Monastery of Saint John Baptist by Korakies
The Monastery of St. John the Baptist is built in position Korakies of Akrotiri, close to the airport of Chania. It is a historic convent which is relatively unknown in Chania.
The monastery has been destroyed several times by the various conquerors of Crete and thus valuable documents that could help in accurate dating of the monastery foundation were lost. It is believed however that it was initially founded before the Fall of Constantinople (1453) in the coastal area of Agia Kyriaki, in Halepa suburb of Chania. However, later, when the constant pirate raids of the Arabs started, the nuns moved to a safer place, on the hill of St. Matthew and later they moved to the current position.
The monastery is surrounded by a tall wall and its main entrance is minimal, compared with the rest monasteries of Akrotiri. In the middle of the verdant enclosure, you will see the two-aisled church of St. John the Baptist (celebr. 29 August) and St. George (23 April), surrounded by the humble cells and the rest buildings of the monastery. The icons of the monastery have been drawn by the nuns. Also, there are the small chapels of St. Andrew the Cretan and Panagia Portaitissa.
A remarkable Housekeeping School operated in the monastery, at the current museum position, which immediately gained a great reputation throughout the island. Indeed, the nuns sewed the wedding dress of the Greek Queen, Olga, in 1867.
History in short
- A’ Byzantine Period: The convent is founded in Halepa, today located at the ruins of the monastery of Agia Kyriaki.
- 15th-16th century: Due to the constant pirate raids, the nuns move to the hill of St. Matthew and later to Korakies.
- 17th Century: Before the conquest of Crete by the Turks in 1645, both monasteries of St. Matthew and Korakies operate. The monastery in Korakies was also known as the Monastery of St. John Vitas.
- 1645: The Turks destroy the monastery of St. Matthew and the nuns move to Korakies monastery.
- 1821: The Turks destroy the monastery and slaughter most nuns. The monastery becomes a dependency of Gouverneto monastery.
- 1867: The monastery starts in reoperation as an independent monastery after 46 years of desolation and gets restored. The nuns Christonymfi and Katafygi take part in the revolution of 1866-69.
- 1890: The abbey has about 20 nuns.
- 1896: During the great massacres of the Turks in Chania, the nuns find refuge in the male monasteries of Agia Triada and Gouverneto. The Turks reach the monastery, but do not manage to burn it, as they get stopped by the Cretan rebels.
- 1897: The nuns return to the monastery and restore it.
- 1903: The nun Minodora founds the Housekeeping School of Lady Egerton, which trained many girls from Chania.
- 1941: During the Battle of Crete, Korakies area was occupied by Englishmen. The Germans bombard the area and two bombs explode inside the monastery, fortunately causing only material damage to nuns’ cells.
- 1941-1944: The Housekeeping School ceases its operation and the Germans use the monastery as a hospital, forcing the nuns to help them.
- 1980: The monastery gets renovated and the museum of the monastery is founded.