Chania Chrissoskalitissa monastery

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Location: Elafonisi

The Monastery of Panagia Chrisoskalitissa is located on the southwestern side of Chania, on the way to Elafonisi Beach. It is the centerpiece of a tiny traditional settlement and is perched on top of a 35-meter cliff, dedicated to the Holy Trinity and the Dormition of Mary. The name Chrissoskalitissa translates to "of the golden step”, as tradition has it that one of the 98 steps that lead to the monastery is golden but only the devout can see it.

This monastery is believed to have been built sometime in the 1500s, but the exact date is unknown. The original building was carved into the rock but was replaced by the modern temple in 1894. A legend tells that when Ottoman-Egyptian forces were attempting to subdue rebellious activity in the area in 1824 and set their sights on looting the monastery, they were repelled by a swarm of bees.

During the German occupation, the Axis powers used Chrisoskalitissa as a guardhouse. The German presence has left an indelible mark here, as an image of St. Basil still bears a tear caused by German machine gun fire. Bullet damage is also found on the image of the Dormition of Mary, which is said to have miraculously appeared to a local shepherd all those years ago, leading to the construction of the temple.

Today, the monastery is a famous pilgrimage site and is open to the public, where one can also find a folklore museum, which showcases items of everyday use of past centuries, and a Byzantine museum, where religious relics are on display.



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