Tuesday, September 11, 2012

St. Neophytos Monastery, Cyprus

Ayios Neophytos Monastery is said to have been founded by a Cypriot hermit and writer called Neophytos in the year 1159. At 415 metres above sea level , St. Neophytos found caves which he enlarged by his own labour thus creating his own cell , the church of the Holy Cross as well as a sanctuary. Neophytos carved a home for himself out of the mountain rock and it is here that you will find some of the finest frescoes from the Byzantine period dating from the 12th to the 15th century. In about 1500 , the imposing main building of the monastery was constructed in the church.

Neophytos was known is his time as the leading critic of the Byzantine tax collectors and the great Richard the Lion Hearted. Today however, the same is not true.  Today Neophytos is known for the amazing series of grottoes that he carved out of the mountain rock and the religious frescoes that can be found within them.  Some of these frescoes were actually painted by Neophytos himself.

The Monastery is located below the grottoes and is home to only a handful of monks.  The Monastery also contains a collection of icons and the remains of some 16th century frescoes.  Every January the monastery hosts a two day fair where you can buy Cypriot crafts, foods, and monastic goods.  There is also live music too.

In the grounds of the monastery one can find there around 30 cats.  The site of Ayios Neophytos Monastery is 1694 feet high and the views over Paphos from here are amazing.

There is a monastery and a series of caves with frescoes.  Neophytos is said to have lived for 45 years in one of the caves.  His last five years were spent in a cave further up the rock face. 

Ayios Neophytos Monastery is the perfect location for those looking for peace and quiet and maybe some solitude and time to reflect on life.

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