The beautiful monastery of Agios (Saint) Neophytos can be found some 9km north of Paphosin the community of Tala. This monastery is one of the most known in Cyprus and dates back to 1170AD. The monk Neophytos was the founder and it started off as a place for him to flee after being jailed for pursuing the life of devotion to God.
A cave is what the monastery was back then, until Neophytos excavated parts of it into a small chapel, a tomb and a hermitage cell for himself. The cave was known as the ‘Enkleistra’ and is on a steep slope. The word Enkleistra means enclosed, in this case a person who is enclosed or withdrawn. The Enkleistra is some 150 meters from where the monastery is.
Beautiful frescoes adorn the Enkleistra and remain of phenomenal quality. Here you will also find the grave of Saint Neophytos. The legend says that the grave’s size adjusts so that it’s the perfect size for whoever lies in it.
Neophytos was born in 1134 in the village of Lefkara. When he was just a young man, he left his parents’ house to dedicate himself to God. He went to Saint Chrysostom Monastery where he studied the word of God and he became an assistant sacristan. Later he travelled to Jerusalem where he searched for a mentor. This quest did not go as planned and Neophytos had to come back to Cyprus.
Upon his return to Cyprus, he started off being alone in this cave but soon after he gained a large following of others just like him. In 1170 the Bishop of Paphos convinced Neophytos to take on a pupil.
You will also find a museum at Agios Neophytos monastery which has a small entrance fee of €2. The opening times vary during winter and summer season and is closed on major holidays. The museum houses 2 different collections. The first collections are of pottery from 900BC to 600BC.The second collection is valuable relics and ecclesiastical art. These are from the 12th century AD to 19th century AD.
A small shop is found at the entrance of the Monastery where you can purchase souvenirs and memorabilia of icons and other religious items. There are more shops in the car park area where you can also buy Cypriot products made with Carob, grape juice like Soutzoukos. Some products are Carob syrup, Carob sweets and Olive oil. You can also get a cup of coffee and sit in the natural and peaceful area to rest and enjoy nature.
Saint Neophytos celebrates twice a year, on the 24th of January and the 28th of September. The parking is free, the monastery is accessible for wheelchairs but the museum and Enkleistra are not. There are bathrooms near the entrance which are also accessible to wheelchair users.
This unique, white-stoned facade of Agios Neophytos Monastery stands tall on the steep slope showcasing a beautiful contrast with the surrounding hillside. Peaceful and secluded is what you are greeted with once there. A sense of serene and calmness comes over you that all you want to do it relax and enjoy your surroundings. A memorizing place for all to visit!