Religious monuments of Crete


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 or Melecha 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.

Arkoudospilios Cave

Arkoudospilios (Bear Cave) or the Cave of Panagia Arkoudiotissa is located in Avlaki gorge of Akrotiri (Chania), 2km north of the Gouvernetou monastery, in the gorge connecting Gouvernetou with Katholiko Monastery. The cave is known for the bear-shaped rock that made the cave a place of worship of the ancient goddess Artemis.


Katholiko Monastery

Katholiko monastery is located 20km east of Chania, near the northern shores of Cape Akrotiri. It is located near the exit of the gorge Avlaki, at a short distance from the sea.


Monastery of Saint John the Merciful at Pazinos

The monastery of St. John the Merciful (Agios Ioannis Eleimon) is located very close to Chania airport, south of the village Pazinos or Gagalado. The monastery, which operated as a dependency of Gouverneto monastery was fortified and its walls are preserved in excellent condition.


Agios Nikolaos church at Souda

There was a monastery of St. Nicolas on the islet of Souda, before it was fortified. The islet was then called "Fraronisi" (Fraros or Floros is a Catholic monk in Greek) until it was fortified, when it was renamed "Souda" after the gulf. The imposing temple of monastery of Agios Nikolaos is still surviving and is worth a visit.


Saint Anthony monastery at Akrotiri

The unknown monastery of St. Anthony at Akrotiri, deserted today, lies near the Monastery Gouverneto, from where a path starts. The monastic complex with the cavernous chapel of St Anthony wasof exquisite architecture, but today endures the abandonment and is left in the hands of the shepherds who use it as a pen!


Saint George Harodias monastery at Perivolia

Very close to Perivolia province, Chania, you will find the deserted and almost unknown monastery of Saint George Harodia. The monastery was built on 12th century by a local rich lord of Chania. The monastery operated as a men’s monastery till the mid of the 20th century, when it was abandoned. Today you will still find the monk cells and the church of Saint George.


Saint Eleftherios monastery at Mournies

The abandoned monastery of Agios Eleftherios at Mournies is a dependency of Chrysopigi monastery and is located near the General Hospital of Chania, among olive groves, houses and a school. Here was baptized the most important modern Greek politician, Eleftherios Venizelos.


Agios Nikolaos Dominican Monastery

The grand Temple of the monks of the Dominican Order in Chania was built in about 1320 by the fraternity of Candia. Its architecture resembles the one of the Central Temple of Aghios Petros. The original monastery, as portrayed in old maps, images and descriptions, consisted of the temple with a high bell-tower and a two-floor arcade on the north side. The church was a basilica with a central aisle.


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