Chania Gonia Monastery

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Location: Kolimbari

The Monastery of Gonia (Panagia Odighitria) is located 26 km west of Chania Town and 2,5 km north of Kolimbari, on a hill overlooking the Cretan Sea.
The monastery was originally founded around the 14th century by monks from the monastery of Saint George at Menies, which had to be abandoned as a result of the constant pirate raids.

During the 17th century, the monk Vlassios decided to build the new monastery at its present location, after having a vision of the Virgin Mary. Due to the inclination of the ground, the monastery is built on an artificial surface formed by underground domed halls. It is surrounded by a high wall that makes it look like a Venetian fortress and it boasts a great courtyard with colorful flowers. During the 19th century, a narthex, a bell tower and several side chapels were added, while other ancillary buildings include the monks' cells, storehouses and cellars. Inside the main church, visitors can see an ornately carved 17th-century wooden altarpiece, as well as various icons crafted between the 1500s and the 1600s.

The monastery has played an important role in local history, as it has always been a site of resistance both during the Ottoman times and during the German occupation. This is why it has been destroyed and rebuilt several times over the course of time. During World War II, the German troops commandeered the convent and used it as a military camp. A bullet buried on the eastern side of the wall bears witness to its turbulent history.

Today, the monastery owns a great collection of precious relics, and boasts rare 14th-century icons. Its library also houses impressive old books and manuscripts written between the 17th and the 19th century. In close distance to the monastery of Gonia stands the Orthodox Academy of Crete, one of the most important contemporary religious educational centers.

The Monastery of Gonia is dedicated to the Virgin Mary Odighitria (Our Lady of the Way) and celebrates on the 15th of August.



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