The Monastery of

Gouverneto

Chania

Gouverneto monastery
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Gouverneto or Gderneto Monastery is located 19km east of Chania, on the north side of the Cape Akrotiri of Chania, near the monastery of Agia Triada Tzagarolon. It can be accessed through the Agia Triada, where there is a sign leading to the Gouverneto.

It is situated on a rocky site at an altitude of 260m, near the entrance of the gorge Avlaki and is built with fortress architecture and four towers with bastions protect its corners. The Gouverneto monastery was built before 1537, as proved by an inscription at the entrance of the fortress, being one of the oldest monasteries in Crete. It is believed that the monastery was founded by hermits and monks of the seaside Katholiko Monastery, who may built the new monastery over a pre-existing ancient temple so as to protect themselves from pirate raids.

The church of the monastery is dedicated to Virgin Mary, so it is also called Kyria ton Agelon (Lady of the Angels Monastery). It has a cruciform shape with a dome, while the entrance is decorated with relief representations of monsters. It was started being built during the Venetian Era, but the construction finished 2.5 centuries later, as the Turks invaded Crete and forbid building Christian temples.

Around the church of the monastery, which is located in the center of the courtyard, there are the other buildings of the complex. Among them are 50 monk cells in two floors, the dining room, a small museum, etc. Also, next to the church there are two chapels dedicated to Agii Deka (Saints Ten) and Saint John the Hermit.

St. John the Hermit lived in a cave in the gorge Avlaki, adjacent to the monastery, and is considered as the founder of the monastery. You can walk in Avlaki gorge by following the stone paved trail that descends to the sea. After 20 minutes of descent you will meet the Arkoudospilio Cave, and after a while the ruined monastery Katholiko and the cavernous church of St. John, where the hermit lived. After more 10 minutes, the gorge ends in a narrow rocky fjord with green waters.

The monastery is open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday (9:00 to 12:00 and 17:00 to 19:00) and on weekends (9:00 to 11:00 and 17:00 to 20:00). Also, make sure you are decently dressed, and shorts, swimwear etc. are not allowed.

Timeline

  • 10th century: Saint John Xenos or the Hermit lives in a cave in Avlaki Gorge and founds the nearby Katholiko monastery.
  • 1027: After his death, many hermits come and live in Katholiko Monastery.
  • 16th - 17th century: Due to the constant pirate raids, the monks abandoned the monastery of Katholiko and came to Gouverneto, far from the sea.
  • 1537: The fortress walls of the monastery Gdernetou are built, as proved by the inscription on the lintel of the monastery.
  • 1593: The monk Mitrophanis Fasidonis, a former sailor, settles in the monastery and contributes in its prosperity.
  • 1632: The Orthodox Church recognizes St. John Xenos or Hermit as Saint. This causes the tremendous growth of the monastery, as the region is linked to the Saint. The construction of the main temple starts.
  • 1645: During the occupation of Crete by the Turks, the monastery houses 60 monks, but soon the monastery will decline. Later, it becomes Stavropegic (managed directly by Patriarcate) so as ensure its property.
  • 1818: The Monastery has 50 monks and 230.000 olive trees (!) at its possession.
  • 1821: During the Great Revolution, the monastery is destroyed by the Turks. Seven monks are slaughtered in their effort to escape to the monastery of Agia Triada.
  • 1831-40: During the period of Egyptian occupation, the monastery flourishes.
  • 1866-69: The abbot Misael acts as intermediary between the rebels and the consular forces of Russia and Greece.
  • 1894: The construction of the temple is completed, 250 years after its start, as the Turks grant license to build a Christian temple.
  • 1935: The monastery is declared preservable.
  • 1941-44: During the German occupation, the Germans install guards and cause severe damages.
  • 2005: Extensive restoration works start.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Chania Prefecture
  • Type: Monastery
  • Peak Period: Venetian Era (1204 AD - 1669 AD)
  • Accessibility: Paved road
  • Phone: +30 2821063319

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