Paliani Convent

Heraklion, Greece

Paliani is one of the oldest convents on Crete, situated south of Venerato village and built on top of the ruins of an ancient temple, as confirmed by the capitals located in the courtyard of the convent.

The convent is dedicated to the Dormition of Mother Mary and has been in operation since the first centuries of the Byzantine Empire, reaching its prime during the Venetian era. During the era of Ottoman rule, the convent was a victim of unprecedented savagery by the Ottomans, as it was set on fire and only three of the 70 nuns survived. The convent was renovated in the late 19th century and a new period of flourishing followed.

One of the most important elements of Paliani Convent is the Agia Myrtia, a centuries-old myrtle situated south of the Catholicon, which is celebrated on September 23, as the icon of the Virgin Mary was found at its trunk, according to tradition. This is certainly another case of survival of the ancient worship of trees, which flourished on Crete during the Minoan era.

The convent church is a three-aisled basilica and is one of the oldest on Crete. Around the church, there are ruins of older churches from the first and second Byzantine era. Marble sections, columns, capitals, granite designs and inscriptions survive. The aisles of the church are separated by marble columns and capitals decorated with Byzantine depictions.

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Paliani, Heraklion, Greece
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Founded: 7th century AD
Category: Religious sites in Greece

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