A splendidly situated site, some 16 KMs east of Siteia, and 12 Kms west of Palaikastro, Toplou is a lovely place to visit with amazing attractions.
In addition to its own museum it boasts a treaty signed between the city states of Itanos and Ierapetra, concerning the visiting rights of these two places to a temple of Artemis, and donated to the church by British antiquary, Robert Pashley, in 1834. It does seem odd that an artefact dating back almost a hundred and fifty years before the foundation of the Christian faith, can be found on a wall of a monastery, but this is one of many reasons to visit Toplou. The church is dedicated to i panaghia, or the virgin Mary, and St John the Theologian, and was originally built in the middle of the 15th century, quite possibly on the site of a previous church. The name derives from the Turkish word for canon, and seems somehow fitting with the monastery’s somewhat austere and military appearance. The bell tower dates back to 1558, but little else is that old, as the monastery was plundered several times and suffered extreme damage by an earthquake in the mid 17th century. Monks were killed by the Turks for aiding revolutionaries in the uprising of 1821; one which would successfully lead to the independence of greater Greece, but not Crete, which would have to wait a further 77 years to rid themselves of Ottoman rule. The Nazis were also responsible for killing monks, in the aftermath of the battle of Crete, for sheltering allied soldiers.