Heraklion Vrontissi monastery

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Location: Zaros

The Monastery of Vrontissi is one of the oldest monasteries in Crete. It is located around 50 km southwest of Heraklion Town, on the road between the villages Zaros and Vorizia. You will find it at an altitude of 550 meters, overlooking Vorizia Village and the Plain of Messara. It is believed to have been named after its founder.

Although no one knows when the monastery was exactly constructed, it is believed to have been built after 900 AD, while the oldest written reference to it dates back to 1400. Despite having thrived during the 16th century, its decline occurred during the Ottoman Occupation period, until it was ultimately abandoned after an attack in 1866. Throughout the years, the facilities of the monastery functioned as livestock enclosures or shelters during times of war. Restoration work started in 1992.

The main church of the monastery has two aisles and is dedicated to Saint Antonios and Apostle Thomas. The remaining murals inside the monastery date back to the 14th century and exhibit a strong influence from the works of the Renaissance. According to tradition, Damaskinos and El Greco, the most prominent figures of Cretan iconography, have lived and worked in the monastery. Some icons and other items from the church have been transferred to the Church of Agios Minas in Heraklion, while six icons made by Damaskinos that used to be housed in the monastery are now displayed at the museum of Agia Ekaterini Church.

The monastery used to be protected by walls that were later demolished. The Venetian bell tower of the church has survived to this day and is, in fact, one of the oldest belfries on the island. You will also find an impressive fountain that dates to the 16th century, with marble sculptures that depict Adam and Eve. At their feet, there are four figures with flowing water from their mouths, representing the four rivers of Eden. The Turks used to call it Vrondisi Santrivanli Monastir, which means The Fountain Monastery.



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