Cretans believe that somewhere in Jiouktas Mountain lived once the Apostle Paul. Indeed, within walking distance from the church of Christ at Giouchtas there are the remains of a very interesting building that is connected to the hermitage of Saint Paul. This building has three floors and is built on a rough and non-visible site of a very steep cliff, at an altitude of 600 meters. The lower level consists of a cave that is believed to have served as a temple.
The building has suffered great damage and was in danger of collapsing, before restoration works started in 2023. It is believed that the building was originally the cells for the Catholic nuns of the Monastery of Christ, one can still follow the steep trail leading to the church of Christ. It later served as an Orthodox monastery, while during the great revolution of 1866 the Turks killed the blind monk Kyriakos, who lived here.
The cells can be accessed by the steep downhill trail starting next to the church of Afendis Christos. Moreover, by car you can go around Jiouktas, “targeting” the white chapel of Christ, and the cells are just beneath and slightly north of it. You can leave the car at the nearest place and approach carefully.
According to biologist Kaloust Paragamian, the cave also has paleontological significance. It was once a sea cave that was subsequently filled with sediments that were stabilized with calcite material. When the cells were built, the cave became a storehouse (the inner room), and the sediments were removed. The holes from date shells (lithophaga) were thus revealed, which were preserved precisely because they were covered. The site, which is around 600 meters above sea level, is the highest site with lithophaga holes that has been identified in Crete. In the last 600,000 years the sea level never rose more than 10 meters higher than it is today, but the land was raised and thus the fossils were found at such a high altitude.