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Monasteries in Crete: Guardians of Orthodoxy

The Preveli Monastery

The Monastery of Preveli is located 37 km south of the town of Rethymno and comprises two sets: the "Lower Monastery", now abandoned, and the "Back Monastery", which is still inhabited and can visit. Two explanations for the name: either it is that of an inhabitant of the village of  Prévéliana who, after having committed a murder, would have come to seek refuge in this region, or of the man who would have restored the Monastery. The central enclosure is dominated by a church dedicated to Saint John and the Annunciation. The church is modern, and was built on the remains of a Byzantine temple. Under the Ottoman domination, this Monastery played a leading role. He kept the property left by the Christians and operated a school.

Toplu Monastery

Toplou looks like a fortress, a bit like Arkadi... It was built in the 16th century, on the ruins of an older foundation. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Saint John. The interior of the church is decorated with frescoes from the 14th century and many Byzantine icons, including many representations of Ioannis Cornaros. Two museums are housed by the Monastery of Toplou: one is ecclesiastical, it contains icons and rich objects of worship. The other exhibits a collection of engravings from the 17th and 18th centuries. The Toplou Monastery is on the road leading to Vaï, in a very beautiful environment.

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