Hidden in a valley, Nea Moni (Νέα Μονή) is an 11th century monastery built by Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachos and his wife, Empress Zoe. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-see when visiting Chios. Nea Moni is open daily from dawn until sunset except between 1pm and 4pm. The museum is open daily except Mondays from 8am to 1pm.
The history of the monastery can be traced back to three monks who found an icon of the Virgin Mary. The monks, inspired by the discovery of the icon, visited Constantine while he was in exile on the island of Lesbos and told him of their prediction that he would become an emperor. Constantine promised to build the monastery if the prediction came true. Sure enough, two years later, he was crowned Byzantine Emperor and kept his promise by sending the best architects and artists to build the monastery.
The monastery was built between 1042 and 1054. The highlight of the complex is the Katholikon (main church), which was built on the exact spot the icon was found. Much of the complex, including the Katholikon, was destroyed during the Massacre of Chios in 1822. Reconstruction and restoration began in 1857.
Inside the church, there are frescoes and mosaics that have been restored after many years of damage by the Ottomans and earthquakes. They date back to the 11th century.
Also of interest in the Katholikon are the relics of several saints and a clock from Smyrna.
At Holy Cross Chapel, just inside the gates, there’s a glass case holding bones of people massacred by the Ottomans in 1822.
On the rest of the beautiful grounds of the monastery, there are the monk’s cells, a refectory, and a cistern. There’s also another small chapel, the Chapel of St. Panteleimon.