A trip to Chania reveals countless sacred sites, more than 300 Byzantine churches, chapels and remarkable monasteries that spread throughout the wider region. Most of them are enriched with exquisite frescoes and holy icons from the Venetian occupation with the basic characteristics of Renaissance architecture.
Among the numerous churches, one is worth visiting at the old town is the Cathedral of Chania, a 13th-century church that is strongly connected to the historical events of Chania as it was used as a place of refugee. It is dedicated on the three saints, the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, Saint Nikolas and to the Three Hierarchs.
The churches of Agioi Anargyroi and Saint Magdalene lie also in the town and host precious Byzantine frescoes and icons.
The Monastery of Agios Ioannis the Hermit is located 20 km west of Chania town, close to the sea. It is considered the oldest monastery in Crete founded in 11th century by Saint John who lived inside a cave, where the church is built. Today the monastery is abandoned and can only be accessed through the path that begins from Gouverneto monastery and takes about 20 to 30 minutes to walk. The church is on the bed of an old impressive river and if you continue walking for another ten minutes you can swim at the crystalline waters.
Gouverneto Monastery (also known as the Lady of the Angels) is situated on the northern coast of Akrotiri, 4 km from the Monastery of Agia Triada. Surrounded by a fortress-like enclosure that reveals the strong Venetian influences, the preserved monastery was built in 1548 and one can see the surviving remains like the cells and the two side chapels dedicated to Panagia (Virgin Mary) and Saint John the Hermit. Today, within the monastery’s walls there is a small ecclesiastical museum with precious relics and icons.
Another religious site is the Monastery of Agia Triada located in the area of Akrotiri, 15 km from Chania. It was built by two Venetian rulers and today visitors can see a precious collection of icons and items. The monastery complex remains one of the most important religious sites in Crete with a beautiful courtyard and impressive chapels built on both sides.
One of the closest monasteries to the town of Chania is the Monastery of Chrissopigi where thousands of pilgrims arrive here to pray to the miraculous icon of the Virgin. The active female monastery was founded in the 17th century by Chartofylakas family and today most of the nuns are involved in farming and the preservation of old icons and books. Within the walls of the complex, there is an ecclesiastical and a folklore museum and impressive churches to visit.
Chryssoskalitissa Monastery is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is highly admired by all visitors. The monastery rises on a rock, 35 meters altitude above the sea. Within the walls of the monastery lies the icon of the Virgin, which is said that counts more than thousand years. Outside Kolymbari you will find the Monastery of Gonia, an old 17th century complex in the middle of a beautiful lush green forest. It is still active and also exhibits a fine collection of post-Byzantine icons and treasury of holy relics.
The Monastery of Virgin Mary Chrissoskalitissa is located on top of a hill above Elafonissi beach, on the southwestern coast of Chania. Inside the monastery, there is a small museum with Byzantine icons, rare manuscripts, and folklore items.
The Monastery of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) Tsagarolon is located in the peninsula of Akrotiri, very close to the airport of Chania. This monastery is impressive with its size. Established in the 18th century, it helped a lot in the Cretan Revolution against the Ottomans.
The Monastery of Gouverneto is also known as the Monastery of the Lady of the Angels. It is located in the peninsula of Akrotiri, east of Chania Town. This monastery looks like a fortress and it is dedicated to the Annunciation of the Virgin.