At the edge of the plain, in an idyllic valley, is the Monastery of
Ayios Ioannis Prodromos (Saint John the Baptist), popularly known as "Ai
Yiannis in the Plain". It was founded in 1605 and has a rich history which
goes back over 300 years, with an important role in the economic and cultural
life of the island. It is said that the brigand Simos Bounas, or Grivas, was buried
in the monastery's church in 1622.
The Venetians gave much property to the monastery in 1702. The Church
of the Odigitria (Our Lady) became a dependency of the monastery in that period
and a little later fifteen other of the island's churches were given to the monastery.
The monastery of Ayios Ioannis was the island's richest and most populous in the
early 19th century. Today's church is newer, single-aisled with a wooden roof
and a separate area for women. It has exceptional wall-paintings dating from 1736
The south wall has paintings preserved in three registers. The lower
register contains paintings of full-length saints, the middle register has saints
whilst the upper register contains large scenes with many figures and has been
fairly worn away over time. In the west wall are paintings of Ayios Konstantinos,
Ayia Eleni and the Archangel Michael. Two of the episcopal paintings by Tomazos
Tzen of the Cretan school dating to 1753 were stolen in 1965. Next to the monastery
church, set within thick vegetation, is the dilapidated chapel of Ayios Nikolaos.