Cyprus is famous not only for its sunny days, fresh sea air and attractions for every taste but also for the mountains. After spending a week at the beach and basking in the sun we decided to go to the Troodos mountains. We’ve rented a car by NissanMarch the evening before and planned the route that would lead us along the curvy B8 route from Limassol to Troodos.
The trip was started next morning. Magnificent views were waiting for us at every turn and each time it was new and unique breathtaking picture. It was impossible not to stop to take a photo!
Luxurious hotels, villas furnished with designer furniture and expensive restaurants — all the things that are not easy to surprise with were left behind. The final destination of our journey was an extraordinary hotel that was abandoned by its owners and guests many years ago — Berengaria hotel (located 34° 57' 00.6"N 32° 49' 48.1"E, the travel time about 1 hour and 20 minutes).
When the navigation app said that we would be reaching our goal after about 500 meters, we left our car on the parking to look around. Colourful signboards of cafes, restaurants and shops everywhere invited the tourists to buy things common for such places: pieces of clothing like hats, t-shirts and gloves as well as snacks. There were also local specialties among them — warm delicious nuts with different tastes. We’ve bought those with pomegranate and caramel. Even now I remember their amazing taste. After that short shopping tour we headed straight to the hotel. Climbing up about 150 meters long steep path we’ve finally faced with it.
A massive three-storey hotel, not without its elegance though, rose on the top of the mountain. Everything in it reminded us a castle: thick walls made of stones, balconies, high narrow windows and parts of the moldings that remained after 100 years this hotel has stood. The doors were open and we walked in. It’s cold, sad and dim gray inside this once gorgeous-looking building: peeling walls with the net of cracks everywhere, broken windows, frayed wires. Nowadays the hotel is completely looted. We were curious to walk around the abandoned Berengaria however there was the constant feeling like somebody was watching us. A bit scary, I should admit. We were going out into the backyard of the hotel when we saw an old man sitting near the pool and peering into the muddy water.
We went closer and spoke to him. He turned out to be an easygoing and interesting person who told us the sad story of the Berengaria hotel.
The hotel was designed by the British architect Walter Henry Clark in the 1920s. The owner of Berengaria was the rich widower Ioannis Kokkalos from the Prodromos village. He dreamed about building of the great world famous hotel since the time he was a child. The hotel became its name in honour to the Queen of England, the wife of the King Richard the Lionheart —Berengaria of Navarre.
Berengaria hotel opened its doors in 1931 and was immediately popular due to the high quality of the offered services. All the rooms of the hotel were provided with hot and cold water, there were also a telephone and a telegraph in the building. A restaurant, a disco club and a tennis court were open for the guests anytime.
These kinds of services were few in numbers at that time. Not every person could afford to stay in such luxury which made Berengaria hotel outstanding place for the high-level audience. They said that among its visitors were Farouk, the King of Egypt, Winston Churchill and President of Israel Chaim Weizmann.
The owner have had three sons. All of them were in love with the beautiful but poor girl who lived in the village nearby. The father has forbidden each of them to marry her because of her low origin. After his death the brothers have started their advances again but they were plotting and scheming against each other. One morning the girl was found dead not far from the hotel building. The cause of her death stayed unknown but her mother was sure that it was the Kokkalos brothers’ fault and decided to revenge for the daughter. She visited different witches asking to curse the brothers. Within half of the year the bad accidents started to happen and soon all three brothers were dead too. One of the brothers drowned in a shallow pool, the second went crazy and hung himself right in the hotel lobby. The cause of the third brother’s death is unknown. Looks like the curse has worked well. As the old man told us the hotel is haunted by the ghosts of the brothers. Sometimes the visitors could hear they arguing with each other. Many owners replaced one another since then but Berengaria hotel has lost his fame forever.
The hotel was officially closed in 1984. In 2012 a German building company signed a contract in order to renovate the building but as they say things haven’t budget an inch.
Our trip to hotel left a mixed feeling inside. We were fascinated by its mysterious atmosphere and stayed in awe before its magnificent attitude. From the other side it gave us goose bumps and raised tons of questions that no one can answer. No doubt that Berengaria hotel is one of the most interesting and mysterious places in Cyprus. And yes, if I would come to Cyprus one more time, I would want to go back to this place.