"A hermit's cave" Paphos Things to Do Tip by TheWanderingCamel

Paphos Things to Do: 128 reviews and 294 photos

  This way toi Neophytos' cave
by TheWanderingCamel
 
  • This way toi Neophytos' cave - Paphos
      This way toi Neophytos' cave
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • Ayios Neophytos - Paphos
      Ayios Neophytos
    by TheWanderingCamel
  • A hermit's cave - Paphos
  • A hermit's cave - Paphos
  • A hermit's cave - Paphos
 

You only have to travel 9 kilometres north of Paphos to enter another world - one far removed from both the brash commerciality of the tourist town and the ruins of its Classical past. The Monastery of Agios Neophytos is a haven of calm tranquillity, a cloistered world where for centuries monks have lived out their lives in a routine of prayer and work that has barely changed since the monastery was founded in the last years of the 12th century. Beautifully maintained terraces and gardens surround a 15th century church, the burial place of the saint whose holy relics have mostly long since been dispersed, leaving just his skull behind, encased in a silver reliquary and the focus of pious veneration among the local people. There a small museum near the church with a collection of icons, manuscripts and maps, ecclesiastical garments and religious artifacts as well as a collection of ancient Cypriot pottery .

Poor Neophytos - all he wanted was a quiet, ascetic life and here, at the head of a remote roccky defile, he thought he'd found just the place to retire to way back in the middle of the 12th century. A little group of shallow inter-connecting caves halfway up the cliff facing the monastery was his choice for his hermitage but there was no way a scholar and holy man of his repute could keep himself isolated and wasn't long before a community of followers established themselves at the base of his cliff. An imposing stone facade fronts, and protects the saint's caves (known as the Enkleistra), a long staircase providing easier access that the ladders of old. It's all very imposing and in no way does it prepare you for the extraordinary impact of passing through the doorway and into the frescoed cell and chapel Neophytos carved out of the rock and made his home.

Photography is forbidden and , for one, am glad it is. This place is so extraordinary there is no way I would want the distraction of cameras (mine or anyone else's) to come between the visitor and these tiny rooms and their compelling images. A small entry chamber (the narthex) leads into the sacristry where wonderful paintings of scenes of the last days of Christ's life cover the walls and the ceiling. Another tiny passage leads into the saint's cell with its rock platform bed , desk, bench and the sarcophagus he carved for himself. Basic as the "comforts"of this cell are, one of the doors cut into the rock face above this first level leads into the even more ascetic dwelling Neophytos created for himself for the last 20 years of his life - this cave is not open to visitors.

Directions: Open : April - October: daily: 09:00 - 13:00, 14:00 to 18:00,
November - March: daily: 09:00 - 13:00, 14:00 - 16: 00
Entrance Fee: Euro 1 (for the Museum and Enkleistra)

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Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Apr 9, 2011
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