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The Origins of the Monasteries of Pafos
Pafos is home to several Christian monasteries founded during the Middle Ages. The two largest, Agios Neofytos and Panagia Chrysorrogiatissa, were formed in the twelfth century. Then, the Byzantine Empire and its capital, Constantinople, were beset with attacks by Seljuk Turks from the east and Latin crusaders from the west; many Byzantines sought communal safety in Cyprus. A growing interest in asceticism also led some believers to set up hermitages. A Christian named Neofytos, for example, carved a set of three connected cells into a cliffside above Pafos. This complex, called the Enkleistra, has domed ceilings with frescoes depicting the final days of Christ and furnishings carved into the stone. After eleven years in seclusion, Neofytos opened his retreat to students and established a cloister that would grow over the centuries into the monastery and museum we can visit today—it is just nine kilometres from the town centre. A bit further afield, the Panagia Chrysorrogiatissa Monastery is situated in the hills about 40 kilometres away. It was founded by Ignatius, a monk who discovered an icon of the Virgin Mary while walking along the Pafos coast. When he removed the icon from the sea, he had a vision of the Virgin Mary, who asked him to build a monastery—which he established in 1152. The complex fittingly includes an important collection of icons along with a winery. You can visit it on 20 April with sister hotel Annabelle’s Monastery and Winery Tour; contact Guest Services for details and reservations.
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