Ayios Panteleimon Monastery and Bronze Age Sanctuary of Pigadhes
The short detour through Camlibel gives you a chance to see the monastery of Ayios Panteleimon briefly from the outside, and then soon after, the charming little Bronze Age sanctuary of Pighades, in Cretan-Minoan style, attractively set by itself in the midst of fields. Ayios Panteleimon cannot be visited as it lies within a military headquarters. The road passes very close by it, so you must content yourself with having a good peer from the car. Pighades is only 2km outside Camlibel, so the total detour including the visit need take only about 40 minutes. There is no site guardian so you can visit any time. It goes without saying that there are no refreshment facilities. Arriving at Camlibel from Guzelyurt, you reach the T-junction with its army post, but fork rights towards Lefkosa rather than left towards Girne. This road takes you almost immediately past the Ayios Panteleimon Monastery on the right, now within the boundaries of the military camp that seems to encompass most of Camlibel. Ayios Panteleimon was the patron saint of doctors. In his pagan youth he had studied medicine at Constantinople, but after his conversion to Christianity he cured the deaf, the blind and the lame by prayer alone. Following his martyrdom, his healing powers were said to have transferred themselves to his silver gilt icon at the monastery. The church was heavily restored in the 1920s, when the monastery was the residence of the Bishop of Kyrenia, and very little of any age or interest remained beyond a few icons of the saint dated 1770. The church was closed in the 1950s and is badly run-down. This short detour to the small Bronze Age sanctuary is recommended for all but the most hurried. It lies scarcely 2km along the same road that passes Ayios Panteleimon on the way to Lefkosa. It is signposted, the sign pointing along a 200m track by a row of cypress trees before reaching a cluster of cypress trees set in the middle of fields. Amongst these trees lies the Temple of Pigadhes (1600-1050BC), with its centrepiece of a small step pyramid-shaped altar, some 3km high, built from large stone blocks. It is topped with two stones in the shape of a bullís horns, strongly reminiscent of the Cretan-Minoan horns of consecration with which it is contemporary. The excavated area has revealed a double courtyard with cisterns, all surprisingly well-constructed for this early date. The road that continues southeast towards Lefkosa across the plain is heavily militarised, each village along the way having been largely transformed into a military camp. At Yilmazkoy (Greek Skylloura) a small road forks to the right through the village towards Gurpinar. Pre-partition maps will show the Prophitis Elias Monastery here on the hillside behind the village, but the area is now a military camp, and the road terminates at the barrier, leaving the monastery tantalisingly in view beyond. Forking left at Yilmazkoy, a road leads off towards Sirinevler, and beyond to the heavily ruined village of Akcicek with its vandalised church. After Akcicek, a rough dirt track leads over the mountain range passing through an area of blasting and quarrying, and bringing you eventually, bruised and battered, to Lapta from the rear.