Religious Monuments of Monofatsi


Panagia Almiri monastery
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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 and stay in the guesthouses around the temple. Panagia Almyri is associated with childless women who ask for her help to conceive a child. In fact, there are many cases where these women eat a piece of the Panagia's candle to get help.

The tradition reads that the church was founded in the early Christian Era, when the Apostle Paul preached Christianity at the point where the church is located today. The lord of Phaestus then, raged by the presence of Paul, sent his son to challenge Paul to hit his stick on a rock and make the rock flow salty water. Indeed, once hit, salty water came out from the rock and the son later became a hermit in a nearby cave (now housing the church of Saint Paraskevi). Around the salty spring the church was built.

The church originally had, during the Byzantine Period, a single aisle with a wooden roof, which was destroyed during the Venetian occupation, when it was rebuilt with a vaulted roof and frescoed during the 13th century. Later, during the 14th century, the second aisle we see today (the south) was built, which was also frescoed, and encloses the well with the brackish spring. Today, both aisles dedicated to the Ascension and the Nativity of Mary are preserved, but the frescoes are preserved in fragments. In the old aisle there are scenes of the evangelical cycle and the cycle of the Virgin Mary (e.g. Anna and Mary, Dormition of the Mother of God).

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Church
  • Accessibility: Paved road

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