunately his book did not identify it completely, or perhaps fortunately, because two establishments can now profit from the name. His house, up a very steep climb, has a plaque on it and one can have the pleasure of returning by a not-quite-so-perpendicular way that passes by old olive presses.
The jewel of the village is Bellapais Abbey or "The Abbey of Peace”. Built by canons regular of the Premonstratensian Order in the 13th century, it is a most imposing ruin in a wonderful position commanding a long view down to Kyrenia and the Mediterranean Sea.
Most of the monastic buildings surround the cloister. In Britain these would normally be built on the south side of the church so to some extent protect the living quarters from the cold air from the north. At Bellapais, the monastic buildings are on the north, probably to be cooler, although occasionally the lay of the land dictated position.
Today the site is a museum, which also hosts a restaurant and a cafe.