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.
The Monastery of St. George Apanosifis or Epanosifis is located about 30km south of Heraklion, near Metaxohori village. It is the largest male monastery in Crete (in monk number). The spiritual and social contribution of the monastery during the difficult years of Turkish occupation was invaluable.
Agios Nikitas is located 65km south of Heraklion, on the east side of the wild and arid Asterousia Mountains. The monastery was originally a hermitage for monks from the monastery of Koudoumas. It is built on a high hill with breathtaking views to the Libyan Sea. The church of the monastery, dedicated to St. Nikitas (feast September 15), is built in a cave and dates back in 1640.
Koudoumas monastery is located at the exit of Katarraktis gorge in Asterousia Mountains, 80km south of Iraklion and only 40m from a beautiful beach. It is one of the most secluded monasteries of Crete, as access from Heraklion requires 2.5 hours. There is a safe 24km long dirt road that starts from the village Sternes (accessible from Charakas), at an altitude of 1000m near the peak Kofinas (1231m).
The church of Panagia Almyri (Salty Virgin Mary) belongs to the parish of Megali Vrissi and is one of the largest pilgrimages of Messara Plain. Especially, on the celebration day of the church (feast of Ascension) hundreds of people flock from all corners of Crete.
The church of Panagia Kardiotissa is located at the green position Panagia, close to Agios Thomas village. It overlooks the river Axedianos and in winter wateralls are formed at the edge of the churchyard, making it a unique landscape.
The small single-nave church of St. Anthony Eunuch is well hidden in a wooded location of Agios Thomas, next to Domaine Stratakis. The temple dates back from the Venetian Era and bears no frescoes.
The church of St. John is located at a wooded location amid oaks near the village Roukani and is one of the most historical Byzantine monuments of Crete. The church dates back from the 11th-12th century and possibly operated as a monastery dedicated to St. John the Theologian. Today the church is dedicated to St. John the Baptist.
The double aisled Church of the Holy Apostles and St Peter and Paul is located at the foot of Tholi Hill, with the homonym fort, and belonged to the Venetian family of Cornaro. It was built in the 15-16th century and still hosts two arcosoliums (tomb monuments) inside and outside the church (bearing the inscription 1614).