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Today, each of the monasteries is a place of peace and quiet. There are many cloisters decorated with greenery, cats sleep in the corners. All this makes you want to not only explore, but also sit in silence.

However, it is worth realizing that it was not always a place of oasis and peace. During the Turkish or German occupation, monasteries were places of refuge for people and for the struggle for independence. Unfortunately, it was also a place of cruel slaughter.

history of the Chrysoskialitissa monastery

Buildings from the Minoan times have been discovered near the monastery buildings. Unfortunately, there is no exact data about the monastery. According to some legends, this place was awarded in the 8th century, when the farmer found the icon of the Mother of God. However, according to book guides, the uprising dates back to the 17th century. It is known, however, that the times of occupation, be it Ottoman or German, were difficult. The Turks attacked the monastery many times, demolishing the buildings. However, during World War II, the Germans expelled the nuns (as it was a female order at the time) to create a German garrison here. The icons, which can still be admired in the tiny museum today, have been preserved thanks to the entrepreneurship of nuns who hid holy paintings.

Since 1944, the monastery has been owned by monks, who are happy to accept individual tourists or optional tours for a small fee.




legend of the Chrysoskialitissa monastery

There is a story connected with the monastery that the 98th degree (and in fact there is a lot to beat here) is all gold. But, only the most believers can see it.

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Panagia Chrisoskalitissis monastery

The white buildings on a hill about 35 meters high look great from a distance. Also, being there, it is worth going to the observation deck, because there is a beautiful view of the sea, especially the turquoise ones in this place.

Anyway, many optional trips come here, with a stop on the way to the nearby beaches of Elafonisi. In folders advertising the tour, the view is advertised the most.

Visiting the monastery of Kato Preveli

The Preveli Monastery is actually two monasteries; Piso Preveli and Kato Preveli are about 3.5 km apart.

The Kato Preveli Monastery is situated in a picturesque corner; on the slopes of the mountains, at the exit of the Kourtaliotiko gorge. Although it is no longer inhabited today, it was a very important center of the resistance movement during the Ottoman and German occupations.

Its creation dates back to the 10th century, which makes it the oldest monastery on the island.

The monastery complex is open from 8:00 am to 1:30 pm. and 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and no fees are charged. There are not many tourists here, it was closed to visitors until recently.

In a central place, in a small courtyard, there is the Church of St. John the Baptist, around which there are buildings for various purposes; cells, abbot's room, kitchen and dining room, warehouses or a room for the production of olive oil. Huge areas with olive trees extend around the monastery. It would seem that the place is perfect, but the constant attacks of invaders forced the monks to leave the place.

Kato Preveli monastery

visiting the Piso Preveli monastery

Currently, the monastery consists of two groups of buildings. The lower part, Kato, is heavily damaged and is not open to the public. In the upper part - Pisso, in the central part there is a small fountain, opposite which is a small building with souvenirs and local products. In the main courtyard there is a church dedicated to John the Theologian.

It was built in 1835 on the rubble of demolition. The church is small, only 14 meters long and 8 meters wide. The walls are 1.8 m wide at their base to taper at the ceiling to 1.2 m.

Such thick walls allow you to rest inside from the tiring summer heat. The building is simple with a few decorations. In 1911, a two-headed eagle was added here. Inside, attention is drawn to a gilded pulpit from 1863. There are many beautiful icons painted by the best local painters at the turn of 1840/1841 and embedded in the iconostasis.

During the occupation, they hid in nearby caves. There is also the miraculous cross of Ephraim, recovered after the war. It is a richly decorated golden cross with a fragment of the cross of Christ. He is credited with healing powers.

the story of Moni Piso Preveli

The exact date when the monastery was founded is unknown. It is believed that at the turn of the 10th and 11th centuries, in the 17th and 19th centuries, the Order played an important role in the uprisings against the Turkish authorities, which was why it was robbed and destroyed many times.

After the reunification of Crete with Greece in 1913, the monastery was able to return to a peaceful life focusing on spiritual matters. This time was also used to rebuild the monastery buildings. World War II brings new challenges. Here the center of the resistance was organized.

Under the cover of the night, the monks helped many English, Australians and New Zealanders escape to Egypt by submarine. The most famous episode in the history of the monastery was 1941.

After the lost battle for Crete, the abbot Agathonos hid allied soldiers in the monastery. Later, the monks helped to evacuate them from a nearby palm beach. Unfortunately, the second attempt to evacuate ended with detection.

The Germans severely punished the monks. After hours of cruel interrogation, they were charged with gun possession and imprisoned. The abbot, fearing for his life, had to flee the monastery.

