One of my favourite destinations during our trip to the island of Chios was the Monastery of Aghios Minas. It was on the top of a hill, with an incredible view over the island and the sea, but the best part was inside. The monastery was founded in the 16th century, but now is home to only a handful of nuns. When we arrived, it wasn’t clear whether it was open (no signs) and the door was locked, but we rang a bell, waited, and ultimately decided we wouldn’t be able to get in. Just as we were turning to leave, the door opened a crack and a tiny (tiny!) nun in black beckoned us in. Hospitable and welcoming, she gave us a tour and some history of the place.
The history of the monastery is quite grim – or at least it was the site of a bloody massacre in 1822, when islanders had gathered at the Church for Easter, and then the church was set on fire. (This was during the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire – Chios is I think around 9 miles from Turkey, so the island suffered a lot. See Delacroix’s The Massacre at Chios.)
Despite its history, the Monastery was a beautiful and tranquil escape – I think there were maybe four nuns in total, and our guide was very interested in telling us everything she knew. She also offered us food (although we declined..)