Toplou. The Monastery of Toplou is one of the largest and most important monasteries of Crete. It is located 15 kilometres east of Sitia. This monastery is also called "Panagia Akrotiriani" and is like a fortress with 10 meter high walls. In the monastery is an interesting museum housed where beautiful icons from the period 15th-17th century are exhibited. After the fall of Constantinople renowned painters came here from the city. The monastery experienced great prosperity in the Byzantine period, but also during the Venetian period. It is said that the name of the monastery is derived from the words 'To Plousio' (The Rich) because Toplou is a wealthy monastery with many real estate holdings as well as vineyards and olive groves. The area of the monastery is about 800 m2 and therefore it is sometimes called 'Grand Monastery'.Within the walls is a building with three floors, in addition, there are smaller lower buildings. These buildings served as cells for the monks, kitchens, warehouses and for the reception of guests.
In the year 1612 the monastery was completely destroyed after an earthquake but the Venetians repaired the damage, for it was an important strategic place to fight against the Ottomans.
Text: Yorgos and Wendy Nikolidakis - Revised by Maxine van Hoften Gee