Only the intercession of Bishop Agathangelos Xirouhakis eased the punishments and the monks could return to the monastery. On the spot, it turned out that the Germans plundered all the monastery buildings and stole the most important and most valuable valuables. And what they did not take, they badly damaged.

Until the end of the war, both the monastery and the surrounding towns were under the constant supervision of the occupant.

The courtyard is rectangular in shape, with a church from 1587 in the central part. There are still traces of the fighting in 1866 on the walls. The facade is decorated with double columns with Corinthian capitals placed on either side of each entrance.

The interior is decorated with a beautiful iconostasis, created in 1927, carved from olive trees. Beautiful, arched cloisters hide the monks' cells, a storehouse and a museum where icons, vessels and vestments are kept, as well as a banner from the 1866 uprising. At the entrance there are old stables, and behind them a morgue with the skeletons of victims from 1866.

history of Moni Arkadiou Monastery

The monastery was built at the turn of the 10th and 11th centuries, but the present buildings come from the 17th century, additionally restored after the events of 1866.

The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were the period of the Turkish occupation, especially difficult for the Orthodox religion. Both the monks and the local inhabitants did not come to terms with the fate of the country under occupation. They fought fiercely for freedom. It was here that the center of the insurgent movement was established.

The black date is November 8. 1866, when about 1,000 patriots, including only 300 armed fighters and the rest are women with children, barricaded themselves against 15,000 Turks under the command of Abbot Gabriel.

After the Turkish commander unsuccessfully called on the Cretans to surrender, the next day the army blew up the gate with a cannon and stormed inside. There was a cruel slaughter here. Every Greek encountered here was murdered. It does not matter if it is a religious person, woman or child.

When there was no hope for rescue, the abbot of the monastery and Konstantinos Giaboudakis blew up the dust depot along with those seeking refuge here. Only 114 people survived the outbreak. This event echoed widely in Europe and significantly contributed to the establishment of the Republic of Crete in 1898.

November 8 is the national holiday of Crete and the Moni Arkadiou Monastery is a national monument.

Moni Arkadi Monastery in Crete

Moni Katholiko in Crete

Bear Cave on the Peninsula Akrotiri

After visiting the monasteries described above, continue on foot. Leave your car in front of the Moni Gouverneto gate to exit the monastery walls via the gate on the other side. A short walk is enough to reach the ruins of completely abandoned buildings. These are the remains of a monastery that is currently not used in any way. An interesting fact about this place is the cave called the bear, because it has an interesting history.

Well, when the monastery was inhabited by hermits, the monks kept water in the cave for their own needs. They were surprised, however, that very often in the morning the tank was empty, although in the evening it was full to the brim. One of the monks suggested staying in the grotto overnight to watch what happened after dark.

When he was already falling asleep, well after midnight, a huge bear entered the cave to drink from the monastic tank. A very frightened brother began to pray fervently to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Prayers were answered as the bear turned to stone. The legend is confirmed by the figure sitting by the watering hole, resembling a bear. History connects Neolithic times with modernity, because the bear, as a sacred animal in BC, was defeated by God.

The story of Moni Katholiko

The third of the proposed ones on the peninsula. Akrotiri, Moni Katholiko Monastery is quite far from the cave. Although about a half-hour walk is enough, the heat and the fact that you will not meet anyone while descending steep stairs increase the mystery and seclusion.

You absolutely need to take a large supply of water and something to give you energy. It is not advisable to take the children for this tiring walk.

Nevertheless, Moni Katholiko is worth seeing. This place is unlike any other on the island. The monastic remains hidden in the mountains add to the magic.

It all started when Jan Gouvernetou, fleeing the Middle East by sea, settled here in a cave. He lived as a hermit, completely alone until his followers increased. Eremites, this is the name of monks with an exceptionally strict rule, who live in hermitages isolated from civilization, built the Moni Katholiko monastery in the 15th century.

A beautiful gate leading to the monastery and a church hidden in the rock have been preserved. In the two-story building, on the first floor, there was probably the abbot's apartment. The bridge over the gorge, 10 m wide, looks impressive, with a cistern and storage rooms in its pillars.

The monastery was often attacked by pirates, looting the monastery of all valuables and often murdering monks. Therefore, in the 16th century, the monastery was moved higher. Moni Gouvernetou is the succession of Moni Katholiko.

An interesting fact about the place is that on the nearby beach, Anthony Quinn danced a sirtaka to the film Zorba the Greek.

The history of the monastery

Moni Gouverneto Monastery was founded in the 10th century by Jan Pustelnik, information about which can be found on the board next to the Moni Katholiko monastery. The original one was close to the sea, which made it easier for the pirates to attack the monks frequently.

