Religious monuments of Crete


The religious tradition at the province of Kissamos, at the westermost part of Crete, is still deeply ingrained in the daily habits of its inhabitants. Dozens of countryside monasteries and isolated hermitages, deserted today, recount the distant past. The wild and remote peninsulas of Rodopou and Gramvousa hosted many such relegious centers.

Saint John the Theologian church at Elos

The temple of St. John the Theologian is a single-room vaulted temple with dimensions of 11,20 x 4,46 meters. There are no documents for justifying its exact date, however according to the analysis of its murals it should be built around the first half of the 14th century attributed to the hagiographer Ioannis Pagomenos.


Saint George Church at Nopigia

The church of St. George near the ruins of the Roman baths at Nopigia is a single-aisled vaulted church of the 9th century built probably on the ruins of a Roman temple. The orientation of the Church is from north to south, rare for Christian churches (they are usually built with orientation from east to west). The church bears frescoes of the 14th-15th century.


Saint John monastery at Gramvousa

At one of the most remote spots of Crete, the peninsula of Gramvousa, operated the small monastery of St. John, which is dedicated to the decapitation of John the Baptist.


Saint George Church at Kanavas

The deserted village of Kanavas, province Kissamos, is located on the eastern slope of the hill of Profitis Ilias and is accessible through a dirt road starting from the village Zachariana. Next to the bed of the river passing below the settlement is the church of Saint George, which bears frescoes.


Saint John the Hermit Cave at Marathokefala

At the area Marathokefala at Spilia, 25 km west of Chania and just 3 km from Kolymbari, lies the famous historical cave of St. John the Hermit. Inside the cave there is temple of the 15th century and the foundations of old cells that date back in the 17th-18th century.


Hypapante monastery at Habatha

The small monastery of Hypapante (Presentation of Jesus at the Temple) operated at the site of Champatha (Kissamos province), with spectacular views to the surrounding areas. We still see remnants of monk cells and caves where they lived. Above the church, we see the cavernous chapel of Transfiguration of the Christ, accessed only on foot.


Holy Cross monastery at Sirikari

At this point, in a wooded setting, operated a monastery dedicated to the Holy Cross. Today the monastery is not operating. The icons in the temple date back from 1886 (painter Papadakis from Rodopou) and the iconostasis from 1883.


Christ Church at Tsourouniana

Just south of the village Tsourouniana of province Kissamo we meet the ruined church of Christ. The area is called Katalimata (Lodges) as indeed in this area there are remains of an ancient settlement with piles of stones and shells of ancient ceramic vases scattered around. In Katalimata there is also the deserted and destroyed today church of St. Demetrius. The church of Christ is a small, single-aisled vaulted church which should be built in the Venetian period.


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