Ayia Napa is a town in the Ammohostos district which was named after the Monastery. The Monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Mary of Napi who is the Saint of the Forest. For shortening reasons later it became Ayia Napa.
Built around the 15th century, the Medieval Monastery is a sign that Christians lived there since the Byzantine years. In the area there’s a cave, a well and hiding place that show the Christian action. It seems that it was built when Cyprus was conquered by the Venetians.
Many legends are connected with the building.
The oldest recounts that during the 10th century, a hunter and his dog found the icon of Virgin Mary hidden in the cave. While hunting, they saw a shining light coming from it, they followed it and found the icon. After, the place became a local attraction. The image must have been placed the 7th or 8th century to save it from the icon fights.
Another tradition supports that a Venetian aristocratic daughter run away from her family as they didn’t allow her to marry her love, who was not an aristocrat. This woman built the church and some rooms. Later, the place turned into a women monastery. In the middle of 16th century, the Ottomans took over Cyprus but they didn’t destroy the monastery and kept it as it is.
In 1668 it becomes a men monastery and by 1758 there are no permanent residents due to unknown reasons. In 1813 the Monastery is habited by farmers, after a restoration by some people from Thessaloniki, Greece. The residents of the village used the Church until 1950 when another restorations had to be done to sustain historical buildings.
Since Cyprus’s independence in 1960 until 2006, the monastery was used for Christian meetings. A museum is built in the area too. Today the Monastery is used for many cultural events too and is open to the public. The icon of Virgin Mary is moved to a new church close to the Monastery.
In the Church, there’s a belt that Virgin Mary is said that wore and it’s miraculous. Women who cannot conceive children wear that belt and then they are able to get pregnant.
The Monastery of Ayia Napa is a quiet place where anyone can find some inner happiness, religious person or not. Also, as it is a building that survived so many centuries, is a Cypriot history lesson for every individual.
Address: Grigori Afxentiou, Ayia Napa, Cyprus