We drove up to Bellapais lying in the northern slopes of the Pentadaktylos mountains so as to visit the well preserved ruins of a Gothic Abbey, the Bellapais Abbey, whose name derives from the French meaning of Abbaye de la Paix.
The first monks to settle there were Augustinians from Jerusalem, who had been forced to flee the city after its capture by Saladin. The first buildings are believed to have been erected in the early 13th century, though the main section was built during the reign of the Lusignan kings Hugo III and Hugo IV. The Abbey was later destroyed by the Turks following their conquest of the island.
We walked around the main courtyard and the church soon finding ourselves back in the front courtyard with its 18 arches. The whole ensemble was quite impressive and more as we started looking at some interesting architectural details - the remains of the 15th century Italian mural to be seen on the porch, the church's intricately carved pulpit, the bishop's throne, the two sarcophagi dating from the Roman times in the courtyard with huge cyprus trees planted in the centre, the coats of arms of Cyprus, Jerusalem and the Lusignans on the marble lintel over the door leading to the dining hall, the different stone carvings around the courtyards, just to name a few.
We took one of the three stairs from the cloisters to explore the upper floor of the Monastery which afforded a magificent view of both the sea and the mountains before having walked down into the rather impressive cellarium and the kitchens.