The Monastery of Toplou

 

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.