Church of Saint George at


Church of Saint George at Episkopi
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At the centre of Ierapetra plain we meet the village of Episkopi (i.e. diocese). Its name is due to the fact that during the Byzantine period it was the seat of the bishop of Ierapytna. The large church was known as Panagia Eftatrouli (seven-dome), as it was cruciform with a central dome and smaller domes around it. Today the church that was dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Panagia), Saint John (Agios Ioannis) and Saint Spyridon (Agios Spiridon) is not preserved, as unfortunately it was completely destroyed at the beginning of the 20th century to build a new church.

Almost in the center of the village, neat the site of the initial church of the diocese, we meet the impressive church of Saint George (Agios Georgios) and Saint Charalambos (Agios Charalambos). This impressive temple is particularly beautiful and claims a global uniqueness of its kind because there is no church like this elsewhere. The left part is the nave of Saint George is much older than the right of Saint Haralambos, which was added during the 16th century.

The aisle of Saint George was built in the 11th century and it probably firstly operated as baths of the diocese, before being converted into a church. Therefore it has a very cute shape with a playful dome that resembles the architectural work of Gaudi in Barcelona. Similar baths are met in the Monastery of Kaisariani in Athens and in Zoodochos Pigi of Dervenosalesi in Boeotia

The church is located next to the stream that flows through the village and is surrounded by open space with a well and trees, while the back part is connected to village houses. The interior frescoes have not survived but what immediately pulls the visitor's attention is the wooden iconostasis (icon shrine) with two dragons beneath the cross, one of the most impressive in Crete with numerous engravings.

In the right wall, low to the floor, there is a vaulted opening from where a tunnel started, now blocked by debris. Locals claim that the tunnel was very long and led out of the village in times of urgent need.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Lassithi Prefecture
  • Type: Church
  • Peak Period: Venetian Era (1204 AD - 1669 AD)
  • Accessibility: Paved road

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