The external courtyard features the winepress, the warehouses and the stable, while the monks’ cells, the catholicon and the reservoirs are situated in the internal courtyard. The catholicon is a single-spaced arch-covered church with an ogival arch and a dressed stone belfry which – according to the inscription – dates back to 1618. Apart from the catholicon, there is another, smaller church dedicated to Saint Lazarus, which was built during the era of Venetian rule.
During the 17th century, a school of hagiography was in operation here. The Ottomans sacked and torched the monastery after the revolution of 1821, destroying relics and books from the Venetian era. In 1844, the monastery was renovated and began operating once more. There are multiple beaches and the also lovely Monastery of Kardamoutsas nearby. This is a male monastery dedicated to Timios Stavros (Holy Cross) and surrounded by massive oak trees. Visitors can choose to hike the gorge of Havga near Plaka, not to be confused with gorges of the same name in the Lassithi plateau or the one near Thripti mountain range.
If you haven’t had the chance yet, a visit to the town of Agios Nikolaos is highly recommended. One of the most picturesque towns in East Crete and the capital of the Lassithi Prefecture, this is a lovely coastal town, with a cosy port, popular luxury resort hotels and stunning beaches. The eastern region of Crete, including Agios Nikolaos and the cape of Elounda, is a quieter and more intimate setting for your Greek holidays, where visitors enjoy laid back days spent on the beach, shopping and dining at waterfront restaurants. Afterwards, you can drive south for a visit to the ancient city of Lato; one of the most important Dorian city-states of Crete. The drive from the village of Kritsa towards the plateau of Katharo is one of the impressive landscapes on the island. Hiking and nature enthusiasts will find a variety of trails and paths crossing through gorges, and stopping by small churches and archaeological sites.