Guzelyurt, which means `beautiful country' in Turkish, is aptly named. Guzelyurt is a market town located in the west of North Cyprus. One of its attractive features is that it is the home of one of the many churches in the country dedicated to St. Mamas.
The city of Guzelyurt is regional capital of the Guzelyurt district and is known as the fruit-bowl of Northern Cyprus. It is one of the richest agricultural areas in Cyprus, famous particularly for the Citrus (Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit) and strawberries from the area which thrive in its fertile red soil. Tradition has it that in the 12th century Mamas, a poor Cypriot hermit, refused to pay his taxes , and troops were sent to bring him to the capital for punishment. On the way, the party came across a lion about to kill a lamb.
Mamas saved the lamb and taking it in his arms, rode the wild lion and entered the capital in this way. The Byzantine authorities were so impressed with what they saw, they released the hermit from his obligations and since then St. Mamas has been regarded as the protector of tax avoiders. All round the island there are 14 churches dedicated to St. Mamas.
The Monastery of St. Mamas situated in Guzelyurt was built in the 18th century. Its side portals and the columns of the nave are the earlier Gothic church were built in the Lusignan period, and was built upon Byzantine ruins. Its believed to be sided upon the tumb of St. Mamas. The upper part of the iconostasis, carved of wood and painted in blue and gold, is an exquisite example of late 16th century wood carving. Its lower part is carved of marble and features figs, grapes and acorns, and Venetian shields which once bore painted coats of arms.
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