The monastery of Panagia Spiliotissa is located 22km south of Heraklion, between the villages Houdetsi and Agios Vasilios. It is hidden in the sides of the lush green Spiliotissa canyon. It can be easily accessed by walking on a green path, 500m long, from Houdetsi. Along this path you will see the Byzantine churches of St. John and Anthony, and two old water mills.
The temple is built inside the rock and is dedicated to the Assumption (celebrates on August 15). According to one version, it was firstly founded in about 1000AD, but the dominant option is that the monastery was founded in the early 17th century. Alternatively, the church might was built in the 11th century, but it much later operated as a monastery. The foundation of the church is linked to the finding of the icon of Panagia (Virgin Mary) in the cave, where the temple is currently built.
Later the monastery became a dependency of Sinai St. Catherine monastery, where it belongs even today. The monastery was originally male, but it now operates as a small nunnery.
- 11th century: the church of Panagia Spiliotissa is built (one version) around the cave where the icon of Panagia was found.
- 1600-45: The monastery of Panagia Spiliotissa is founded (second stronger version), maybe around the pre-existing temple.
- 1649: After the conquest of Crete by the Turks, the monastery is donated to the monastery of St. Catherine in Sina.