What I Saw

14 Apr 2023

Seigneur de Villamont, Knight of the Order of Jerusalem, visited Cyprus in 1598:

Seigneur de Villamont, Knight of the Order of Jerusalem, visited Cyprus in 1598:

On Ascension Day, Thursday, May 11, 1589, at about midday we arrived at the first point of the kingdom of Cyprus, which seamen call Cape S. Piphany, and coasting along came near to Baffo. This city is situated in a fair plain, close to the sea, and much set off to landwards by low hills. But it is half-ruined so that it profits little by the beauty of its site and the fruitfulness of the soil. There are found here a great quantity of very beautiful stones called Bafo diamonds: some of them indeed are beautiful enough to deceive many a lapidary. The peasants put them aside and sell them very cheaply.

The city of Baffo was anciently called Paphos, witness Holy Writ, where mention is made of the bonds with which S. Paul was bound before he went up to Jerusalem. In this city, the goddess Venus held of old her court, for she was queen of the island of Cyprus, whence she is called Cypris, and the first temple dedicated to her was in this city, where men and women offered sacrifice to her naked; but at the prayer of S. Barnabas the Apostle, a native of Cyprus, the idol of Venus and her temple fell shattered to the ground. A mile from Baffo we were shown the place where are the grottos in which the sleepers slept three hundred and more years without awaking, and many other fine things. But see, all is nearly uninhabited now on account of the unhealthy climate: so great are the changes and vicissitudes of things! Anciently the place was the most delightful on the island, and the favourite abode of its kings.

Coasting along, we passed Cape Bianco, so called for its white colour, and Cape Lagatte, which stretches far into the sea from a fair and fertile plain. This cape takes its name from the cats in the abbey of S. Nicolas, of which I shall speak presently. And because the night was upon us the master would not push on to Limisso, so we dropped our anchors and waited for the day. In the morning he sent the gig to Limisso to ask leave of the Cadi to land. Another party of sailors manned the cutter to go and cut wood. Both duties were performed, and the boats returned about the same time, bringing fresh provisions, and, to our great delight, roses and flowers of different colours, -with boughs of olive, orange and capers.

The 'What I saw...' series is made possible with the support of OPAP (Cyprus) and the Active Citizens Fund.

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