Puslapio vaizdai
[graphic][subsumed][merged small]

them. They divide the present, that is; past survives in Nicosia, with its various but as for the monumental past—of that elements in near neighborhood or althe lion's share belongs to the influences most confused. Elsewhere we shall find that have vanished—to the religion and these elements separate, and shall be the chivalry of the West, and the superb able to see them with more distinctness cupidity of its two princely republics. and detail. I have already alluded to

We have seen something of how this the ancient castle of the island. Let us

[graphic][merged small]
[graphic][merged small]

take our stand on the northern ram- is an irregular pile of buildings, with its parts of Nicosia, and look across the walls clinging to the ledges of the sheer plain at the range of mountains oppo- northern precipice. It is pierced with site us.

Here and there the eye will be windows and loopholes, and is plainly at once arrested by some solitary peak, of considerable extent. Towards this rising higher and more rugged than its instinctively one at once makes one's neighbors; and on the highest of these way: but it is a steep scramble to reach we shall detect, if the day is clear, an it, and one is also continually arrested odd white line that falters across the by remains which at first were hidden ways. This line is the outer rampart of by heather bushes and by a chaos of Buffavento-a castle perched in mid air boulders. Close to the entrance one like a bird's nest, guarded by precipices sees in the springing turf two black except at a single point, and accessible openings, perhaps two feet in diameter; only by hours of arduous climbing. and on peering into these one finds he East and west of it on two other peaks is on the roof of a series of vaulted waare two other castles, whose situation is ter tanks, of which one at least is pernearly as extraordinary; and these three fect. The original red paint still tinges castles were renowned and ancient when its cemented sides. Its shape is a perthey surrendered, for they could not be fect hexagon; and its graceful groining taken, to Richard Cour de Lion. Buf- gives it the appearance of an oratory. favento, though the one most widely Inwardly other and larger openings visible, has been left with less of its show themselves, some of which lead structure. The one which will best re- into subterranean vaults, some into pay our attention is St. Hilarion, which chambers cut in the rock, partly conis the most perfect, the largest, and also structed out of masonry; and one of the most romantic in aspect.

these last, by the holes in the walls for Romantic indeed is the epithet which rings, is seen to have been originally the sight of it first suggests to one. It a long stable for camels. At length we looks less like a reality than a dream of reach a number of lofty walls—the reGustave Doré's. The isolated eminence mains of halls and passages, built against on which it stands, itself like a huge the perpendicular cliff: and picking our tower, projects northwards from the way along the passage that still exists, main chain of the mountains. From we reach the cluster of buildings a mothe ground connecting it with these, it ment ago alluded to. Here we find ourrises some hundreds of feet, and its selves in a labyrinth of vaulted chamnorthern face is a precipice of two thou- bers and vestibules—among them a sand. Far down at its foot lies a belt chapel, with fragments of fresco on the of fertile country; and then, after a mile walls, and a priest's room on either side or two, comes the blue sheet of the sea, of the chancel; also a loggia with large reaching away to the mountains of Asia circular arches, which the opposite mounMinor. On this eminence the castle is tains fill like a living picture. After built at various levels. It crowns the much climbing and descending of broksummit, it projects on to rocky promon- en stairs, we emerge from these buildings tories ; and its courts and guard rooms on the farther side of the grotto, and descend over the side which is less pre- find ourselves standing on a small grassy cipitous. Low down on this side we en- platform, with air below and with towter. We pass under an arch and through ering crags above. This small platform a cluster of ruinous towers, and find was apparently once a garden : and on ourselves in an enclosure, strewn with every ledge of the dizzy rocks adjoining rocks and masonry, which seems to slope it are walls, windows, and even entire upward at an angle of 45°. Beetling chambers. Of these last there is a suite over us is a perpendicular crag, toward of six, still almost perfect, except for the which, on our left, a wall with a series wooden floor, which has fallen in, leavof turrets climbs up-in outline like a ing traces round the walls of the mosaic section of a flight of stairs. To the that originally covered it. Standing on right, half way between the entrance the roof of these, which is flat and overand the summit, on a shoulder of rock grown with grass, and looking up at the

VOL. IV.-28

heights above, one almost feels that they Such is a Cyprian castle, of the idealare pushing him from his narrow rest- ly mediæval type. Let us now look at ing place. Nowhere can be seen any another, in which the Western model means of scaling them, except a shelving has been completely changed by the track, which seems hardly practicable climate and the conditions of the East. for goats. Up this track, however, with Aga Napa, as this building is now called, hands and knees, and frequent clutch- is at present used as a farm, and for ing at twigs and projecting rocks, it is some centuries it was a monastery ; but found possible to scramble; and arrived it was originally the country house of one at the top, a fresh surprise awaits us, of the Frankish nobles, whose coat of for there we pass through an archway arms remains untouched over the eninto a large quadrangle, with a wall of trance. Though the upper rooms exrocks on two sides, and on the two oth- cept two have disappeared, most of the ers buildings—the buildings facing us lower part is in very good preservation, being the ruins of a marble hall, seventy and as it may be considered a typical feet in length, with other chambers over specimen of its kind, it throws considerit. The two ends of the hall still have able light on the life and civilization the roof intact; and a flight of external that produced it. It stands about a steps with characteristic mouldings

