The Ascetic Tradition in Crete


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 Goumenospilios and counted how many of them survived each year.

Church of Panagia at Kapetaniana

Kapetaniana village is located on the site of the former Monastery of the “Lord Have Mercy”, one of the most important centers in Crete for monasticism where arts and culture flourished. During the Ottoman Era the monastery was abandoned.


Filagris Monastery at Lousoudi

The ruined monastery of the Three Hierarchs is located at one of the most inhospitable areas of Crete, at position Lousoudi of the wild Asterousia Mountains. It was founded in the 14th century near the peak of Kofinas, at an altitude of 880m.


Saint Kiriaki church at Agiofarago

The cavernous chapel of Agia Kyriaki is located at the site of a former Minoan sanctuary. The main characteristic of the temple are the various loops inside the temple, on which the hermits and monks tied themselves during praying so as not to fall asleep. Another explanation for the existence of these loops is that during the years of the Arab rule, the cave was used as a prison and place of torture.


Temple of Michael Archangel, Kapetaniana

A few meters east of Ano Kapetaniana, on the road leading to Agios Ioannis, we meet the large single-room temple of Archangel Michael. While externally it looks like a modern church, inside the visitor will be impressed by the frescoes dating back to the Venetian period. Despite the damage they have suffered by time, this is still a superb specimen of that period. On the walls we also see engravings by various travelers of the era.


Panagia Vithanos church at Krotos

The cave church of Panagia at Vithanos is located in a panoramic position of the Loutra Gorge, near the village of Krotos. It is dedicated to Zoodochos Pigi (Life Giving Spring) and one can still see the date 20-5-1765 above the entrance.


Church of Saint Andrew by Odigitria monastery

The church of Saint Andrew is located at location Kaka Pila and was built in the 14th-15th century and is a dependency of Panagia Odigitria Monastery near Sivas. It bears frescoes in good condition.


North Agios Nikitas

At Asterousia Mountains, because of the very low rainfalls, the existence of a spring of water played a key role during the selection of places to develop settlements. Such a small settlement, in which the existence of springs favored its development was the settlement Goulis Metohi, known to the shepherds mainly a North Agios Nikitas.


Panagia Gorgoipikoos church at Pigaidakia

The church of Panagia Gorgoepikoos is located at the territory of the village Pigaidakia, near the beginning of the stream that ends on Karavovrissi beach in Kali Limenes. Today only the temple is preserved from the complex that till the beginning of the 20th century was a small monastery.


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