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The Architecture of Agia Triada Monastery on Crete

Agia Triada Monastery
The monastery is one of the most representative examples of the Cretan Renaissance. Credit: Greek Reporter

The Patriarchal Monastery of Agia Triada Tsagarolon (Holy Trinity) located in the Akrotiri Peninsula, on the island of Crete, was built back in the seventeenth century by two brothers, Jeremiah and Lorenzo, who belonged to the old, noble Venetian family of the Tzagaroloi.

Both were monks who had converted from Catholicism to Orthodoxy.

According to tradition, one of the brothers, Jeremiah, traveled to Mt. Athos to copy the construction plans for the new monastery, but the final design and architecture of the complex were very much influenced by the work of Italian builders.

Jeremiah was a famous scholar of his era who was also a candidate for Patriarch of Constantinople.

Agia Triada Monastery
Credit: Greek Reporter

The monastery, one of the most representative examples of the Cretan Renaissance, is located near the Stavros mountains, in an area known as “Tzompomilos” on the cape of Meleha (Akrotiri).

The Church and monastery are surrounded by olive groves, vineyards and cypress trees. They were built on top of a pre-existing church. This Venetian-style monastery owns its well-established reputation around Greece mostly to the exceptional wine,  olive oil and other organic products it makes from its holdings.

Since its foundation, the monastery of Agia Triada was fabled for its fine grape varieties. With centuries of dedication and modern expertise, now its monks offer a unique combination of varieties well-adapted to the local microclimate of Cape Melecha.

Agia Triada Monastery is an important religious and historic site

The church of the monastery has three high domes, visible from afar. There are two chapels in the church, each with its own beautiful domes. The main church is dedicated to the Agia Triada and the two side chapels to Agios Ioannis Prodromos (St. John the Forerunner).

Agia Triada Monastery
The main church is dedicated to the Agia Triada and the two side chapels to Agios Ioannis Prodromos. Credit: Greek Reporter

The church is a great example of the decorative architecture of the day. A large bell tower was added later on.

The monastery, one of the most important religious centers of the island, was an important theological school as well during the nineteenth century.

During the Greek War of Independence of 1821, the Ottomans set the building on fire and it was abandoned for several years.

During that period, tragically, the documents that had been kept in its archives were lost. The whole complex was renovated in 1830, however. The Church School was founded in 1892 and in 1930 it was turned into a seminary (Ieratiki Scholi).

There are ancient stone mills also on the property. There’s also a small museum that exhibits pictures and icons, among which are the icons of St. John the Theologian, from the 16th century, and St. Nicholas, from the 17th century.

The monastery is under the auspices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Open to the public, it produces and sells some of the best wine labels of the island, while also exporting organic olive oil, honey, vinegar and olive oil soap of a very high quality.

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