Agia Triada of Tzagarolon
The monastery of Agia Triada of Tzagarolon is one of the richest and most beautiful monasteries in Crete. It is built near the airport of Chania, in the position Tzobomylos of the Cape Melecha and at the foothills of Stavros Mount. The distance from Chania is only 15km.
The monastery was built by the Venetian nobles Jeremiah and Lawrence Tzagarolo. Jeremiah was a famous scholar of his era with rich education and was a friend of the Patriarch of Alexandria, Meletios Pigas. Jeremiah himself was a candidate for Patriarch of Constantinople. Moreover, Jeremiah designed and built the monastery complex of the monastery, being affected by the architect Sebastiano Serlio from Verona, Italy.
The monastery today hosts a small museum with various pictures and icons. The most important are the 12th century cloth for covering the altar, the icons of St. John the Theologian (16th century), St. Nicholas (17th century) and the icons of the painter Skordilis: the Enthroned Christ, Living Spring and the Second Coming (1635-1645).
Today, after the numerous historical adventures, the monastery continues to play an important role in the religious and economic life of Crete. It is Stavropegic, which means that it is directly managed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Visitors will see an incredibly well-preserved and vibrant monastery that produces and exports organic olive oil, wine, honey, vinegar and olive oil soap of unique quality.
Gouverneto or Gderneto Monastery is located 19km east of Chania, on the north side of the Cape Akrotiri of Chania, near the monastery of Agia Triada Tzagarolon. It can be accessed through the Agia Triada, where there is a sign leading to the Gouverneto.
It is situated on a rocky site at an altitude of 260m, near the entrance of the gorge Avlaki and is built with fortress architecture and four towers with bastions protect its corners. The Gouverneto monastery was built before 1537, as proved by an inscription at the entrance of the fortress, being one of the oldest monasteries in Crete. It is believed that the monastery was founded by hermits and monks of the seaside Katholiko Monastery, who may built the new monastery over a pre-existing ancient temple so as to protect themselves from pirate raids.
The church of the monastery is dedicated to Virgin Mary, so it is also called Kyria ton Agelon (Lady of the Angels Monastery). It has a cruciform shape with a dome, while the entrance is decorated with relief representations of monsters. It was started being built during the Venetian Era, but the construction finished 2.5 centuries later, as the Turks invaded Crete and forbid building Christian temples.
Around the church of the monastery, which is located in the center of the courtyard, there are the other buildings of the complex. Among them are 50 monk cells in two floors, the dining room, a small museum, etc. Also, next to the church there are two chapels dedicated to Agii Deka (Saints Ten) and Saint John the Hermit.
St. John the Hermit lived in a cave in the gorge Avlaki, adjacent to the monastery, and is considered as the founder of the monastery. You can walk in Avlaki gorge by following the stone paved trail that descends to the sea. After 20 minutes of descent you will meet the Arkoudospilio Cave, and after a while the ruined monastery Katholiko and the cavernous church of St. John, where the hermit lived. After more 10 minutes, the gorge ends in a narrow rocky fjord with green waters.
The monastery is open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday (9:00 to 12:00 and 17:00 to 19:00) and on weekends (9:00 to 11:00 and 17:00 to 20:00). Also, make sure you are decently dressed, and shorts, swimwear etc. are not allowed.