Religious Monuments of Pediada

Gouverniotissa

Panagia Gouverniotissa Monastery
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The renovated monastery of Panagia Gouverniotissa is located near the village Potamies, province Pediada, 3km east of Heraklion. It does not function as a monastery, but its church operates normally, while there is also a very elegant canteen and botanical garden, folklore and church exhibition. It is built on a small hill with nice views to Potamies valley.

The church, cruciform with a dome, is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary (Koemisis) and celebrates on August 15, being one of the oldest temples in Crete. It is decorated with great frescoes of 1320 that rank it among the most important temples with frescoes in Crete with artistic influences from Constantinople and western iconography. They include scenes from the Dodekaorton (the twelve most important Feasts of Greek Orthodox Church), such as The Escape to Egypt and Joseph's Dream, the Pantocrator in the dome and scenes from Passion of Jesus, such as Peter's Denial, Christ Elkomenos (Towed), the Mocking of Jesus, etc. There are scenes at the north cross arm from the life of the Virgin Mary and worn representations of some miracles of Jesus, such as the Healing of the Blind and the Healing of the Paralytic at Capernaum.
The most important icons of the monastery, a wooden icon screen and the door of the sanctuary are today exhibited at the Historical Museum of Crete. According to tradition, the monastery was founded by a Byzantine ruler after 961, when Nicephorus Phocas liberated Crete from the Arabs. However, it is believed to have been founded between the years 1350-1400. The monastery once belonged to the family Magafouris, the descendants of which owned Gouverniotissa for many generations. The last descendant donated the monastery to the Holy Sepulchre, and much later the monastery was abandoned.

Today the monastery, except the church, you will see the ruins of the monks’ cells of the 19th century and some old ovens. Moreover, in the area outside the monastery, great concerts take place every summer with some of the best known Greek singers.

Timeline

  • 961: After the liberation of Crete by Nicephorus Phocas, a Byzantine emperor possibly founds the monastery of Panagia Gouverniotissa.
  • 1350-1400: Gouverniotissa area is a fief of the Venetian lord Laurentius Manipero.
  • 1647-1669: During the siege of Candia, the monk Nikolas Magafouris ensures the favor of the Turks. The monastery detaches many private estates and for several generations it is owned by the family of Magafouris.
  • 1826: Michael Magafourakis has no descendants, thus he donates Gouverniotissa to the Holy Sepulchre.
  • 1928: The monastery stops its operation and its estates are distributed to local residents.
  • 2010: A restoration program of the Byzantine frescoes starts.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Heraklion Prefecture
  • Type: Monastery
  • Accessibility: Paved road

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