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Travel Guide > Crete > Chania > What to see > Katholiko monastery

Katholiko monastery

An interesting and exciting half or full day excursion is a visit to the Katholiko monastery in the area of Akrotiri. The path towards Katholiko gorge starts from the Gouverneto Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries in Crete, built in 15th century. The entrance of the path to Kaholiko monastery is about 20 km from the town of Chania.

The paved path goes through a very beautiful rocky landscape with sea views. After about 30 minutes you will see the cave of Saint John the Hermit, who lived here at the beginning of the 11th century.

If you continue hiking for about 45 minutes more, you reach the beautiful Katholiko monastery.

The monastery complex was founded on the site where Saint John the Hermit or Xenos died during the 11th century. After the death of Saint John the Hermit, this area became one of the most important ascetic centers in Crete. The cave was turned into a temple (it celebrates on September 20) and the surrounding area was originally a refuge for the hermits, while later some monk cells were built.

In the 17th century, in front of the cave, an extensive construction of buildings took place under the supervision of Jeremiah Tzagarolo with the architectural drawings of Sebastiano Serlio, and the monastic complex acquired its current impressive form. You can see the old cells of the hermits, the bell tower and the impressive bridge that crosses the river of the gorge. At the bottom of the bridge there are large vaulted storage spaces, while on both sides a two-storey building and a small series of vaulted rooms were built to house the pilgrims.

The cult of Agios Ioannis spread very much during the 17th century in Crete. When the shores of Crete became the target of the pirates and fear prevailed, the monastery was deserted and the monks were forced to move to a more secluded place which was the monastery of Gouverneto, at the entrance of the path. At the exit of the gorge to the sea there is a large rock in a shape of a ship, which according to the legends is a pirate ship that was stoned after the curses of the abbot of Katholiko.

Important notes

  • A hat, sun lotion, your swimming suit, a bottle of water, snacks and comfortable strong shoes are necessary for the day.
  • The walk is suitable for reasonably fit people as the path up the hill on our way back can be a little challenging.
  • The way back is much more difficult, since it is an uphill path.

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