Steeped in history and tradition, Bellapais Village really does feel like a place where time has stood still. To an extent, it has, as the village has changed very little since Lawrence Durrell wrote his novel ‘Bitter Lemons of Cyprus’ about his adventures when buying a house in Bellapais in the 1950s. The village is also known as Bellapaix, ‘beautiful peace’, which is an apt description. Life here has always centred around Bellapais Abbey, but the village itself deserves some time spent in wandering its tiny streets and alleyways. In the heart of Bellapais, you will also find the ‘tree of idleness’. Superstition has it that those who sit under the spreading branches of this ancient mulberry will lose the will to do anything but relax and will never work again.
The central village square is adjacent to the Abbey and around it you will find a number of restaurants and cafes, perfect for a welcoming cool drink after a wander around the village. At night, the Abbey is gently floodlit and an evening meal here is a truly memorable experience. In the words of Durrell, “Bellapaix, even in ruins, was a testimony to those who had tried, however imperfectly, to grasp and retain their grip on the inner substance of the imagination, which resides in thought, in contemplation”
Also known as The Abbey of Peace (Abbaye de la Bella Paix), this stunning construction was originally built in the 13th century on a rocky site in the mountains overlooking Kyrenia, over 200 metres above sea level. The location was probably chosen both for security and for the water supply from the hillside above, but the scale of the building is stunning and the works must have been both arduous and hazardous. Today, much of the structure survives and the original, substantial refectory is in current use as a venue for concerts and lectures. The annual Bellapais Music Festival is held here and attracts classical musicians and singers from around the world. The adjoining church was used by the Orthodox Greek religion in the 20th century and is in a remarkable state of preservation, with an ornate pulpit and much iconography of significant importance. The Abbey is open daily for visitors and there is a small charge for entry.
Getting to Bellapais
There is no public transport to the village, however it is only a few miles from Kyrenia and taxis are readily available. A number of our hotels offer complimentary transport to Bellapais. One or two of the restaurants also provide free transport to and from your hotel. If you have hired a car, the route here is simple. There is a large car park next to the abbey, and a further one on the outskirts of the village.
Near the heart of the village, Bellapais Gardens is a boutique hotel that has been awarded Best Hotel in Northern Cyprus two years running by the hoteliers association. Overlooked by the abbey and set in beautifully landscaped gardens, the hotel has a gourmet restaurant with a terrace offering spectacular views.
In the outskirts of the village, Bella View hotel is a charming and quirky boutique property with good facilities and a very pleasant restaurant for guests. Close by, Bellapais Monastery Village is a slightly larger property, offering excellent standards and superb views.
All of the hotels in Bellapais are ‘adult only’, ensuring a very peaceful and quiet atmosphere here. Bellapais Gardens is also built on a fairly steep sloping location, so may not be suitable for any clients with walking difficulties.