Located on the Greek island of Chios is another treasure of Greece’s long history, which is now included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Nea Moni, the “new monastery” built in the 11th century, was built on the slopes of Mt. Mt. Provateio, about 15 kilometers from Chios Town. It has the most exquisite mosaics in all the history of the so-called “Macedonian Renaissance”. The monastery was built in the middle of the 11th century by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos and his wife Empress Soy.
According to legend, Constantine, who was exiled on the nearby island of Lesvos, was visited by three monks, who miraculously found a portrait of the Virgin Mary from a branch of a myrtle. Then, the monks told Constantine that they had a vision. After he was exiled, he became the emperor and thus won. Constantine agreed that if this vision does become a reality, a large church will be built. In 1042, after this exact event, he began to build a building dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Only seven years later, in 1049, the nave of the church, or Katholikon church, was opened for consecration, and the entire building was completed in 1055 after the emperor’s death. The main church is octagonal, the so-called “isolated” type found in Chios and Cyprus. All three parts can be traced back to the 11th century. Like monasteries in Western Europe, Nea Moni was given “privileges”, a legal way to collect taxes and land grants, and was very wealthy during the Byzantine period.
In its heyday, around 1300, it owned about one-third of all the land in Chios and had 800 monks. The monastery complex occupies an area of approximately 17,000 square meters (182,986 square feet) and consists of katholikon, two smaller churches dedicated to the Church of the Holy Cross and Saint Panteleimon in the Refectory, or “Trapeza” for the monks. Prison cell, reception hall or “triklinon” and underground water tank.