Getting to North Cyprus
22 November, 2009
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Antiphonitis Monastery


Antiphonitis Monastery

Hidden away in a wooded valley approximately 4 miles (6.5km) from the village of Esentepe is the 12th C church of Antiphonitis, (Christ of the Echo).

It is not difficult to find, just follow the signs from Esentepe village centre, and the drive through the mountains is quite spectacular as the track twists its way among the pine trees and arbutus covered hillsides. There are magnificent views over the coastline and in springtime there are masses of wild flowers.

The church is small and very beautiful, with an interior that was once decorated in fine frescoes. Regrettably over the years the frescoes have been vandalised and blame for this cannot be laid at the door of any particular culprit as graffiti on the walls is written in Greek, Turkish and English!

The dome of the church, with a fresco of Christ Pantocrator in the centre, is supported by eight pillars and is the only extant example of this style of architecture on Cyprus. The Byzantine church at St. Hilarion was built to the same architectural specifications, though that is now a roofless ruin.

The western porch, with its elegant arcade, was added in the 15th C, and both are excellent examples of Gothic design.

Dating from the late 12th C are the frescoes in the south-west sector, and there are some fine pieces of portraiture. There is the Virgin Mary, the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, and many saints.

Opening times of this church are erratic. However a visit to this beautiful area will not disappoint even if access to the church is not possible. The area is scenic at any time of the year but a visit in spring when all the almond trees are in bloom makes it especially wonderful.

Lavinia Neville Smith
Lavinia Neville Smith
Lavinia Neville Smith first came to North Cyprus in 1995, and fell in love with the country and the Turkish Cypriot people. A self confessed dilettante, with a varied working career, it was not until she returned in 1997 and went into tourism that she was able to put to good use her knowledge of history, ancient and modern, acquired long ago at school. She is a co-author of the Landmark Visitors Guide to North Cyprus, and continues to promote this beautiful country as far afield as possible.