Saints Peter and Paul monastery


Saints Peter and Paul monastery at Rodopos
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The Monastery of Peter and Paul (Agios Pavlos) is located at peninsula Spatha or Rodopou, 40km northwest of Chania and 12.5 km from the village Rodopou; it can be accessed through a bad dirt road starting from Rodopou. With the monastery of Saint John at Gionas, a few kilometers to the north, it flourished during the late Venetian rule. Just after the occupation of Crete by the Turks the monasteries became a dependency of the powerful Hodeghetria Gonia monastery at Kolimbari.

The monastery is not listed in the census of the churches and monasteries of the year 1637 and the evidence for its historical development is minimal. According to tradition, the frescoed church is built on the site of an older monastery. In the area there are still buildings of the monastery complex: the Church of Saint Paul, a stone vaulted warehouse with two cisterns, the abbot house (igoumenion), an old olive mill, ruins scattered around the temple, and a two pottery warehouses. The church is a stone building with dome, coated with Byzantine ceramics.

The frescoes date back from the end of the 14th century and belong to a folk painter, who follows the trends of the Macedonian school of Hagiography, while the frescoes of saints and gospel scenes in the extension to the west back from  the middle of the 15th century and are attributed to the skilled painter Pavlos Provatas. However, they are quite damaged by the passage of time, salt, moisture, Crusaders and other passersby; the traces of the swords of the Crusaders are met in various parts of the church, recording the historical moments. The murals are covered by many carvings of names and dates with the most important being "1607, the last day of October we are here: Mr. Nikolaos Priouli, me John Kiontzas, Doctor of Law and the faithful Francis with many Saints, forty in number". 

Along with the church of Saint John Gionas, it formed a single monastic complex, where the beach of the monastery of Saint Paul served as the harbor, the hub of communication and contact through sea routes (there were no roads reaching the place). The carvings of the crusaders on the frescoes reveal the importance of this monastic center as one of the channels of communication between the West and the Middle East. According to tradition the Apostle Paul passed from this point, while traveling to Rome.

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Additional Info

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

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