Heraklion Paliani Monastery

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Location: Venerato

Monastery Palianis is a non-cenobitic women's monastery, located at an altitude of 280 meters.
Its central part is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, celebrated on August 15. The northern side of the monastery is dedicated to Saint Panteleimon, whose memory is celebrated on July 27. Finally, the southern side is dedicated to the Holy Three Hierarchs, celebrated on January 30. Moreover, next to the monastery stands the chapel of the Saint Apostles, celebrated on June 30.

The monastery houses a museum with precious exhibits such as historical books, icons, and religious relics. You can also find a shop to buy wefts and carpets hand-tailored by the nuns. Around the monastery, you can see the remains of the old walls that used to protect it. In addition, you can visit the Saint John church located nearby. Inside it, visitors can admire some 14th-century murals.

Brief History

Monastery Palianis is one of the oldest in Crete. It was established during the first Byzantine period and was built on the ruins of an ancient temple.
There are two theories regarding its name. According to the first one, it used to be named Palaia Moni, meaning "old monastery", which was later shortened to Paliani. Another claim is that it got its name from Apolonia, an ancient city that is believed to have existed in the area.

The monastery was demolished during the Ottoman Occupation, and almost all the nuns were killed. Sister Parthenia, who survived, funded the rebuilding of the monastery, which started in 1826 and ended in 1860. Unfortunately, it was attacked again by the Turks in 1866, who burned it and destroyed or sold many of its icons.

The Holy Myrtle

In the yard of the monastery, you can find a centenarian myrtle that is believed to be miraculous. It is celebrated on the 24th of September. According to the legend, an icon of the Virgin Mary is hidden inside its stem, which can only be seen by children. Believers gather to honor it and take some of its allegedly miraculous leaves, reviving the tree worship tradition of the ancient Minoans.



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