Panagia Monastery


Panagia Paplinou Monastery at Vainia
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The monastery of Panagia Paplinou is located at the area of village Vainia, 10km east of Ierapetra, and in relatively close proximity to the beach Katharades (2km). The monastery is not inhabited today, but its church celebrates on August 15 when a big feast takes place.

The monastery belongs to the parish of Vainia village and does not remind anything of the historical and serious events that took place here. The church is a small renovated temple dedicated to the Dormition of Virgin Mary (Koimisis), which has been added a second aisle dedicated to Saint Fanourios. Around the temple we see the monk cells and the small houses where the visitors spend the 15 first days of the August, the so-called Summer Easter of the Greek Orthodox Church. Below the church, there is a huge plane tree with a spring of water, which gave life to the gardens of the monastery in the past.

The monastery was probably built during the Venetian Era and its original use was not monastic. This last conclusion is derived from the fact that the monastery is built close to the beach and is easily accessible, while it was used to build monasteries in inaccessible areas so as to be well protected from pirates.

The female monastery is known for one of the most tragic atrocities that have occurred on the island. After the Greek Revolution of 1821, the janissary Mehmet Pilavas with his friends stayed in the monastery for several days, eating and drinking. On the last day they raped the nuns and then cut their breasts and their genitals! Having made these despicable acts, they plundered the monastery. By boat, they moved to Koufonisi islet where they killed the local shepherds and stole their sheep. When the news was rumored to the Greek chieftains of province Ierapetra, they went to Koufonissi and killed all the Turks, except three who escaped.


  • 16th-17th century: The monk Papoulinos founds the monastery of Our Lady (Panagia)
  • 1823: The janissary Mehmet Pilavas and his partners rape the nuns of Paplinou and plunder the monastery. The monastery is deserted.
  • 1841: Panagia Paplinou is granted to Toplou Monastery and its renovation starts. Like Toplou, it also becomes Stavropegic, i.e. managed directly by the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
  • 1900: The monastery is dissolved by Act of the Cretan State and handed to the parish of Vainia.
  • 1903: The monastery reoperates as a branch of Toplou Monastery for a few years until closed.
  • 1956: The present church is renovated by the brothers John and Pantelis Psilinakis. The aisle of St. Fanourios is built.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Lassithi Prefecture
  • Type: Church
  • Accessibility: Paved road

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