Archaeological dig at ancient Georgian monastery

Georgian monastery Yialia

See a real live archaeological dig in progress right here on our little corner of the island!

Soon after arriving in Cyprus in 2005, we discovered some ancient ruins in the forest behind the tiny village of Yialia, about 10km from Polis. Beside it flew the flag of Saint George along with the Greek and Cypriot flags.

Shortly afterwards we found out that the ruins were part of an ancient Georgian monastery built in the tenth century. How we wished they could be uncovered and restored in some way. A year later our wish was granted as the Cypriot and Georgian governments started a project to hold a series of archaeological digs at the site. The third is going on as I write this page in May 2008.

Ancient Monastery

The ruins of the Georgian monastery called Panagia Chrysogialiotissa were first discovered back in 1981 by Georgian Professor Vakhtang Jobadze. Within the ruins of the monastery is a three-aisle domed church, built in the 10th century and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Later, a minor church was attached to the north.

The first archaeological dig back in 2006 uncovered an area of about 500sq.m revealing the layout and the various building phases over the centuries.

From inscriptions remaining on the walls, the dig has learned how the monastery was restored in the thirteenth century after the Georgian Queen Tamar took interest in it and paid for the restorations. She was apparently buried at the monastery as it was too awkward to send her body back to Georgia.

Sadly, however, the monastery was then barbarously plundered, the rooms dug out and the building was destroyed in the sixteenth century.

Archaeological Finds

Despite being blown up, several artefacts have been discovered on the site including a bronze cross, a silver coin, various pieces of pottery (a large wine pot sits virtually intact on the site) and fragments of frescoes. The latter have now been covered with awnings to protect the fading colours from the harsh Cyprus sun.

A marble floor has also been found showing evidence of the monastery's previous wealth in spite of the eventual destruction.

How to find the Georgian Monastery

Many people have tried to find the monastery over the past few years with little luck. Fortunately, thearchaeological dig has prompted the local authorities to put up some fresh signs so it is now much easier!

To find the monastery of Panagia Chrysogialiotissa, take the coast road from Polis to Argaka/Pomos.Once you have passed Argaka, look for the right hand turn to Yialia and the sign for the Georgian monastery.

Follow the tarmac road uphill for approximately 2.5km then take the dirt track to the right just before crossing the bridgeleading the upper part of the village. Stay on this dirt track for another 2km until you pass a water tank. Shortly afterwards,you wilil see a sign to the monastery at a left hand turn. The monastery is about 0.5km down this track.

Tip: Call into MYLOS taverna in Yialia for some lunch after you havevisited the monastery. It is well signposted from the bridge.




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