The seaside Monastery of Panagia Odigitria is located at the base of the peninsula Spatha, about 26km west of Chania and 2.5km north of Kolimbari. The monastery is also known as Lady of the Angels Monastery of Gonia (Gonia = Corner) due to its location on the western edge-corner of the bay of Chania.
The monastery was founded at this position in the 17th century and soon flourished as a rich monastic tradition was developed in Spatha and the monks soon gathered in Gonia. Gonia Monastery played an important role in local history. It has always been a shelter for the rebels of Crete and, thus, it was destroyed many times by the various conquerors. This is also witnessed by a canon ball stuck in the east wall.
The initial church of the 14th century is located in the current cemetery, near the present monastery complex. The complex is surrounded by a tall wall, resembling a Venetian castle. The temple is dedicated to the Virgin Hodhegetria (celebr. 15 August). All around there are several other buildings of the monastery (monk cells, abbey, dining room, stores, cellars, etc.). The monastery also houses the Orthodox Academy of Crete, gym, pool, schools, county court, etc. In the museum of the monastery you can see some very old icons (such these of Constantine Palaiokapas).
Great personalities served as monastery abbots. Among them was Misael Apostolidis, the Greek language teacher of the Greek King Otto and the first rector of the University of Athens. Others were Joachim Tzagarolos, Parthenios Kelaidis and Parthenios Pieridis.
- 9th century: Hermits found the monastery of Saint George (Agios Georgios) in Menies on the site of the ancient sanctuary of Diktynna.
- 13th century: Because of the constant pirate raids, the monks of St. George move to the current position of the cemetery and found the first monastery of Panagia.
- 1618: The monk Vlasios founds the new monastery of Gonia in its current position.
- 1645: The Turks occupy the monastery during the siege of Chania.
- 1652: The Turks destroy the monastery.
- 1662: The monastery becomes stavropegic, i.e. directly managed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
- 1708: The fountain is constructed.
- 1822: The abbot Parthenios Raspanis joins the Society of Friends (the most important secret Greek Revolutionary organization that prepared the Greek Revolution of 1821). The Turks capture and imprison Pathenios. The monks move the relics to liberated Greece and the monastery gets deserted.
- 1831-41: During the Egyptian Era, the monk Parthenios Froudakis reconstructs the monastery.
- 1841: The monastery houses rebel groups and is destroyed in retaliation by the Turks.
- 1849: The imposing belfry is built.
- 1850: Parthenios Pierides (or Captain Priest) comes to the monastery of Gonia. He later organizes the revolution of 1866 in western Crete and becomes the leaded of the General Assembly of the Cretans.
- 1854: Parthenios Kelaidis comes to the monastery. He prepares the Great Revolution of 1866 and is starring in all the movements till 1905. In 1905, he dies in Syros, excommunicated by the Greek Holy Synod because he supports Eleftherios Venizelos.
- 1867: The Turks destroy the monastery again. The cannon ball we see on the wall, dates back to this attack.
- 1897: The last important Cretan revolution before the autonomy of Crete in 1898 starts from the beach of the monastery of Gonia. 1500 men disembark here, led by Timoleontas Vassos and declare the liberation of Crete "in the name of the King of Greece."
- 1935: The monastery of Gonia is declared preservable.
- 1941: Before the occupation of Crete by the Germans, Englishmen engineers of the airport of Maleme are hosted here. The monks take part in the Battle of Crete.
- 1941-44: The Germans occupy the monastery. The monks are imprisoned in Chania prisons, after the Germans find guns inside the chapel. The monastery is looted.
- 1968: The Orthodox Academy of Crete is founded.