Halepa Monastery or The monastery of Christ the Savior of Halepa is one of the most beautiful and the most famous in Crete. It is built on a high hill near the villages of Tsahiana, Axos, Agridia and Veni, 46km east of Rethymno.
Nobody can say for sure when the Monastery was founded but there is evidence that suggests that it was already operational during the Venetian Period. The temple is a two aisled basilica without a dome. One aisle is dedicated to the Birth of Christ and the other in Transfiguration. In its days it had 70 monks, while the silver utensils were more than 300 kilos. Because of its strategic location and its strong economic autonomy, Halepa Monastery was the center of several battles during the Ottoman Period. In 1822 the Turkish leader, Hassan Pasha, head of 15,000 soldiers invaded Milopotamos Region and camped in Halepa Monastery. The Cretans waited for him there and hit his forces while they were resting. At the end of the day the Turks scattered and suffered many loses. Similarly, in 1967, Omer and Resit, two powerful Turkish leaders, joined forces to conquer Milopotamos. The rebels stroke back from Halepa Monastery to make the Turks fall back to Perama and end their plans. The church bears the coat of arms of the family Kallergis, one of the most important families of the Venetian period, implying that the region was one of their fiefdoms. Kallergis family was so powerful that they had received special privileges from the Venetians, totally unknown to the other Cretans.
The area around the monastery is full of vineyards and olive trees, and also forests of oaks and dryads. On the east side stands an old pine tree which looks like it has spread its 'wings' in order to protect the monastery from the ravages of time. Visit the Church at sunset, when the sun and the mountains become one and the view reveals all of nature’s beauty.
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