The male monastery of Agios Georgios Epanosifis is one of the most important monasteries in Crete for its spiritual and social offer.
The monastery is 30 kilometers from Heraclion, at about the centre of the Cretan prefecture and of Crete generally.
The monastery was built in the last period of the Venetian occupation and was so famous that, later, became the largest pilgrimage in Crete. The precise date of its establishment is still unknown.
The most important account on the establishing of the monastery is that of Deacon Iakovos written on the 26th of January 1864. In his text, “ Diigis” (i.e. narration), he refers to the establishing of the monastery by a monk, Paisios, who had begun from the Apezana monastery in order to to go to the Agarathos monastery, because of internal quarrels. He spent the night in the property of Laguvardos, near Kako Chorio (the today village of Metaxochori) and there he built the Epanosifis monastery after the intervention of Agios Georgios (St John) himself.
The name Epanosifis was given by Laguvardos, lord of the area, for whom two shepherds, both named Sifis, worked. For distinguishing them, he gave the names Epano (i.e. up) and Kato (i.e. down) Sifis. And so the name, Agios Georgios Epanosifis, was set. According to tradition, the grassland of Kato- Sifis was the village Charaki, where an old church of Agios Georgios is.
The activity and the contribution of the monastery during the Turkish occupation is very important with many written stories about then. It should be mentioned that many travelers and sufferers of Crete found shelter in the monastery.
In Agios Georgios Epanosifis monastery there was a school and a quite large library. In the monastery, many scholar monks were living, who were book transcribers, hymnographers or teachers.
During the 1821 revolution, 18 monks were murdered and are honored as new martyrs of the Church. Afterwards, for some time, the monastery was desolated.
After the earthquake in 1156, the church of Agios Georgios collapsed and the monastery was left without a cathedral. After a permit from the Sublime Port, the temple was repaired in 1863.
Epanosifis monastery is celebrated twice a year. On the 23rd of April in the memory of the martyrdom of Agios Georgios and on the 3rd of November in the Anakomidi (i.e. the carrying) of the relics of Agios Georgios.
In the monastery there is a church sacristy with sacred relics of faith and homeland like icons, vestments, manuscripts etc. In there, many pieces of relics of Agios Georgios, Agia Ekaterini, Ieros Chrisostomos, Agios Nektarios, Agios Methodios of Crete etc are kept.
At last, a very fabulous and large man-made forest starts from the area of the monastery.