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Panayia Absinthiotissa Monastery,

Near Taskent, North Cyprus

Panayia Absinthiotissa monastery, Taskent, North Cyprus
Panayia Absinthiotissa Monastery

The monastery of Panayia Absinthiotissa enjoys a spectacular setting, half way up the north flank of the Besparmak Mountain range, enjoying views over the Meserya Plain towards Nicosia and Famagusta. Today it is little visited, partially because it appears on virtually none of the tourist maps.

The monastery dates back to late Byzantine times, and was taken over by Latin monks in the 15th century. It was extensively restored in the 1960s, only to suffer severe vandalisation since 1974, and any frescoes have been defaced or stolen.

Despite its condition, the monastery still merits a visit, perhaps en route to or from Buffavento Castle.

Panayia Absinthiotissa Church
Panayia Absinthiotissa Church

The enormous twelve-windowed drum and dome of the church are visible from some distance if you approach from the south. On your arrival you'll notice the peculiar narthex which the Latin monks added, with apses each end. Inside there's marvellous Gothic vaulting.

North across the courtyard is the refectory with shallow ceiling vaulting and unusual lancet windows.

To get there from Buffavento Castle, continue down the slope from the car park, taking a sharp right along the surfaced road. (The unmade road leads to a military area). The drive will probably take about 15 minutes. There is a walking trail, but you should only take this if you are properly equipped and are well prepared for the uphill climb back to your car. From Famagusta or Nicosia, head for the village of Taskent. (Follow the signs for Buffavento Castle which will take you through Taskent). In the centre of the village, by the store, turn towards the mountains. If you keep the giant Turkish Cypriot flag on your left, you will be on the right road. Shortly after taking this road, you will see the monastery in the distance.

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