The Cretan Tradition of

Asceticism

The arrival of St. John the Hermit in Crete of the Early Christian Times was the beginning of a great ascetic tradition that continues to the present day. Hundreds of hermits secluded in the most remote parts of the island, forming ascetic communities that later evolved to thriving monasteries. Hundreds of countryside monasteries, most of which don't operate today, are dispersed throughout the island.

A special sample of hermitage is the Monastery Katholiko at Akrotiri Cape in the caves of which hermits lived their monastic life away, from worldly pleasures. Equally important were the religious sites of the secluded peninsulas Gramvousa and Rodopos, where several small monasteries developed.

The greatest hermitage of all was the naturally isolated, and impassable range of Asterousia in southern Heraklion. Hundreds of caves from Saint Nikitas to Cape Lithino still host hermits. Relations between them were so limited that in Agiofarago and Martsalo they gathered only once a year, in cave Goumenospilio and counted how many of them survived each year.

In eastern Crete, the north province of Mirabello is the largest field of asceticism with dozens of small monastic establishments. Here hermits built small monasteries, where they usually lived alone.

Show Map

Religious Monuments of Asterousia Mountains
The greatest hermitage in Crete was the naturally isolated, and impassable range of Asterousia in current southern Heraklion prefecture, where Saint Paul is said to have stayed for two years. Many caves from Saint Nikitas to Cape Lithino still host hermits. Relations between them were so limited that in Agiofarago and Martsalo they gathered only once a year, in cave Goumenospilio and counted how many of them survived each year.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Mirabello
The province of Mirabello hosted small monasteries with the greatest density than any other region of Crete. It is characteristic that in the small area of Upper (Ano) Mirabello, i.e. the mountainous area north of Neapolis, over 20 small monasteries were developed. Unlike other areas of Crete, where asceticism was developed in caves, here we meet mostly small monasteries where 2-3 monks lived together. Indeed, many current settlements in Upper Mirabello were originally developed...
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Pediada
The province of Pediada hosts one of the most important religious parks in Crete, with numerous painted temples and deserted monasteries scattered all around. Prominent in number and aesthetic value of monuments is the area around today's Episkopi, which was the seat of the Diocese.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Kydonia
The province of Kydonia, i.e. the wider area of current Chania city, hosted a large number of monasteries and hermitages. Especially the isolated and inhospitable Cape Akrotiri was home to dozen monks and hermits who lived a strict monastic life in caves and small convents, following the footsteps of Saint John the Hermit. Unlike Akrotiri, the fertile plane around Chania hosted many monasterial dependencies owing very large areas of olive groves and vineyards.
Read more...

Religious Monuments at Malevizi
The province of Malevizi at the eastern foothills of Psiloritis Range still impresses with its religious monuments and the deserted countryside monasteries. The rugged mountainous terrain has formed a special cultural center.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Messara Plane
Apart from the ascetic Centre of Asterousia Massif, the plane of Messara and the south outskirts of the Ida Range hosted numerous small monasteries, which are today deserted. Here we do not meet many cavernous hermitages, in contrast to Asterousia, but mainly organized small communities.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Kissamos
The religious tradition at the province of Kissamos, at the westermost part of Crete, is still deeply ingrained in the daily habits of its inhabitants. Dozens of countryside monasteries and isolated hermitages, deserted today, recount the distant past. The wild and remote peninsulas of Rodopou and Gramvousa hosted many such relegious centers.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Selino
Saint John the Hermit and the 98 Holy Fathers settled at Selino Province, setting the basis for an exceptional ascetic tradition. Today, the wider area of Selino and Kissamos forms an extended Byzantine Park with several painted temples.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Temenos
The area of Paracandia, as the Venetians called the area around Candia, current town of Heraklion, hosted some important monasteries and hermitages, some of which were built around the small range of Jiouktas. 
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Rethymnon
The province of Rethymnon still hosts a large number of monasteries and inactive convents that mostly flourished during the Venetian Era, i.e. before the Fall of Rethymnon in 1646 by the Ottomans. The area around the current city was a very important religious center.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Milopotamos
The province of Milopotamos hosted many small monasteries and hermitages. The rugged coastline hosted many ascetic centers, which were later moved to the innerland due to the threat of the pirate raids.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Agios Vasilios
At the province of Agios Vasilios we meet mostly small inactive monasteries that today retain only their temples.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Amari
The province of Amari at the foothills of Psiloritis Range and Mount Kentros was a great monastic center, with many countryside monasteries throughout its territory.
Read more...

Religious Monuments at Monofatsi
The province Monofatsi is one of the most important religious centers of Crete, as it hosted many flourishing monasteries and hermitages. Apart from the isolated religious centre of Asterousia Mountains, which we study separately, small monasteries were also scattered throughout the province.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Viannos
The shorelines of province Viannos hosted several small monasteries in the medieval times, most of which were abandoned and destroyed by pirate raids. They then moved to more protected and mountainous positions and the churches of most of them are still in place, yet the monasteries do not operate.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Sfakia
The monasteries that operated in Sfakia province from the First Byzantine Period till the end of the Ottoman Rule, are not entirely known, as there are no many documents surviving commemorating the monasterial map of the heroic province. The evidence to date are limited to monasteries that flourished mainly during the Turkish occupation, which were relatively small. The...
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Apokoronas
The province Apokoronas is dispersed with several painted temples, imposing churches and abandoned countryside monasteries. The most popular monastery, restored lately, is dedicated to Saint George and is located at Karydi.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Sitia
The remote province of Sitia hosted several monasteries and convents, most of which followed the decline of the settlements and are now abandoned, retaining only their temples.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Ierapetra province
The province of Ierapetra has hosted a large number of monasteries that do not operate today, mainly in the mountainous regions of Dikti near the borders with the province of Viannos and in the mountain range of Thripti.
Read more...

Religious Monuments of Lassithi Province
The province of Lassithi and mainly the Plateau of Lassithi did not follow the rapid development of monastic monuments that the rest of Crete faced during the Venetian period. This was mainly due to the evacuation and prohibition of living in the plateau in the early centuries of Venetian rule (1293-1463). Later, a few monasteries were developed, the temples of most are preserved until today.
Read more...

Also read:

Download Free Premium Joomla Templates • FREE High-quality Joomla! Designs BIGtheme.net