Right in the heart of the club / bar district is the tranquil oasis of the Monastery of Ayia Napa, which really is worth a visit.
No-one is sure when the Monastery was originally founded, but it probably dates from Byzantine times. the present building is 15th century, when Cyprus was Venetian controlled. There are a couple of local legends surrounding the place. One has it that a local hunters dog discovered an icon of the Virgin Mary in the cave which now constitutes the Church. Another more romantic legend has it that the daughter of a Venetian nobleman went to live here, having been refused permission to marry a commoner. It is said that later, a a rich woman, she endowed the monastery and planted the remarkable old sycamore tree that still stands outside.
Possibly because it was endowed by a woman, it was initially a female monastery, although it changed to male use in 1668, although since 1778 there have been no resident monks.
Today it is a place of pilgrimage, especially for childless couples who believe that the Virgin will grant them children.
Definitely worth a visit.
I have created a travelogue to allow for a few more photos.
THE MONASTERY OF AYIA NAPA
Just behind the central square don't miss visiting the huge Churge of Ayia Napa. It is within a short distance of the Monastery.
The Monastery of Agia Napa is considered to be a 'must' visit, built in 1500 A.D.
It is in beautiful gardens and there is a very old sicamore tree next to a big reservoir.
The well of the monastery
is an interesting building in the centre of the former monastery, Some columns are holding a cuppola with an octagon well underneath. Walk around that well, because there are several interesting sculptures in its decorations, you will see them best in my last 2 photographs !
The belfry of the monastery Agia Napa is the only belfry in Cyprus that stands alone, seperate from the church but just in quite a short distance. It was built in the backpart of the church, where the natural grottos will be found, the belfry is still in use nowadays.
The monastery church in Agia Napais the only church of Cyprus with a seperate belfry and a big part of this church was built in a natural grotto, so it looks quite strange in the first moment with several natural niches and siderooms connected with the large entrancehall that was added in front of the grottos.
Take a look inside, photography is no problem, even when you use the flash !
The old monastery of Agia Napa
was my main reason to drive all the way to this south-east-end of Cyprus.It dates back to the 16th century, when Cyprus was a part of Venice.According to the ledgends the monastery was built at a place, where hunters found water and also an old icon that was lost about 700 years ago. The monastery was partly destroyed, when the Turques took over Cyprus, the monks had been expelled , but the local people continued to use the church.
There is no entrancefee to this monastery !
Legend has it that a Holy Icon of the Virgin Mary was found in Ayia Napa in a cave during a hunting expedition. A monastery was then built there in honour of the Virgin Mary – The Ayia Napa Monastery. This 16th century Venetian-era monastery is partly underground and cut into rock and can today be found in by the Ayia Napa square in the centre of the town.
The ancient sycamore tree in front of the south gate is believed to be over 600 years old.
Ayia Napa is a club center. But anyway you have to visit Ayia Napa Monastery. I don't really know its history but it's really beautiful. And of course garden on its territory. There is small fountain, too old to work and beautiful trees and bushes.
The second place you will visit anyway is Limanaki - or Harbour. It's not so beautiful itself but in the evening you will have a great opportunity to take photos of it. There is a little green lighthouse and the moon is extremely bright at this place.
Go to any lively holiday resort full of bars and clubs and the last thing you'd expect to find is a monestary. However, in Ayia Napa, that's exactly what you'll see.
It's worth taking a few minutes to have a look round but apart from that, I can't really tell you much about it.
This was part of the original town before the tourists arrived. The original monastery buildings date from around the 1500s although they have recently undergone some renovation.
There is a legend behind the origins of the Monastery. It is said that a hunter followed a barking dog into a cave in the forest. He found an illuminated icon of the Virgin Mary. Of course, the story of this discovery soon spread amongst the people. A young jilted Venetian noble woman came to hear of the place where pilgrims built a chapel. The young woman decided to retreat there and built a monastery, an olive press and a mill. As she was Catholic she also had a second chapel built.
The cloister is still a peaceful spot in the middle of the nightlife and activity of what was a former fishing village.