The monastery of Christ the Savior of Halepa is built on a high hill near the villages Tsahiana and Veni, 46km east of Rethymno. The views to the valley of Mylopotamos from there are panoramic. While before 2000 the monastery was a set of ruins, today the restored monastery operates normally and is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Crete.
The area around the monastery is full of vineyards and olive trees, and in some places there are forests of oaks. The exact date of its founding is unknown, but certainly this is one of the oldest surviving monasteries in Crete and its foundation goes back in the Venetian period.
The main church is a two-aisled basilica without dome, dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Saviour and the birth of Christ. One of the monastery attractions is the old relief fountain.
300m outside the monastery there is the church of Agia Marina with old frescoes. The church bears the coat of arms of the family Kallergis, one of the most important families of the Venetian period, implying that the region was one of their fiefdoms. Kallergis family was so powerful that they had received special privileges from the Venetians, totally unknown to the other Cretans. In the past, Chalepa monastery operated as a nunnery at this location, before moving to its present location in 1673.
Because of its strategic location and its strong economic autonomy, Halepa monastery was the center of several battles during the Ottoman period.
- 1555: Halepa is mentioned in a notary document, thus it surely already exists (in the position of today’s Agia Marina chapel) and serves as a convent.
- 1646: The Turks, after the conquest of western Crete, destroy monasteries of Milopotamos district. They flatten the convent of Halepa and rape the nuns.
- 1673: Jeremiah Sgouros founds the (male) monastery of Halepa at its current position. The monastery is a dependency of Vosako Monastery.
- 1676: Vosako (and the monastery of Halepa) become stavropegic, i.e. directly dependent on the Patriarchate.
- 1740: All stavropegic monasteries of Crete lose their stavropegic property.
- 1759 Abbot Maximos Vergitsis completes the construction of the beautiful Venetian fountain.
- 1783: Chalepa monastery is separated from Vosako.
- 1791: The stavropegic property of Halepa is renewed.
- 1821: Abbot Nestor Kokkinidis participates in the Revolution. Egyptian Asim Aga loots the monastery and destroys the monk cells.
- 1822: The Turkish Pasha Hassan, with 15000 soldiers, camps at the monastery of Chalepa. During resting, the Cretan men of Chourdos and Andrakos attack against them and cause great damage. The Turks fight back and kill 25 Cretans.
- 1823: Hasan Pasha slaughters the monks. Only three survive: Nestor Kokkinidis, Maximos Varsamis and Neophytos Cheretis.
- 1824: Nestor Kokkinidis is outlawed, but Hasan Pasha eventually changes his decision.
- 1831-1841: During the Egyptian Era, the abbot Nestor Kokkinidis restores the monastery.
- 1850: The monastery stavropegic property is renewed by the Patriarch Anthimos IV.
- 1866: The Monastery hosts the chieftain of western Crete, Hadji Michalis Giannaris. The abbot Gerasimos Stratigis is arrested in Arkadi, holding the gun of Nestor Kokkinidis, but he is eventually released.
- 1867: Shortly after the tragedy of Arkadi, Halepa hosts the meeting of the chieftains of Crete. Korakas, Koroneos, Petropoulakis, Dedidakis, Romanos, Skoulas etc. decide to attack against Resit Pasha when he reaches Mylopotamos area.
- 1867: During the revolution of 1866-69, Omer Pasha and Resit Pasha join their forces to dominate Milopotamos. But in position "Arapi Spilios", close to the monastery, the Cretan chieftains Petroulakis, Niotis, Skoulas, Xetrypis attack against the rear guard of Resit and wreak havoc. Resit forces destroy Chalepa and recede in Perama, from where (with Omer Pasha) he tries to reconquer Mylopotamos, but in vain. This is the battle when Mylopotamos passed eventually into the hands of the Greeks.
- 1873: Halepa monastery faces huge financial problems.
- 1874: Halepa, with three monks, becomes again a dependency of Vosako.
- 1885: Iakovos Ploumis is the new abbot of Halepa. He was injured during the revolution of 1866, while in the revolution of 1897 he formed a revolutionary group, which involved 4 monks of Chalepa.
- 1900: Halepa is declared as about to stop its operation, like dozens of other monasteries in Crete.
- 1935: Halepa monastery is declared preservable and appends Diskouri monastery.
- 1950: The monastery gets deserted
- 1997: The reconstruction of the monastery complex starts