Religious monuments of Kissamos


Saint John monastery at Gionas
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The monastery of Saint John (Agios Ioannis) is located at peninsula Rodopou or Spatha, 37km northwest of Chania and 9.5km away from the village Rodopou, at a small plateau named Gionas. With the nearby former monastery of Saints Peter and Paul (Agios Pavlos), a few kilometers to the south, they flourished during the late Venetian Era. After the conquest of Crete by the Turks in 1669 both monasteries were handed to the monastery Hodeghetria Gonia at Kolimbari, which then gained several smaller monasteries as dependencies in to its possession.

The monastery is mentioned in the cencus of the churches and monasteries of the year 1637 as the monastery of Saint John Hionas (San Juane sto Chiona). Another option tells that the monastery was aone of the hermitages belonging to the adjacent monastery of Saint Paul.

The temple was built in the 16th century as a single-aisled church and gradually expanded into a two-aisled church, although 12th-century vessels and coins have been found in a small cistern inside the temple. The second aisle is dedicated to Saint Nicholas (Agios Nikolaos) and celebrates on December 6. Around there are ruins of buildings from the cells of the monks, while from two millstones surviving in the area it seems that an olive mill operated here. In 1995, during maintenance works, 7 graves were found, under the floor, probably of priests and monks.

There are too many legends and stories of miracles for Saint John monastery. That is why every year, on August 29, when the monastery at Gionas celebrates on the feast day of Saint John, pilgrims arrive from all over the island to leave their offerings and stay in the guesthouses. The liturgy on August 29 in Gionas is always held at night; it starts at 2.00 a.m. and ends at about 5.00 in the morning.

For the plane tree of Gionas outside the temple, the unique platan in Cape Rodopou, a legend says that the monk of the monastery once brought a branch from Nopigia. When he returned exhausted from the hot sun, he nailed the stick into the dry ground and said: "if the Saint (meaning Saint John) is miraculous, this stick will grow"..

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Additional Info

  • Location: Chania Prefecture
  • Type: Monastery
  • Accessibility: Dirt track
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