Chrisoskalitissa monastery

Chrisoskalitissa monastery

One of the most famous monasteries in Crete due to its impressive architecture and the short distance from Elafonisi is the Panagia Chrisoskalitissa Monastery.

It is 72 kilometers in the south-west of Chania, on a 35-meter rock with a view to the Libyan Sea. It is a white monastery in a fortification style. It is one of the most important monuments of the south-western Crete.

The cathedral of the monastery is dedicated to Agia Triada and Koimisis of Theotokos.

The date of its foundation is not known but, according to the tradition, it was built when a farmer found the Koimisis of Theotokos icon in a rock. The icon is said to have been hidden from the Era of the Byzantine Iconoclasm, 726-842 A.C. The icon is still in the church of the monastery.

The monastery is stated in the 1637 Venetian census as “Panagia Gounoskalitissa”. The name “Chrisoskalitissa” came from the last of the 98 stairs of the monastery that is said to have been golden and sold during the Turkish Occupation. According to the legend, only the true believers can still see it.

In 1907, its monks helped the rescue of 102 out of the 140 passengers of the Iberatris ship that sunk in Elafonisi.

When the Turks slaughtered 850 people (mostly women and children) on the Easter day in 1824, they also destroyed hundreds of churches of the area. When they tried to loot the monastery, a swarm of bees attacked them. The hive of the bees was in the iconostasis on the way up to the monastery.

The monastery became a female one in 1940 and, a year later, the nuns were sent away in order a German outpost to be established. Four years later, monks moved in the monastery again.

The area of Chrisoskalitissa was inhabited in the Minoan Years as a small fishermen settlement was found.