The building where the museum is housed, is an old two-storied cell situated NW of the main church of the Monastery. It has been restored during the early 80’s thanks to a donation from Mr Chandris, through the ’Greek Society’.
The museum is installed in the upper floor of the building, which consists of two continuous rooms for the exhibition and one small room for the guards. At the ground floor there is a small oratory and a store room. W.C. facilities have been arranged at the back of the museum.
Because of the pillage that the Monastery suffered by the Turks during the massacres of Chios at 1822, the items exhibited are not numerous and date mostly after that time. Among them, post-Byzantine icons, ecclesiastical silverworks, ecclesiastical and popular embroideries and woven textiles are included.
The most important item is the ’Pefki’, a silk woven with gold and silver threads curtain, with stylized floral motives. According to the woven dedicatory inscription, it was made by chian craftsmen for the Monastery of Nea Moni, in 1742. Its original use is uncertain.
The Nea Moni Monastery was built in the 11th century (around 1042 – 1056) and was dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It covers an area of approximately 17,000 m2 and is located in the central region of the island of Chios. The buildings comprising the Nea Moni Monastery include the main church (catholicon), 2 smaller churches, a table or trapeza which was the monks’ dining area, the monks’ quarters (kelia) and underground tanks (kinsternes) that were built to collect water. In the northwest corner of the Monastery, there stands a strong defensive tower. A tall, stone-wall surrounds the complex of the Monastery.
According to monastic tradition, the Emperor Constantine Monomachos founded the Monastery to repay three Chian monks for predicting that his banishment to Lesvos was temporary and he would eventually return to the throne. The three monks discovered the miraculous Icon of the Virgin Mary hanging on a branch of myrtle at the Monastery’s current location. This was where they originally built the small church with a few quarters. The Emperor Monomachos provided the Monastery with property and revenues, something that was often very unusual for the Byzantine financial system. The Nea Moni Monastery became one of the wealthiest and most well known monasteries in the Aegean. This prosperity continued until the Turks occupied the island in 1822 and looted the Monastery, henceforth the beginning of its financial decline.
The main church or catholicon is located in the central point of the Monastery. It is comprised of a main church, the esonarthex and the exonarthex. The architecture of the main temple is the well known “island” octagonal type. The only examples of this architecture in existence today are in Chios and Cyprus.
The other buildings contained within the limits of the stone walls include:
The mosaics of the Nea Moni Monastery date back to the 11th century and comprise a portion of the Monastery’s dowry. Today, it is one of the three remaining collections left in Greece of the mid-Byzantine period and it remains in relatively good condition.
Key characteristics of the technique used to create these mosaics pertain to the dramatic expressions and monastic simplicity in its entirety. The golden background occupies a large portion of the surface drawings and as the light reflects on it, it enhances the transcendency of the depictions and shapes as if they are moving on a superior and spiritual world. Their exquisite quality in addition to the fact that they comprise the work of artists directly connected with the imperial workshops in Constantinople, place them amongst the most significant creations of Byzantine art.
The Monastery is listed in the monuments protected by UNESCO’s World Heritage.
Special Note: The museum is open to the public but, unforunately, the entrance in the Catholikon of the Monastery is not allowed during Summer and Autumn 2005 due to extented gentrification works made by archaeologists of the Greek Ministry of Culture.
Opening Hours for Nea Moni Museum: Tuesday – Sunday 09:00-13:00, Monday closed
Tel. +30 22710 79370
Ticket: 2€. 1€ for Greek pupils and students.