Heybeliada - The Monastery of St. George (Hagios Georgios tou Kremnou)

The monastery of St. George (Hagios Georgios tou Kremnou) is a pink complex on the shore south of the village, just beyond the Navy’s ordu evi (officers’ club). The appellation "tou Kremnou," or "on the cliff," stems from the fact that it is built on a bluff above the sea. The setting is quite beautiful, with pines, cypresses and other trees embowering the picturesque buildings of the monastery above the blue Marmara, a scene reminiscent of the Aegean isles of Greece.

The monastery is believed to have been founded in the years 1583-93. The Reverend John Covel visited the monastery in 1677. As he notes in his diary for 26 February of that year: "There is another monastery here, dedicated to St. George. It is decimated and under [the metopolitan of] Chalcedon. There are bookes there too, but I judging they were much of the same stuff, did not take the paines of seeing it." The English traveller Richard Pococke, who visited the island in 1739, remarked that Greeks from Istanbul took refuge in the monastery of St. George during times of plague.

The patriarch Ioannikos (r. 1761-3) retired to the monastery of St. George after his term of office in the Patriarchate. He had already built a new katholikon in the monastery, dedicating it in memory of his father, Georgios Karatzas, according to an inscription set into the wall. Ioannikos also founded a "school for mutual instruction" dedicated to the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, making the monastery a metochion of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, as it remains today.

The katholikon was damaged by a fire in 1882, which destroyed the old wooden iconostasis and all of its icons, as well as the liturgical furniture. Most of the icons that one sees now in the church are modern Russian works. The only notable icon of earlier date is in the narthex. This is an icon of St. George painted in 1764 by an anonymous monk and dedicated to the patriarch Ioannikos, who is buried in the narthex.

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