Lassithi, Crete Churches & Monasteries
A choice of ancient cobbled roads and pathways act as route ways to places of cultural and historical interest, lead to Byzantine churches, to jewelry from an era of unprecedented peace and harmony, to dotted agrarian settlements stretching back into the infinity of the Archipelagos, to faraway virgin beaches, to farmlands where the water resources are abundant and flowing, to a people who have been infused by rock and light, to temples lost within their own silences...
Panagia Kera - The most popular Byzantine monument in Crete (13th- 14th A.D.), it is located in Logari, 1 km east of Kritsa. This triple-nave Byzantine church is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary, to Saint Anthony and Saint Anna.
Initially, the church had only one nave, but two more were added later (north and south). These additions in the 14th century were supported by buttresses, which give the church its characteristic appearance.The frescoes in the middle nave, dating from the 14th century, included some of the most important from the time of the Palaeologan Renaissance on Crete.
The northern nave, also from the 14th century, is dominated by a depiction of the Second Coming and the fourteen scenes depicting the secret life of the Virgin Mary. Of particular interest, however, is the portrait of the founder, his wife and young daughter, as it is one of the sole surviving murals from mediaevil Crete.
Finally, in the northwest pessary is an image of St. Francis of Assisi, a Western saint much beloved by poor Cretans of all faiths. Characteristic of all the wall paintings is their vividness, expressiveness and aesthetic perfection.
The Church of Agios Nikolaos - North of the town of Agios Nikolaos on top of a small peninsula, the church of Saint Nikolas is the oldest example of classic early Byzantine architecture. It is quite a small church that was built between the 7th and 9th century, during the Iconoclastic period, as indicated by its schematic decoration. Geometric and natural patterns, and intersecting circles unite to form multi-colored leaves of bright colors, and schematic tree trunks with branches, in addition to diamond and rosette shapes comprise the interior decoration.
These illustrations had been super-imposed over the originals because of the ban on icon painting in churches imposed by the Byzantine emperors of the Isausus dynasty (712-802A.D.) which, having commenced in Istanbul, spread throughout the entire Byzantine Empire.
When the church was being repaired during the 14th century, after suffering damage from the earthquake of 1303 that rocked and almost destroyed Crete, it was discovered that the schematic decorations had concealed the Christian paintings.
The Church of Panagia Brefotrophus - This small one-roomed covered-arch church located in the center of town is dated from the beginning of the 12th century, according to the inscription which was discovered on its floor.
The church, which is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is named after Brofotrophus because it is believed that she can perform miracles, in particular those relating to childhood. It is one of the oldest monuments in the area.
Church of Saint John the Theologian - This church is located 2 km from Kritsa on the road to Krousta. According to experts, it is the most important example of ecclesiastic architecture of the 16th and 17th century, having three parallel naves and one western transverse, which were consecutively built until the 18th century.
Church of Our Lady the Guide - (Panagia y Odigitria): The pride of more recent residents of Kritsa. A twin-nave domed basilica (6 domes), with peculiar architecture that was founded in November of 1852 (later Turkish occupation). It is dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, (right nave) and to Saint Haralambos. The recent renovation (2001) has revealed the unsurpassed and unaffected beauty of the church.