The nunnery of Paliani is located at an altitude of 280m, next to the village Venerato, 20km north of Heraklion at the exit of Venerato Gorge. The monastery is dedicated to the Assumption and celebrates on August 15.
The monastery of Paliani is considered one of the oldest monasteries in Crete, but the exact date of its establishment is unknown. The name is associated with the name Palia Moni (Old Monastery). However, there is a second version, according to which the name Paliani is linked to Apolonia, an ancient city that was located very close to Venerato.
The monastery was patriarchal and for several periods it had enormous wealth and many dependencies (smaller monasteries and churches). Especially during the Ottoman period, Paliani struggled to survive, as it was destroyed by the Turks and the nuns were massacred. The nuns restored it very quickly and since then it is classified in the richest monasteries in Crete.
The main church is a basilica with three aisles dedicated to the Assumption (celebr. 15 August), the Three Hierarchs (30 January) and St. Panteleimon (27 July). Also there’s a small chapel of the Holy Apostles (30 June). The temple is supported by ancient columns of Byzantine style with acanthus leaves, parts of which are scattered in the monastery. Generally, you will see marble parts scattered everywhere belonging to the Byzantine era. Today the monastery has been altered considerably.
The temple is surrounded by the nun cells and auxiliary rooms, while the visitor can still discern traces of the fortress wall that protected Paliani. Paliani also owns the very old Byzantine church of St. John with frescoes of the 14th century. The monastery operates a museum with icons, relics and several books of great historical and archaeological value. The monastery is open from sunrise to sundown to everyone.