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June 14, 2007

Road Trip Day #6: Toplou Monastery

On the way back from Vai we made a stop at the Toplou Monastery.

Situated near the coast it was built in a time when it was prone to raids by pirates and Turks. As a result it looks more like a fortress than your traditional Cretan monastery. It was also armed to the teeth and played a role in the resistance to several of the invasions of the island.


Indeed, in the Second World War, the Abbot was executed by the occupying Germans for sheltering resistance fighters, and allowing them to operate an underground radio transmitter from inside the monastery. No word on whether the call sign was "Night Hawk" though.


The areas open to the public included the main chapel with a fine collection of icons and religious books from the monastery's early years, and a separate museum of documents from the history of the monastery.

It was nice, but the atmosphere was a little impaired by a group of French tourists whose idea of showing respect in an active place of worship was to whistle the Indiana Jones theme tune as they went through.

No photographs were allowed - but I did find this picture on the internet of my favourite exhibit.


This banner was used against the Ottomans during the 1800s uprisings against their rule of Crete.

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