In the Middle Ages, Pafos was a much quieter place than it is now—so much so that a Christian named Neofytos could live in peace and solitude in a hermitage just nine kilometres northwest of what is now the town centre. You can visit the Agios Neofytos Monastery to see his original settlement along with the complex that bears his name. The oldest part of the monastery is the Enkleistra, the set of three connected cells he dug into the limestone cliffside in the 12th century. Neofytos carved domed spaces as well as their furnishings—you can see benches, bookshelves, a desk, and his sarcophagus. The walls and ceilings display scenes from the final days of Christ, such as the Last Supper and the Ascension, that represent some of the finest examples of wall painting from the Byzantine era. Neofytos was a prolific author of theological texts; the surviving Greek manuscripts are housed in the library at the monastery. Though Neofytos spent his first eleven years here in seclusion, he was encouraged to take on students and established a cloister at the site. Over the centuries, the complex has seen a series of constructions and renovations. The main church includes notable post-Byzantine icons from the 16th century. Next to it is a museum displaying manuscripts, icons, ecclesiastical garments, and other artefacts. An active monastery, the complex includes a peaceful garden on a wooded perch overlooking the Pafos coast. It remains a suitable place for contemplation.
It is a staple of the local wine list—Commandaria, an appellation unique to Cyprus. But what exactly is it? The legendary dessert wine has been produced for centuries in the foothills of the Troodos mountains. Here vineyards are planted with two indigenous grape varieties—the white xynisteri and the red mavro. The altitude (500 to 900 metres), climate (hot, dry, and sunny), and soil (limestone and volcanic sand with high levels of calcium carbonate) yield the distinctive flavour and aroma associated with Commandaria. During the September harvest season, growers allow the grapes to over-ripen on the vine to increase their sugar content. After they have been picked, the grapes are dried in full sunlight for five to 20 days. Then the grapes are pressed, and their juice is left to ferment for two or three months before being stored in immense oaken casks for a minimum of two years. The wine is often fortified before bottling. Usually served cold, the wine has a cloudy honey colour (it darkens with age), a complex nose (think caramel, raisins, and coffee), and a sweet taste (with hints of dried dates and figs). It can stand alone as an after-dinner drink or be complemented with dried fruits or blue cheeses. The wine’s name derives from the Middle Ages, when the Order of the Knights of St. John centred their “Grand Commanderie” in the nearby castle in Kolossi—though the wine was undoubtedly made in like manner long before then. Many consider Commandaria the oldest named wine in the world.
Aqua Tone is a low-impact, gentle exercise programme especially conducive to those with mobility issues, joint strain, osteoporosis, stability concerns, or balance problems. The pool’s water gives you buoyancy and creates resistance so that you can extend your limbs without fear of falling. At Annabelle, the instructor begins each 60-minute session with stretching exercises to develop your flexibility. Then the instructor introduces more vigorous exercises to raise the heart rate and burn calories. Techniques include squatting and jumping, kicking while holding the pool’s wall, power-walking, and jogging. You may also receive instructions on how to use our polystyrene water dumbbells and foam noodles to perform balance and resistance exercises. Each session concludes with more stretching. You’ll emerge with increased flexibility, improved balance, and the benefits of a good cardio workout. Now that Annabelle has an indoor pool, guests can enjoy this exercise programme throughout the year. The pool is part of the hotel’s new Ouranos Wellbeing Spa, located on the fifth floor of the hotel, and is heated to an average of 29° C. Afterwards, cool down poolside in a lounger—or warm up with a relaxing sojourn in the spa’s sauna. Classes are offered two or three times per week and are complimentary during the winter season.
Check with Guest Services for the weekly schedule.
During the festive season, celebrants throughout Europe enjoy a common tradition: a glass of hot, spiced wine. The tradition has deep historical roots, as the winter appreciation of warmed wine followed the expansion of the Roman empire into northern Europe. The spice trade of the Middle Ages brought the exotic flavourings of ginger, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon into the market. Expensive delicacies, these spices were adapted for winter celebrations, proved perfect complements to warmed wine, and continue to provide the culinary vocabulary for the holidays. Regional variations have developed over the years—notably in England, Scandinavia, Central Europe, and the Balkans. At Annabelle, our Christmas Wine takes on a distinctly Cypriot flair. We use Plakota dry red wine, a blend of red grape varieties (including some indigenous to Cyprus) produced locally by Vouni Panayia winery. To this we add calvados cider brandy and Filfar, an orange liqueur made only in Cyprus. Cinnamon, the aromatic bark indigenous to India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, adds Christmas spice to the concoction in both powder and syrup form. The glass is garnished with apple extract, a slice of orange, and a cinnamon stick. You can enjoy Annabelle’s Christmas Wine at our Christmas Market, which takes place in our Atrium on 21, 26, and 30 December from 15:30 to 17:30. Nibble on homemade Christmas cookies, gingerbread, and chocolates as you view the wares of local merchants, including pottery and Christmas cards.
The word ‘brunch’ comes from the combination of parts of two other words—‘br’ from ‘breakfast’ and ‘unch’ from ‘lunch’. The term is known as a portmanteau word because it carries (as in a suitcase) the meanings of both ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’ in one word (the concept of the ‘portmanteau word’ is the brainchild of Lewis Carroll, author of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, but that is another story). ‘Brunch’ was first used in 1895 by British writer Guy Beringer, who made a plea for an alternative to the heavy, meat-laden after-church meals then popular on Sundays. The concept developed as a meal served in the late morning to early afternoon, combining elements of traditional breakfast and lunch fare, and usually including an alcoholic beverage (Beringer was sympathetic to those who had slept late after a Saturday night carousing). Brunch gained popularity in Edwardian England before spreading to the U.S. in the 1930s; now it is enjoyed worldwide. At Ouranos, Annabelle’s new-build rooftop lounge, we offer classic Sunday brunch items (egg preparations, salads, sides, and sweets) with a culinary twist: try our beetroot fried eggs with sesame crust, green vegetables, and pickles, for instance. Order individually or in the Mediterranean sharing style. And now, for the festive season, Ouranos offers a Christmas Day Brunch and a New Year’s Day Brunch. Each is a four-course, fixed price meal with fresh orange juice, infused water, and your choice of coffee or tea (and full bar service is available, of course). Join us!
It is a common sight during the festive season: a miniature structure, usually a house, made of gingerbread. How is it made? At Annabelle, baker Doros Nearchou literally took the technique to new heights this season, leading his team in constructing a gingerbread clock tower for the hotel’s central stair hall (in previous years, he has built a boat and a train). Carpenters formed the structure of the tower by constructing five tiered platforms from recycled wood. Engineers then formed opaque window panels, wired the interior for lighting, and installed a motor for the rotating top. Meanwhile in the kitchen, bakers prepared gingerbread biscuits, using moulds to make the interlocking brick shapes for the tower’s base. Decorating with gingerbread is like creating an edible mosaic. First, coat the entire surface with icing sugar; this will maintain a separation between the edible and inedible parts. Next, use icing sugar as a kind of mortar, applying it to the back of each piece before fixing it on the base. Icing sugar can also be used to form decorative elements, such as icicles. Seeds and spices, such as saffron, sesame, black cumin, and oats, can be applied to give colour and texture. Annabelle’s clock tower is unique and features a clock for each of the world’s continents, prompting us to think about people all around the world during the holidays. The build involved team members from throughout the hotel along with seven student bakers and encompassed 600 hours of work. After Christmas, children are invited to remove a piece of gingerbread and enjoy a tasty treat!