The Northern Aegean Islands Sights

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Nea Moni Review

Almost hidden among the olive groves, the island's most important monastery—with one of the finest examples of mosaic art anywhere—is the 11th-century Nea Moni. Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos ("the Dueler") ordered the monastery built where three monks found an icon of the Virgin in a myrtle bush. The octagonal katholikon (medieval church) is the only surviving example of 11th-century court art—none survives in Constantinople. The church has been renovated a number of times: the dome was completely rebuilt following an earthquake in 1881, and a great deal of effort has gone into the restoration and preservation of the mosaics over the years. The distinctive three-part vaulted sanctuary has a double narthex, with no buttresses supporting the dome. This design, a single square space covered by a dome, is rarely seen in Greece. Blazing with color, the church's interior gleams with marble slabs and mosaics of Christ's life, austere yet sumptuous, with azure blue, ruby red, velvet green, and skillful applications of gold. The saints' expressiveness comes from their vigorous poses and severe gazes, with heavy shadows under the eyes. On the iconostasis hangs the icon—a small Virgin and Child facing left. Also inside the grounds are an ancient refectory, a vaulted cistern, a chapel filled with victims' bones from the massacre at Chios, and a large clock still keeping Byzantine time, with the sunrise reckoned as 12 o'clock.

    Contact Information

  • Address: In mountains west of Chios town, Chios 82100
  • Phone: 22710/79391
  • Cost: Donations accepted
  • Hours: Tues.–Sun. 8–1 and 4–8
  • Location: Nea Moni
Updated: 05-27-2011

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