The Monastery, dedicated to St. John the Theologian, is somehow related to and associated with the Monastery of St. John the Theologian in Patmos. The original establishment was different than the current one. According to tradition, it was constructed after the destruction of the Monastery of St. George in the river mouth of Aposelemis. The facilities of the church of St. George existed until 1942, when the Germans demolished it to use the building materials in fortifications. The writer of the unedited monastery code supports that the monastery was established in 1702. Other resources, such as the translations of the Turkish records of N. Stavrinidis, reveal that the monastery has existed since the first years of the Ottoman Rule. Of course, during the first years of the Ottoman Rule, the establishment of monasteries was practically impossible, since it was forbidden by the Islamic Law. The monastery may have existed since the last years of the Venetian Rule, a historical period when the fear for the Turks made the Venetians more tolerant towards Orthodoxy (1211 – 1669). On 7th May 1757, the church was restored by Abbot Matthew, who is presumably the owner of the monastery, as well. Around 1730 the Monastery became a parish.
The original Catholicon had been a church of limited dimensions since the Venetian Rule. During the earthquake in 1856, both the church and the rest of the facilities were quite damaged. As a result, a new bigger church was reconstructed in 1858.
During the revolution of 1866 – 1869, the monastery was deserted. The church artifacts and the icons of the Monastery were put aside and the monks fought alongside with the rebels. After the revolution they came back, but the monastery had been looted.
Sometime during the Ottoman Rule, the Monastery had to house also some nuns who lived in the area and were looking for a refuge. For their accommodation, they used the nearest rectory manor of St. John the Theologian, the church of the Assumption of Mary, which, at present, is the cemetery of Anopolis.
In 1896, seven monks lived in the Monastery. At the night of 26th July of the same year, the Turks attacked the Monastery, massacred all the monks, burnt down and destroyed whatever they found in their path. The village and the monastery were completely destroyed. After this looting, the monastery was desolated and for eight whole years it remained uninhabited.
The current form of the monastery is totally different from the original one, as a lot of buildings have been constructed inside the Monastery and a lot of extensions have been made. Next to the few cells of the monks, they had to build some more to accommodate monks who resorted to the Monastery of St. John the Theologian from nearby monasteries. The monastery complex did not follow the form of the other fort-like monasteries. The Catholicon is not built in the center, but on the northwest side of the monastery. It is a single-nave, barrel vaulted church. It contains a mosaic floor, while the entire church is full of icons. The quadrant of the alcove in the sanctuary depicts Platytera (the Wider than the Heavens) and the alcove itself, the Co-Officiating Hierarchs. On the sanctuary arch, the “Hospitality of Abraham” and the “Ascension of Jesus” are depicted, while on the frieze of the east wall, the “Annunciation”. On the main church arch, the illustrations include the scene “Touch me not”, the “Resurrection”, the “Entry into Jerusalem”, the “Baptism”, the “Candlemas”, the “Incredulity of Thomas”, the “Crucifixion”, the “Last Supper”, the “Transfiguration” and the “Birth of Jesus”. The iconostasis is woodcut and decorated with the icons of the Tree of Jesse, Christ the Vine and St. John the Theologian.
On the south of the church, there are buildings adjusted to the sloping ground. On the north, there are three tombs, which belong to Archimandrite Gregory Aspetakis, Archimadrite Timotheos Papadakis and the monk Ioakeim Avgerinakis.
In the Monastery, there is a painting of Antonios Alaxandridis that shows the look of the monastery during the last years of the previous century. There used to be an olive-oil press, located on the west of the Catholicon, from which there are still remnants. . On the same spot, there was also the first school that operated in the Monastery after 1840. At present, most buildings are contemporary.
In 1904, the monk Callinicos Daskalakis came back to Anopolis from Agarathos, where he had found shelter and, along with other monks, he tried to rerun the Monastery. Since then, the monastery has been functional non-stop.
The visitors are deeply impressed by the majestic church of St. John (Agios Ioannis), which is next to the old church; it’s newer and is 33m. long.
Architecture: single-nave barrel vaulted
Dating: establishment 17th century, after a lot of destructions it re-operated at the beginning of the 20th century
Location: Anopolis – St. John the Theologian – south of the village
Celebration: 8th May
Access: Easy access from a country road
Visit Options: Open