Department of Antiquities

The Engleistra (Place of Seclusion) and the Monastery of Agios Neophytos

The Engleistra and the Monastery of Agios Neophytos are situated near the village of Tala, about 10 kilometres north of Nea Paphos. The Engleistra was initially a natural cave on the eastern side of a hill’s slope. In front of the hill lies a deep gorge, at the end of which flows a torrent.

Inside the Engleistra, Saint Neophytos led a hermit’s life. He is considered to be one of the most significant figures of the Church of Cyprus. According to the 'Τipiki Diathiki' ('Typical Testament' ), which he composed in 1214, he moved into the small carved chapel in 1159. Local tradition mentions that the Saint had initially carved another Engleistra, to the east of Pafos, near the village of Souskiou. This carved cave is known as the 'Palaia Engleistra' ( Old Engleistra) and its frescoes date to the 15th or the beginning of the 16th century. It is possible that another hermit may have lived there but not Saint Neophytos.

Saint Neophytos turned the natural cave into a place of seclusion which consisted of two areas. One area was a small chapel dedicated to Timios Stavros ( Holy Cross) and the other was the Saint’s cell, in which he also carved his tomb. His cell communicated with the church’s bema. He confined himself in the Engleistra until 1170, when he was ordained priest by the Bishop of Pafos, Vasilios Kinnamos, spreading his fame throughout the island. Many monks gathered around him, forming a monastic community, for which Saint Neophytos composed the aforementioned 'Τipiki Diathiki' which comprised a set of rules related to the administration of the monastery. The Saint’s need for serenity and seclusion led him to carve another Engleistra higher on the rock, above the old chapel. He carved another small chapel dedicated to Agios Ioannis Prodromos (Saint John the Baptist) next to his new cell.

The Engleistra (Place of Seclusion) of Agios Neophytos

From the monastic structures of the earlier monastery only the little chapel of the Engleistra with the narthex and the sacristy over it, the Saint’s cell with his tomb and the refectory, still survive. Higher on the hill, there exists the Saint’s later cell and the chapel of Agios Ioannis Prodromos.

Of the two Engleistras of Agios Neophytos, the older is the most interesting as it is adorned with frescoes. According to the inscription in the Saint’s cell, the frescoes in the Palaia Engleistra and in the bema of the chapel of Timios Stavros, were completed by the painter Theodoros Apsevdis in 1183. The Saint is depicted twice in the frescoes. Sometime during the beginning of the 13th century the chapel’s frescoes were replaced. Only a few pieces have survived from the wall-paintings of the painter. His style can be found in many monuments in the Balkan region and it originated in Constantinople. The 13th century frescoes, which replaced those of Apsevdis, reveal a very different style, characterised by the almost exaggerated schematic rendering of the forms.

The Engleistra (Place of Seclusion) of Agios Neophytos:
Wall paintings

The katholikon of the Monastery of Agios Neophytos was probably built in the beginning of the 16th century and belongs to the type of the barrel-vaulted, three-aisled, domed basilica. The original church was completely decorated with frescoes. However, a large part of them was destroyed during the period 1585-1611.

The Monastery of Agios Neophytos
The Monastery of Agios Neophytos

District Pafos
Τelephone --
Opening Hours 9.00-16.00 (winter)
9.00-13.00 και 14.00-18.00 (summer)
Admission Free


Please click here to print.