Gouverneto Monastery

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Gouverneto Monastery

gouverneto monastery located in akrotiri peninsula, chaniaGouverneto Monastery (Moni Gouvernetou) is one of the oldest monasteries in Crete, as it was built in 1537.

Gouverneto Monastery, or Our Lady of the Angels as it is also known, is on the Akrotiri Peninsula, about 4 km from Agia Triada Monastery, or 19 km north of Chania.

 

gouverneto monastery in crete

How to get to Gouverneto Monastery

map with gouverneto monasteri in akrotiri peninsula, crete

From Chania to Gouverneto Monastery. If you are in Chania (19 km away), take the road to the Venizelos Tombs and Kounoupidiana, and turn west towards Kambani.

Most of the road is in good condition and there are several signs to Agia Triada Monastery (but not Gouverneto Monastery).

Most of the road is in good condition and there are several signs to Agia Triada Monastery (but not Gouverneto Monastery).

You reach the monastery through a wild, almost biblical landscape of rocks, wild olives and many twists and turns.

From Rethymno or Heraklion to Gouverneto Monastery. Take the National Road towards Chania, and at the Souda turnoff take the exit to Akrotiri and Chania Airport.

Gouverneto Monastery

Gouverneto Monastery, Lady of the Angels

 

Gouverneto Monastery resembles a castle, with towers which served to defend it from raiders. The outside of the monastery in particular reveals strong Venetian influences: it looks like a Venetian fortress, measuring 40 m x 50 m, with 50 monks’ cells on two floors, a tower in each of the four corners, and special embrasures or loopholes in the walls. Only two of the towers are preserved today, but you can see the remains of the other two from the courtyard.

The monastery church is dedicated to the Virgin, which is why Gouverneto Monastery is also known as Our Lady of the Angels.

monsters carved in relief on the front of the church
Source: “Ta Nea” Newspaper

The church is cruciform, without domes, and its narthex is set at right angles to the central aisle. The most interesting and impressive features are the monsters carved in relief on the front of the church. The style is also quite unusual, influenced by the Venetian Renaissance and Baroque.

Work on the church began in the Venetian period but was interrupted due to the Turkish invasion and the prohibitions they imposed. It took many years for the church to be completed, with special permission from the Turkish conquerors.

Next to the church is a chapel dedicated to the founder of the monastery, St John the Hermit, whose cave is in the nearby Avlaki Gorge. At the side of the church there is also another chapel dedicated to the Ten Saints of Crete.

Inside the monastery is a tiny museum of ecclesiastical works and other precious relics.

Avlaki Gorge

A paved footpath leads north of Gouverneto Monastery and into the Avlaki Gorge, which runs down to the sea.

katholiko monastery
Katholiko Monastery - Source: "Τa Nea" Newspaper

The descent is easy, but coming back is tiring if you’re not used to walking, especially on a hot summer’s day. It’s best to walk through the gorge either early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

About 20 minutes’ walk from the monastery, you come to the famous Αrkoudospilios (“Bear Cave”), with the bear that was turned to stone and became a great rock inside the cave.

Keep on until you come to the famous Katholiko Monastery and the church of St John the Hermit.

Ten minutes’ walk further on is a tiny cove which was once used as a harbour. The aquamarine water would be very inviting for a swim before the climb back up to Gouverneto Monastery, if this were not strictly prohibited by the monks.

The history of Gouverneto Monastery

Gouverneto Monastery was built in 1537 and prospered, acquiring great influence in the area and a vast amount of property. The 1637 census, shortly before the Turkish invasion, recorded 60 monks living in Gouverneto Monastery, making it one of the largest in Crete.

Gouverneto Monastery was built in 1537 and prospered, acquiring great influence in the area and a vast amount of property. The 1637 census, shortly before the Turkish invasion, recorded 60 monks living in Gouverneto Monastery, making it one of the largest in Crete.

During the Second World War, the Germans established a guardhouse in the monastery to control the area, the scene of many skirmishes with resistance groups.

From 2005 onwards, the monks of Gouverneto Monastery have undertaken restoration work on the church and its surroundings, in an attempt to preserve this famous Cretan monastery in perfect condition.

Gouverneto Monastery Opening Hours

Gouverneto Monastery has very strict opening hours, fewer than other monasteries, so you must choose the days and times you go carefully.

The monastery is officially closed on Wednesdays and Fridays. It is open 09:00 -12:00 and 17:00 - 19:00 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 09:00 - 11:00 and 17:00 - 20:00 on Saturdays and Sundays.

When visiting Gouverneto Monastery, please be aware of the following:

  • Entrance is prohibited to people inappropriately dressed in shorts, swimwear or sleeveless blouses.
  • Smoking is forbidden inside the monastery, and so is using cameras or video cameras

 

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