The Monastery of Toplou is one of the
most important and the richest monasteries in
Crete. It is situated at a distance of 14
kilometers eastern to Sitia and some 6
kilometers northeastern to Palaecastro. It is a
square building surrounded by a high wall (more
than 10 meters high), which makes out of it an
unassailable fortress. It has a long history,
lost in the centuries. It had resisted to
several attacks of any kind of enemies, mainly
of pirates, it had been damaged several times by
the Ottomans in 1821, 1866 etc. and the monks
had often been persecuted and massacred. From
1821 to 1828 it had been ruined and abandoned.
Despite all these adventures, a good part of the treasures of the monastery have been preserved in good condition; an excellent example are the wall paintings going back to the 14 th century and several icons of masters of the Cretan School, the most important being the icon of “Axion Esti” of the great painter and hagiographer I. Kornaros (1770).
Access from Aghios Nicolaos and Sitia is possible by rented or private car and motorbikes.