March 6, 2013

0542 NORTH CYPRUS - Ballapais Abbey

The island of Cyprus was inhabited since 10th millennium BC, and its strategic position in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea brought it many advantages but also disadvantages throughout history. Settled by Greeks in the 2nd millennium BC, it was subsequently occupied by Assyrians, Egyptians, and Persians, from whom it was seized by Alexander the Great. Subsequent rule by Ptolemaic Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Byzantines, Arab caliphates, the French Lusignan dynasty, and the Venetians, was conquered in 1571 by the Ottomans, who retained the control until 1878, when it was placed under British administration. It declared its independence in 1960, but following the coup d'état orchestrated in 1974 by the Greek military junta, which aimed the union of the Cyprus with Greece, the Turkish army invaded the island, which was split in two. In 1983, Turkish Cypriots proclaimed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Turkey, which controls de facto the northeastern part of the island.

At about 5km of Kyrenia (Girne in Turkish), a town on the northern coast of Cyprus, de facto under the control of North Cyprus, is the village of Bellapais, known for the ruin of the abbey with same name (from the French Abbaye de la Belle Paix - Abbey of Peace) built by the French Augustinian monks between 1198 and 1205, when Cyprus was a Crusader kingdom ruled by the French House of Lusignan. The Abbey consists of a cloister and a church, which borders the courtyard and is the best preserved part of the complex. The main entrance is through a fortified gate on the south side, with a tower that is a later addition. The forecourt leads to the cloister, which has 18 arches. Under one of the arches on the north side there are two Roman sarcophagi that the monks once used as lavabos. The site is a museum, but also, as can be see in the postcard, hosts a restaurant and a cafe.

About the stamp
North Cyprus has issued on May 8, 2012 two stamps (with the same value, 80 kuruş) for the theme Visit... of the Europa Stamps 2012, but they don't bear the official Europa stamps logo, because the Turkish post of Cyprus isn't a PostEurop member. One of this is on the postcard.

Cyprus - Wikipedia
Bellapais Abbey - Wikipedia

sender: Filiz Yüzbaş (direct swap)
sent from Girne (North Cyprus), on 25.02.2013
photo: Tevfik Ileri

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