Toplou Monastery, located in northeastern Crete, is a significant monastery known for its rich history and organic products. Under the brand name Toplou, the monks produce and sell high-quality organic products such as wine, olive oil, and raki.
Originally known as Theotokos Akrotiriani, the monastery was built in the 14th century in a remote region of Cape Sidero, resembling a castle. Later, during Ottoman rule, it was renamed Toplou and has been in its present form since the 17th century. The monastery’s iconic 33-meter-high belfry is an impressive sight.
Throughout its history, Toplou Monastery has participated in national struggles and has endured frequent attacks, including looting and destruction by pirates and the Knights of Malta. During the Greek War of Independence of 1821, the Turks slaughtered the monks and the monastery was abandoned, and valuable relics were looted. However, a modern school was established on the premises in 1840 to educate children in the remote area, and in 1869, it was again destroyed by the Turks during the Cretan Revolution. During the German occupation of Greece in 1941, a radio operated in the monastery for communicating with the Allies in Cairo, leading to the arrest and execution of the abbot and monks.
Toplou Monastery boasts several beautiful 15th-century icons that show the development stages of the School of Constantinople, which influenced Cretan art. The monks’ education level is evident in the value of the icons, with some being works of Ioannis Cornaro, including the “Great art Thou, o Lord, and Marvelous are Thy works” icon of 1770, the “Unwithering Rose” icon of 1771, and an icon of St. Anastasia the Deliverer of Potions.
The monastery celebrates the Assumption of St. John the Theologian and Evangelist annually on September 26th with a traditional festival
TOUR AND TASTING
Visitors will have the chance to explore the monastery’s winery facilities, where they will receive in-depth information about the process of wine production. The tour will provide a comprehensive overview of each stage involved, from grape cultivation to fermentation and aging. As the tour comes to an end, participants will have the opportunity to indulge in a tasting session, where they can sample the wines produced at the monastery.