View of the monastery
In a lovely stretch of country side , about 9 km to the north of Paphos , lies a hermitage dating from the 12th. century . 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 . In about 1500 , the imposing main building of the monastery was constructed in the church of which nowadays the greater part of his venerable bones are kept to the left of the iconostasis . Other of his relics are to be found in the monasteries of Kykkos , Machairas , and in St. Mamas in Morphou . Neophytos is , without doubt , the most famous ascetic among Cyprus's saints . In the past , many miracles have been atributed to his grave which was opened in 1750 .
Neophytos was born in Kato Drys , a village near Lefkara , and died in around 1215 . He was the most productive ecclesiastical author at the turn of the 12th. to the 13th. century . A large number of original manuscripts of his writings , mainly theological literature for everyday use , are contained in parchment codices which found their way from the monastery to the National Library in Paris and elsewhere . Neophytos's works are , however , an inexhaustible source on the history of the island . This is confirmed by his notes on the conquest of Cyprus by Richard Coeur de Lion and on the end of the Byzantine usurper Isaac Komnenos as for the king of England . The autobiography of the monastery founder , who was already popular among his contemporaries , does not only provide revealing details on the events of the 12th. century , but also about how the community of monks gathered around him .
The hermitage and main church are part of the large group of Byzantine buildings in the neo - classical style from Constantinople . They were constructed at the productive climax of Byzantinism , thus at a time in which St. Neophytos played a great role . Through the grace of God , with whose help he accomplished his works , he appeared as a teacher of fear of the Lord in accordance with the words of the prophet David : 'Come ye children , and listen unto me : I will teach ye to fear the Lord . '
Already shortly after its completion , the hermitage , in Greek "enkleistra" , had become an influential monastic centre . In 1170 , Neophytos began to paint the interior of the cave . He is himself portayed several times in his hermitage . Theodore Apseudes completed the major part of the frescoes in 1183 . Apseudes is probably an epithet rather than a surname meaning that he was reliable and trustworthy . He was an excellent Byzantine painter and one of the first whom we know as a person . Very probably , Theodore was also involved in 1192 in two icons and the majority of frescoes in Lagoudera . According to the research results of D. Winfield he may have ended his life as a monk in the monastery Panagia tou Araka .
Back to the Monastery of St. Neophytos : the enkleistra is subdivided into two anachoreses which were described as upper and lower hermitage . For us , the lower part is of the main interest in which the naos , bema and the saint's cell are fully painted . Theodore executed the two latter ones in the classical court style of the end of the 12th. century , whereas the naos was decorated by an unknown painter using what is known as the 'monastery style' . One can gain an idea of the differences by means of the Anastasis . The part by Theodore dominates the area above the grave , the monastic variant executed scarcely 13 years later covers the eastern wall of the naos . Whereas Theodore uses gentle , curved lines allowing the garments to flutter extravagantly and giving his figures a mild facial expression , the figures by the unknown painter are drawn with austere and hard lines , in keeping with the humble monks and saints . The Anastasis on the eastern wall is regarded as the most remarkable composition . Christ is to be seen before the gates of Hell with Adam , Eve , David , Solomon and John the Baptist who is holding a scroll with the words : 'Behold Him of whom I told you ' . One can also compare the 'small Crucifixion' which is painted in the niche above the grave with the second , larger one above the door to the sanctuary showing Christ on the Cross , John and the Good Centurion on the right side in front of the walls of Jerusalem .