In the IX-X centuries a temple was erected on the bank of the river of Psyrtsha in New Athos. The temple was built of white ashlar limestone. The monument of the medieval architecture was built in the place where according to the Christian legend St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite had been buried. It is a three apse cross-domed church with a narthex. The central apse is pentagonal outside, the two sides are semicircular. The interior decoration of the church is a sample of the early medieval church architecture in Abkhazia, which is confirmed by its similarity to the Pitsunda temple.
According to the legend in the middle of the Ist century the Apostles Andrew and Simon the Canaanite arrived in Abkhazia. The Apostle Andrew went to the north, to the land of Djigets and Simon the Canaanite remained in Abazgia. During the persecution of Christians, St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite was martyred on the bank of the river Psyrtsha, where he was buried.
Restoration of Temple
In the XIVth century the temple of Simon the Canaanite was adorned with unique murals, which partly preserved under a layer of the late plaster.
In the end of the XIXth century, the temple was restored by the New Athos monks. Its architecture was changed. Restoration works were carried out in 1956. In the end of the XXth century during the last restoration, the Abkhazian restorer Anzor Sakania discovered several fragments of the ancient mural.
For some time the church served as the burial place of the spiritual representatives of the Sukhum Eparchy. It was known all over the Caucasus. Pilgrims from various countries visited this architectural and religious monument. The French explorer Frederic Dubois de Monpere described the small and very ancient church situated among the ruins of the fortress Anakopia. The old Caucasian general A. Muravyov also wrote about his memories of visiting the temple. Admiring the beauty of the ancient vaults, he regretted about the poor condition of the temple. In 1884 the temple was visited by Archimandrite Leonid (Kavelin).
Nowadays the temple is opened and functioned. Pilgrims come here to worship the St. Apostle Simon the Canaanite and simple laymen also come to ask for love, prosperity and happiness in marriage.