Sunday, May 11, 2014

Agios Neofytos Monastery

The Agios Neofytos Monastery (also known as the Ayios Neophytos Monastery) is located about 2 km from Tala Village and about 10 km north of the city of Paphos, which is within the Paphos district of Cyprus.

This monastery includes the Encleistra of Agios Neofytos, the modern monastery of Ayios Neofytos, and the Agios Neofytos Ecclesiastical Museum.
 




The Agios Neofytos Monastery is named after Saint Neofytos, who was born in the Larnaca district of Cyprus in 1134 AD.

According to tradition, Neofytos ran away before his wedding day and sought refuge in the Agios Krysotomos Monastery.  However, he was soon discovered and taken back home, yet Neofytos convinced his parents that he should live a monastic life instead of marriage.

After moving to the Paphos district, Neofytos carved his home out of a mountain rock in 1159 AD, and then he continued to live in these caves.  Soon, some monks discovered Neofytos and his cave home.  In 1170, he was ordained by the Bishop of Paphos, Vasilios Kinnamos.

Due to his cave lifestyle and ordainment, many monks gathered around him to form a monastic community.  This led Neofytos to write the Tipiki Diathiki (also known as the Typical Testament) in 1214, and it includes a set of rules relating to the monastery.
 
 




Since Neofytos attracted many followers, this disrupted his desire for solitude.  So, he excavated two more caves even higher up the hill, and these caves were another home for himself and a small chapel dedicated to Agios Ioannis Prodromos.  After building himself a new cave home, Neofytos only left his cave on Sundays to preach to the followers, until he died in 1219 at the age of 85.

During his time, Neofytos was considered to be the leading critic of the Byzantine tax collectors, as well as a writer of scholarly books and theological tracts.  Today, he is known for his caves and the religious frescoes that he painted.  Due to the caves, the Agios Neofytos Monastery is sometimes known as the cave monastery.
 



The Encleistra of Agios Neofytos (also known as the Enkleistra of Ayios Neophytos and the Place of Seclusion) includes the natural caves that Agios Neophytos finished carving out of the hillside to create small rooms.

Most of the previous monastery doesn't exist today.  However, some of the cave rooms, which were simply cut out from the rock in the hillside, survived.  These cave rooms include Neofytos' first cave home, the Timios Stavros Chapel (also known as the Holy Cross Chapel), the Agios Ioannis Prodromos Chapel (also known as the Saint John the Baptist Chapel), and Neofytos' second cave home.

Within the cave rooms, there are frescoes (wall paintings) from the Byzantine era that Neofytos and some of the followers painted, and these were restored in 1992.  These caves are located about 100 meters from the more modern monastery.







The current Agios Neofytos Monastery was built in the 15th century, and it includes a collections of buildings with a Greek Orthodox church in the center. 

This church was built about 200 years after Neofytos' death, and it's a basilica with a dome that has a Venetian architectural influence.
 




Within the monastery, there's the Agios Neofytos Ecclesiastical Museum, which displays various ecclesiastical and archaeological items.

Since the Agios Neofytos Monastery is a popular tourist destination, there's a cafe and tourist shop conveniently located next to the monastery.  
  


 

The Agios Neofytos Monastery is a worthwhile place to visit for locals and tourists, especially since located quite close to the city of Paphos.


Site: Agios Neofytos Monastery, Encleistra of Agios Neofytos, and Agios Neofytos Ecclesiastical Museum. 

Category: Monastery and Museum. 

Location: About 2 km from Tala Village and about 10 km north of the city of Paphos, within the Paphos district of Cyprus. 

Phone Number: 26652481. 

Operating Hours: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Monday to Sunday, during summer months.   9:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Monday to Sunday, during winter months. 

Entrance Fee: €1,00 for the caves and museum.

Date of Visit: 2011.

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