Founded in 1159 by Cypriot saint and writer Neophytos, the Agios Neophytos Monastery is among Cyprus’s most striking religious buildings, carved into a mountain rock just north of Paphos. Though a small number of monks live here, the main attraction for visitors is the museum, full of religious manuscripts, garments, and other artifacts.
Built at 1,693 feet (516 meters) above sea level, the monastery offers spectacular views over Paphos and is home to a striking array of Byzantine icons and well-preserved 16th-century frescoes. Most fascinating are the rock-hewn grottos found above the monastic buildings, including the Engleistra, where the hermit Neophytos allegedly lived for over 45 years. The caves are renowned for their remarkable frescoes, which date from the 12th to the 15th century. Some multi-day island tours stop here, and day tours from Paphos are available.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Agios Neophytos Monastery is a must-visit for anyone with an interest in art or religion.
- This monastery is among the most accessible from Paphos.
- A nominal entry fee is collected from visitors.
- Downloadable audio guides to the monastery are available on the Cyprus Department of Tourism website.
How to Get There
Agios Neophytos Monastery is located in the inland hills of western Cyprus, about a 20-minute drive north from the center of Paphos. Public transportation options are next to none, so travelers wishing to visit will need to join an organized tour, hire a taxi, or drive up the narrow winding roads that lead to the monastery themselves.
When to Get There
The monastery and its caves and museum are open every day throughout the year, except Christmas, New Year's Day, the first day of Orthodox Lent, Orthodox Easter Sunday, and Assumption Day (August 15). It’s open from 9am–1pm and 2pm–6pm April through October and from 9am–4pm November through March.
One of the most important Cypriot monks, Neophytos is celebrated for having kept scrupulous notes on the Crusades. Although the saint was alleged to have never attended school, he was able to write beautifully and composed thousands of pages. During his life, he worked in a church and went on a journey to the Holy Land before returning to Cyprus and living out his life as a hermit.