The monastery of Savatiana or Savvathiana is located in a beautiful wooded and well-protected position near Rogdia, at an altitude of 440m and at a distance of 20km west of the city of Heraklion. The monastery is one of the several monasteries that operated in the area during the Venetian period, which was later mercilessly destroyed by the Turks.
Savvathiana monastery is built on a naturally fortified position, possibly in order to protect the monks from the constant pirate raids before the Venetian period. During the Venetian Occupation of Crete it should have been the strongest monastery in the wider area, even stronger than the famous monastery of Agia Pelagia that operated on the north side of the beach of Agia Pelagia, which later became a dependency of Savatiana.
From the entrance of the monastery starts a beautiful path, smothered in vegetation, leading to the monastery. Very near the monastery, just 200m, you can visit the cavernous church of St. Anthony, which probably once operated as a separate monastery. The church has a second newer aisle, dedicated to Saint Savvas. It is accessed through a scenic trail with a very old stone bridge. The main temple of Savatiano is relatively new and is dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary and the Forty Martyrs. The monastery has been renovated in the recent years, but without losing its style. Inside the complex, you can also see the cemetery of the monastery, the ossuary, a former mill, the dining room of the visitors, the old guest room, the nuns' cells and the old water tower of the monastery.
The monastery operates as a nunnery. It hosts the very old icon of “Great are You, Lord" painted by Ioannis Kornaros, and a copy of which still exists in Toplou Monastery. The icon was considered lost till 1991, when the Archaeological Authorities cleared a pitch-black icon and revealed the old painting.
Among the abbots of the monastery, was Maximos Marnounios, a very well known scholar of the Venetian Era. Also in Savatiana, there are the tombs of two major rebels against the Turks, Evmenios Vourexakis and Iraklis Kokkinidis.
- 961-1204: Monk Savvatios founds the Monastery of Savvatios, with its cavernous temple dedicated to St. Anthony.
- 1549: Savatiana Monastery is mentioned in an old manuscript
- 1596: The stone bridge that connects the monastery of Savatiana with Saint Anthony is built.
- 1647-1669: During the siege of Candia, the Turks destroy the monasteries of the wider area, including Savatiana.
- 1648: The monks fight against the Turks but they are eventually either sent prisoners to America or killed. The only survivor, the monk Nathanael, returns and reconstructs the monastery.
- 1745: The Turks grant permission to repair the church of St. Anthony.
- 1770: Ioannis Kornaros draws the picture of “Great Are You, Lord” a copy of which is exhibited today in Toplou.
- 1821: The monks take part in the Great Revolution of 1821.
- 1850: The mansion of Modinos in Rogdia is granted to Savvathiana
- 1866: The monk of Savathiana, Evmenios Vourexakis is killed heroically in the battle of Almyros.
- 1868: The hero Iraklis Kokkinidis is killed in a battle against the Turks near Gazi and is burried in the monastery.
- 1871: Minor repairs are performed.
- 1935: The monastery is declared preservable.
- 1941-1944: During the German occupation, the monastery is a refuge for the locals. At the end of the war only two monks live here.
- 1945: Monks Kallinicos and Ioannikios reconstruct the monastery, which was been devastated.
- 1946: Nine nuns from Peloponnese come in Savvatiana and the male monastery turns to a nunnery.
- 1950: The aisle of Saint Forty is added to the central temple.
- 1954: The aisle of Saint Savvas is added to the cavernous church of St. Anthony.
- 1991: After cleaning an unknown pitch-black icon, the archaeologists reveal the old icon "Great Are You, Lord" of Ioannis Kornaros, that was considered lost.