Thus, the brothers were forced to move to the higher regions of the mountains and to surround this area with a thick and high wall. In 1537 it was the largest monastery in Crete.

Since then, assault-free monks multiplied their fortune; they owned a huge land with olive trees. At the same time, the brothers made sure that the founder of the monastery became a saint. They succeeded in this in 1632, when the Orthodox Church recognized John the Hermit as a saint, and October 6 as his feast day.

The golden days of the monastery were destroyed by the Ottoman invaders. The Turks did not tolerate any manifestations of the Christian religion. It was a very difficult time for all the monasteries in Crete. There were also many tragedies here.

The most tragic year was 1821, when the Turks attacked the monastery and murdered defenseless monks, including those who tried to escape. Religious brothers did not lose their spirit, in the years 1866-1869 they became famous as an invaluable help to the insurgents in the fight for the freedom of the country.

In 1894, when the rule of the invaders was weakening, the monks were allowed to complete the construction of the temple. Thus, two and a half centuries after its inception, the construction of a new monastery was completed.

It didn't take half a century before another invader in World War II began controlling the region from there.

From 2005, the monks began restoration work to repair the damage from previous centuries.



Moni Gouverneto Monastery

Thick and high walls give the character of a fortress. There were four towers with bastions in the corners to protect them from attackers.

In the middle of the courtyard stands the Church of the Virgin Mary, built on a cross plan. The entrance is decorated with sculptures depicting monsters. Further in the hall, an icon depicting St. Jan Gouverneto.

Around the courtyard on two floors there are 50 monks' cells, a dining room and a small museum.

Moni Gouverneto in Crete

Visiting Moni Gouvernet

After visiting the Agia Triada monastery, it is worth going to the next one, Gouverneto, located about 5 km deep into the Akrotiri peninsula. The winding and narrow road is paved with concrete slabs. So, optional tours do not come here. Besides, there are few tourists in these regions.

For many visitors, it is a very interesting place due to its all-encompassing silence and mystery. The monks who live here guard their privacy, so you need to plan your trip carefully to keep the gate open.

The monastery is closed on Wednesdays and Fridays, and on other days only in the mornings and evenings (until 12:00 and after 17:00). The monastic courtyard is not adapted for visitors.

Although there is a lot of greenery, there are no beautiful flower vases on display. Nobody sells monks' goods. At the entrance to the monastery, there is a board informing about the prohibition of taking photos and a request for appropriate clothing.

Today, each of the monasteries is a place of peace and quiet. There are many cloisters decorated with greenery, cats sleep in the corners. All this makes you want to not only explore, but also sit in silence.

However, it is worth realizing that it was not always a place of oasis and peace. During the Turkish or German occupation, monasteries were places of refuge for people and for the struggle for independence. Unfortunately, it was also a place of cruel slaughter.

History of the Agia Triada Monastery

Agia Triada Monastery means the Holy Trinity Monastery. The founders were the Venetian monks Laurentios and Jeremias Giagorolich, who converted to Orthodoxy. From them comes the nickname of Moni Tzangarolou. The first church was built in 1631. However, it soon turned out to be too small. And so, less than 20 years later, the construction of a much larger one, put into use in 1634, began.

During the Ottoman occupation, the Turks did not tolerate the local religion, which is why the monasteries in Crete were a frequent target of attacks or arson, and the monks themselves were subjected to torture and hours of interrogation. The year 1821 is a tragedy for this place. The monastery was completely burnt, and valuable and sacred items, especially library equipment, were stolen or destroyed. The people of the area quickly united to build a new monastery. Already in 1839, a new one was built next to it, which still captivates with its beauty and pleasant atmosphere.


Monastery today

The quadrangular courtyard is full of cloisters hiding the entrances to the monastery rooms, stairs and wells decorated with pots and vases with flowers. In the center there is a church with richly carved iconasts (wooden wall with icons). On the left side of the courtyard there is a museum of sacred art with icons, manuscripts and souvenirs from the 15th - 17th centuries and sculptures (woodcarving) from the 18th and 19th centuries.

The shop sells olive oil, honey, wine and olive soaps. Olives from the surrounding and very extensive olive groves, the trees of which are over 500 years old, are used for their production. The products are highly valued because it is known that the most valuable olives come from old trees.

The monks produce oil by traditional methods on monastic presses. On the other hand, the wines are made from grapes grown in organic vineyards, without the use of any chemicals.

Tourists are interested in the tree on the southern stairs, on which oranges, mandarins, lemons and limes grow simultaneously.


opening hours of the monastery

- in summer 8 am ÷ 2 pm and 5 pm ÷ sunset

- there is an entrance fee of € 2 per adult










Moni Piso Preveli


Monastery Agia Triada