The monastery of Panagia Chrisoskalitissa is located 72km south of Chania, very close to the magnificent lagoon of Elafonissi. It reminds of an imposing fortress, perched on a 35m high rock with boundless sea views.
The name of the monastery means Our Lady Gold-stepped in Greek. This is taken after one stair out of 98, which, according to tradition, was gold. It is said that only those who really believe in god can still see it. However, another version says that the golden stair was sold by the Patriarchate to solve the economic problems of the monastery during the Turkish Era.
The temple has two aisles dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the Holy Trinity. The exact date of the establishment of the monastery is unknown. Near Chrisoskalitissa there was the monastery of Saint Nicholas (Agios Nikolaos), which operated during the Turkish Period. On the beach, next to the monastery, a small fishing village of the Middle Minoan period has been identified.
According to the tradition, here were buried in 1527 the rebels Georgios and Peter Kantanoleon, for whom the Cretans Weddings were written by Zambelios.
- 1637: The monastery is mentioned in the Venetian census of the monasteries as Panagia Gounoskalitissa. The church is built inside the rock.
- 1824: The Egyptian Ibrahim Pasha massacres 600 women and 40 rebels on Sunday of Easter in Elafonissi.
- 1831-1840: During the Egyptian Era, the abbot Ioannikios builds new houses next to the cavernous temple.
- 1855: The monk Manassis Glynias from Askifou renovates the old monastery and builds the guesthouse, several monk cells and warehouses.
- 1894: The old cave temple is demolished and a new one is built above it.
- 1900: The monastery is annexed to the monastery of Odigitria Gonia.
- February 1907: The Austrian ship Imperatrix sinks in Elafonissi. The monks struggle in the huge waves and save 102 passengers. 38 are drowned.
- 1940: The monastery converts to a nunnery.
- 1941-1944: During the German Occupation, the nuns are expelled and a German outpost settles here.