© Ministry of Culture and Sports
General view of the New Monastery from NW
According to tradition, Nea Moni was founded by the emperor Constantine IX Monomachos (1042-1055) in order to reward two monks from Chios, who had prophesied to him when he was in exile on Mitilini that his exile would soon come to an end and that he would ascend the throne.

The monastery was built in roughly the middle of the island on the west side of Mount Provateion, where a few years earlier the monks had found the miraculous icon of the Virgin hanging from a myrtle branch.

Monomachos endowed the monastery with land and its own income, a tactic followed by other emperors, with the result that Nea Moni became one of the most famous and wealthiest monasteries in the Aegean down to the time of the Greek War of Independence (1821-1830), when it entered upon economic decline. During its nine hundred years of life the monastery has been sorely tried on many occasions by the destructive madness of men and the natural elements. It suffered its worst devastation in the 19th century, when the monastery was looted and put to the torch by the Turks in 1822, and the main dome of the Katholikon and part of the sanctuary collapsed during the devastating earthquake of 1881. The surviving parts of the original monastery complex are the Katholikon, the cistern, the lower part of the defense tower, and the east wall with the apse in the monk?s refectory.

The Katholikon of Nea Moni is an insular domed octagon church, and probably served as the model for the type. It is one of the finest monuments of Byzantine art, on account both of its architecture and of the mosaics with which it is adorned, which are outstanding works of art by 11th century Constantinopolitan craftsmen.
Olga Vassi, archaeologist