The tower of


Xopateras Tower
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Xopateras or Xopapas (nickname of John Markakis from Manousiana village) was one of the greatest revolutionary figures of Crete. His existence is closely associated with the monastery of Odigitria near Sivas.

When he was young, John Markakis became a monk named Ioasaf. But he was a restless and energetic figure that could not get dedicated to the God. He was not unaffected by the major problems of the era. Slavery, oppression of his compatriots and human passions influenced his life.

He came into conflict with the Turks, because he killed an Ottoman who dared to offend the value and the dignity of his family. Thus, he was put on leave by the local bishop. This was certainly caused also by his marriage with a beautiful girl, with whom he had a child (monks are not allowed to get married in Orthodox Church). Then, he turned to a rebel (guerrilla) and with other co-rebels, they chased the Turks.

Although he had no rights in the monastery, he built a tower on the northwest corner of it, which was used as a base against the Turks. He found shelter in the tower on February 1828 or 1829, when the Turkish army besieged the tower. Then he asked all rebels who accompanied him to leave and stayed therein with his nephew Troullinos, Vlatakis from Melabes and two women, his sister and his wife with their child. Besides these five, the five monks of the monastery stayed and fought the Turks, till they all died.

According to the historian Kritovoulidis, 800 Turks (3000 according to others) surrounded the monastery. The battle lasted for three days and nights. The Turks made successive attacks against the tower, but Xopateras killed them without mercy. On the second day, the Turks tried to burn the tower, but Xopateras threw against them 10 cells with bees, which kept them away for a whole day. Everyone was killed, except himself and his sister, who filled his gun. Eventually the enemy, managed to put fire on the third day.

His sister died from asphyxiation, while Xopateras approached the tower door with his pistol in hand and fired continuously. When the ammunition was exhausted, he threw the gun and his amulet on fire. He took his knife, opened the door and rushed like a tornado with a broken leg against the Turks. The first three of them who tried to arrest him, fell dead, but the next ones managed to cut Xopateras’ head. According to some reports, the Turks that Xopateras killed were 30 and the wounded were 15.

Today the tower still stands proudly near the entrance of the monastery and the visitor can see its interior.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Fortress / Tower
  • Peak Period: Ottoman Era (1669 - 1898)
  • Accessibility: Paved road
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