Medieval Monuments

Explore the cretan medieval monuments and byzantine monasteries

Explore the cretan medieval monuments and byzantine monasteries

Spinalonga Island

Spinalonga is a small island located at the entrance of Elounda lagoon and north of the Gulf of Mirabello. It has an area of 85 acres and its maximum height is 53 meters. During the Hellenistic period or the Minoan years, the island was a stronghold of Olounites, which was built to protect the port of the ancient city Olous. Olous was the ancient town of Elounda, currently immersed under the strip of land that connects Elounda with the Peninsula of Kolokytha. Olounda had an important harbor and sanctuary.

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Spinalonga Island
Spinalonga Island

Toplou Monastery

Toplou Monastery is located in the northeastern tip of Crete, at the base of Sidero Cape, 10km east of Sitia and 6km north of Palekastro. The monastery is one of the most historic monasteries of Crete and is known for its vast real property. In religious circles it is known as the Monastery of Panagia Akrotiriani, while the locals just call it the Great Monastery. The monastery stores some great and very old icons, such the Jesus Lord of John Kornaros (1770), the Unwithering Rose (1771), Santa Anastasia and Virgin Mary (which was found in a nearby cave where holy water flows). Moreover, there are several well-preserved frescoes dating back in the 14th century. Besides the icons, the monastery operates a museum with several old and historical religious objects, such as bibles, crosses, archbishops, sultan decrees, seals, revolutionary flags, etc.The monastery celebrates on September 26, when a big fest takes place with pilgrims arriving from all over Greece. Toplou is open for the public daily, from 9:00 to 13:00 and from 14:00 to 18:00. Lastly, the monks produce and sell excellent products as organic wine, olive oil and raki.

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Toplou Monastery
Toplou Monastery

Panagia Kera Byzantine Churche

One of the most popular Byzantine monuments in Crete (13th- 14th A.D.) It is adorned with superb wall paintings on particular themes like the representation of Saint Anna, other icons of the saints, and the fourteen scenes depicting the secret life of the Virgin Mary. Characteristic of all the wall paintings is their vividness, expressiveness and aesthetic perfection. Their existence had been hidden for hundreds of years by earlier Christians to avoid their destruction by the Turkish occupiers. It also has three aisles and a dome construction.

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Panagia Kera Byzantine Church
Panagia Kera Byzantine Church

Monasteri of Panagia Exakousti in Malles (west of Anatoli)

The Monastery of Panagia Exakousti is located in the beautiful green location Malles, near Ierapetra. Today it serves as a female convent. The nuns operate a workshop with textiles, a tailor and needlework shop and other souvenirs.

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Monasteri of Panagia Exakousti in Malles (west of Anatoli)
Monasteri of Panagia Exakousti in Malles (west of Anatoli)

Panagia Vryomeni Monastery in Meseleri (neighboring village to Anatoli)

The monastery of Panagia Vryomeni is located 4km east of the village Meseleri, in a rough and rocky area. It is dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, celebrating on September 8, but the monastery celebrates also on August 15. The church was built in 1401, and additions were made after 1550. The interior is richly decorated with very old paintings of the 15th century.

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Panagia Vryomeni Monastery in Meseleri
Panagia Vryomeni Monastery in Meseleri

Kapsas Monasteri

The Monastery of St. John in Kapsas is located 9km east of Makrigialos next to Goudouras. This is owned by Toplou Monastery, near Sitia, and is dedicated to the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, celebrated on August 29.The monastery is built like a fort on a steep rocky hillside above the sea, at the sides of the beautiful gorge of Pervolakia. In front of it there is a beautiful pebbly beach.

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Kapsas Monasteri
Kapsas Monasteri

Monasteri of Panagia Faneromeni

The Monastery of Panagia Faneromeni (i.e. Revealed Holy Mary) or Virgin Mary of Gournia is located northwest of Pachia Ammos. It is a male monastery built on a steep slope at an altitude of 540 meters with stunning sea views. The monastery church is built inside a cave. The monastery is one of the most famous in eastern Crete. On August 15, when it celebrates, pilgrims arrive from all over Crete. Indeed, some people arrive on foot so as to fulfill an oath.

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Monasteri of Panagia Faneromeni
Monasteri of Panagia Faneromeni

Byzantine Church of Holy Apostoles in Kavousi

The church of the Holy Apostles is the most important monument of Ligaras due to its age and the beauty of the frescoes. It is a single aisled vaulted temple with many frescoes that dates back between 1200 -1250. Despite the age, the frescoes that adorn every inch are kept in good condition and the actions of Archeologists have removed corrosion signs that dull old paintings in most Byzantine churches of Crete. The temple is accessible only on foot, after wandering in the very narrow alleys of the village.

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Byzantine Church of Holy Apostoles in Kavousi
Byzantine Church of Holy Apostoles in Kavousi

Arvi Monastery (a nice trail visiting also the coastline of the village Arvi)

Arvi monastery is built near the gorge of Arvi, in an elevated area with panoramic sea views. Today it is abandoned and only remnants of monks’cells reveal its past.The monastery is believed that was initially built on the ruins of the ancient Temple of Arvian Zeus in the Valley shaped at the exit of Arvi gorge. However, it was later moved to its current elevated position because of the marshes shaped in the valley.In the monastery there are two churches, one very old and one quite new, dedicated to Saint Anthony.

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Arvi Monastery
Arvi Monastery
Spinalonga
Toplou Monastery
Panagia Kera Byzantine Church
Panagia Kera Byzantine Church
Panagia Kera Byzantine Church
Monasteri of Panagia Exakousti in Malles
Monasteri of Panagia Exakousti in Malles
Panagia Vryomeni Monastery in Meseleri
Kapsas Monasteri
Kapsas Monasteri
Monasteri of Panagia Faneromeni
Byzantine Church of Holy Apostoles in Kavousi
Byzantine Church of Holy Apostoles in Kavousi
Arvi Monastery

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