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Nea Moni, Chios

Nea Moni, Chios – one vision and three emperors
In the 11th century AD the ascetics Nikitas, Ioannis (John) and Iosif (Joseph), who practiced a monastic life on the Provateio Mountain of Chios, had a common vision. It was of the image of the Virgin, insisting that her icon be returned to where it had been discovered, signalling the location where Palaia Moni (the Old Monastery) of Chios should be built.
The devout monks told the exiled Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos about this sign from God. Constantine promised to have the monastery put under his protection, and sealed the promise by giving the monks his princely ring.
Immediately after his restoration to the throne of the Byzantine Empire, he erected Nea Moni of Chios(Dating from the 11th century ), summoning an army of the greatest master craftsmen, marble sculptors and icon painters for this purpose.
Romanos IV Diogenes, who succeeded Constantine and later Theodora as emperor, always kept the Monastery under his protection. The concern of the throne for the monastery proved constant for as long as the Byzantine Empire was to last.
The construction of the monastery begun in 1042 and it was completed by the year 1055.
Till the 17th century, the monastery had about 800 monks and much economical power with an enormous fortune, mostly land property. However, after the destruction of Chios by the Ottomans in 1822, the monastery gradually lost its prestige and the population of the monks decreased.
Τhe “katholikon” (main church) of the Monastery has an octagonal design, which in the 11th century when it was built, was a pioneering architectural feature. Elaborately decorated with semi-transparent white and purple marble, with exquisite mosaic ornamentation, the majestic splendour it exudes makes it one of the most representative samples of the imperial sacred art and architecture.
Within the monastery grounds there are two other chapels, one dedicated to Agios Panteleimon (St. Panteleimon) and Timios Stavros (the Holy Cross). During the period that the monastery functioned as a male priory, women were not allowed access. The two chapels held services for female pilgrims, who were not allowed access to the main church.
The main site of the monastery houses the monks’ cells, the refectory (‘trapeza’), which was erected between 1631 and 1637, the underground water cistern (‘kinsterna’), an 11th century construction, and the imposing defensive tower, which was built in the 14th century.
Nea Moni of Chios, its architecture as a whole, the unique relics it houses and the peace and quiet of the surrounding area make it a real treasure in the heart of the island of Chios.
Nea Moni is particularly famous for its frescoes on the walls of the churches that date from many centuries ago. In 1990, the Monastery of Nea Moni on Chios, along with the Monastery of Hosios Loukas in central Greece and of Daphni in Athens, were included in the Unesco World Heritage monuments.


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