leads mile from the sea, in a wide, open counto the level of the floor above. There try, and on one side of it is a cluster of the ruin is complete : but deep mullioned magnificent trees, which are probably windows here and there fret the sky with the remains of a wood that surrounded their tracery; and the stone seats in it. In plan it somewhat resembles the them are as perfect as in the days of the houses of Nicosia. It is built round a forgotten queens who once looked from quadrangle; and, except where the upthem down at the world below. We per walls remain, externally the windows have not, however, arrived at the top are small-some of them mere loopholes. yet. Seated in one of these windows, Above they were larger, as one that is we can see through a doorway near it left shows; and this is enriched by pethe daylight glimmering on the remains culiar mouldings and pilasters. Of the of ascending steps ; and looking up we quadrangle one side is occupied by a realize that still there are heights above chapel, and one by stables. The two us, to which the steps lead, and that others are surrounded by deep cloisters, these are covered with yet loftier walls with high pointed arches of the kind aland watch-towers. The spectacle, as I ready alluded to; and one of them faces saw it, was one to remain long in the a series of vaulted rooms. In the midmemory. Looking from the sill of one dle is a marble fountain, ornamented of these aërial windows, far below me, with carved festoons of flowers, which is like a submerged world, lay fields and approached by steps and covered by a olive gardens and glimmering villages slim cupola. and, jutting into the sea, the white town It is a significant fact, however, that of Korynia. Human voices and the though the domestic architecture of the tinkling of sheep bells rose up from the West was thus transformed by the condepths with a startling clearness, and ditions of life in Cyprus, the religious far off, like a line of gigantic clouds, be- architecture suffered but little change, yond the sea were the mountains of Asia except such as came from a larger and Minor. And around me were the fan- more liquid sunshine, and from the tastic remains of strength, luxury, and crisper shadows that emphasized its exdominance, which carried the imagina- otic arches. We must add also the tion back into the dimmest recesses of change in scenery and surroundings, history, till it peopled the courts and which, not a part of the architecture ithalls and towers with the silk-robed self, yet curiously influences the effect forms of women, the flashing of knightly produced by it on the observer. The armor, and a coming and going of dusky finest example of this is the Abbey of slaves and camels. Close at my feet lay Bella Pais—of Happy, or Lovely, Peace. the bleached bones of a kid, and overhead This, like St. Hilarion, is situated on a vulture was wheeling in slow circles. the northern range, facing the coast of

Asia Minor; hid, instead of being perched it presents a curious contrast to what aloft on a rugged pinnacle, it lies on the we have just been considering. It stands lower slopes, where the banks are fledged in a fertile part of the great central with vegetation, where the mule-paths plain, with a grove of trees close to it wander under the shade of branching and a wooded village in its neighborolives or dark-leaved carob trees or hood. In appearance externally it is slanting pine woods, and the deep gul- certainly picturesque, but suggests to lies are almost hidden with leaves. One our minds a farm rather than a monsees as one travels toward it, on either astery. The church alone has any arside of one, terraced vineyards, or fer- chitectural pretension, and this is bold tile patches of plough land, or under and forbidding in its antique simplicthe olives emerald grass flickering. The ity: while there is little but mud abbey itself stands on the brink of a and whitewash. Now the life of the steep rock, and overlooks a hollow fill- place is oddly in keeping with its ased with acacias and oleanders, among pect. Brown monks with long danwhich, sharply distinguishable, are pop- gling hair, and faces kindly but altogethlars and groups of date palms. Behind er illiterate, hang about in desultory it & village rises, unusually clear and groups, ready to flock round a stranger near, the white houses shining among with a curiosity that would be annoya crowd of slender cypresses ; cottage ing if it were not so childlike. Mixed gardens, with vines and wells, creep up with these, too, in the most fraternal to its walls ; and high overhead silvery and sisterly way, are wrinkled old crags look down on it, whose sides are crones and farm laborers, all apparently dotted with dark trees and shrubs, like a part of the establishment; one of multitudes of green sheep. The main which last will perhaps put a new life body of it was built round a cloistered into the scene by suddenly leading quadrangle, and was arranged on pillars. from the stable a troup of unsuspected On one side was the abbot's lodging; camels. The impression of a farm grows opposite to that was the kitchen, the on one; the whole scene is redolent of chapter house, and above, the monks' the furrows. But we have not underdormitories; and the two other sides stood its full character until we enter were respectively entirely occupied by the church. Then the religious element the church and by the refectory. The for the first time steals into the mind, abbot's lodging has wholly disappeared ; in a scent of stale incense; and one of but the church and the refectory are as the monks who is sure to enter with us perfect as on the day when they were will softly accompany us to the screen built, though a row of upper chambers at the east end. This, as in most Greek has since filled each. But perhaps the churches, is a mass of florid gilding, most striking and fascinating feature of panelled with grotesque and gaudy pictthe church is the cloisters. They remind ures of saints. One panel amongst one of those of Magdalen College, Ox- the rest will instantly catch the eye, ford, except that through their tracery which not only seems to be in itself peone looks at such a different scene—at culiar, but is also signalized by tapers oranges, lemons, cypresses, and the sil- burning before it. On nearer inspection very summits of the mountains, and the we shall see that this is not a picture at sky, the like of which has never been seen all but a relief in beaten gold of the Main England. The Abbey of Happy Peace donna and Child, studded with jewels -it is indeed named appropriately. and almost half concealed by a curtain This magnificent pile was built during of antique tapestry. We have here one the thirteenth century: and its present of the most sacred relics of the East, condition is due to the barbarity of the an object of pilgrimage to the Orthodox Turks churing the period of their con- from every quarter. For behind the quest.

gold-too precious to be exposed itself From this picture let us turn to what is the picture of the Virgin Mother may be called its counterpart--a monas- painted by St. Luke the Evangelist, and tery of the Greeks. A good specimen brought to Cyprus from Byzantium 900 is to be found not far from Nicosia; and years ago. As to its authenticity we

« AnkstesnisTęsti »