Gonia is an Orthodox monastery located on the coast of the south-east Rodopos peninsula in Crete, overlooking the Gulf of Chania.

Today dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, the monastery was founded in the 9th century and was originally dedicated to St. George. It was originally situated at Menies on the ruins of the ancient temple of Artemis Britomartis (Diktynna). The monastery was built in the 13th century adjacent to a cemetery, but it was rebuilt between 1618 and 1634 in its present location, with Venetian influences in its architectural design and adornment. The distinctive fountain in front of the monastery's entrance was built in 1708 and the belfry in 1849.

According to monks the present location at Kolymvari was considered a safer from attack. Despite this, the monastery was heavily damaged by Ottoman bombardment on many occasions throughout its history including in 1645, 1652, 1822, 1841, and finally in 1867 during the Cretan Revolt (1866–1869) against the Ottoman Empire, evidence of which can be seen today by the remaining cannonball lodged in the monastery wall.

During World War II the monastery was partly destroyed by German bombing and it became one of the most important areas of Cretan resistance to Nazi Germany.

Architecture and relics

Gonia Monastery is a Venetian-style fortress monastery. Its main church has a narthex, a dome, and a number of chapels surrounded by a courtyard. The courtyard area is also where the quarters of the abbot and monks of the monastery are situated along with the refectory and storehouses.

Today, the monastery museum contains numerous Byzantine artifacts from the 15th and 17th century including Cretan icons by Parthenios, Ritzos, and Neilos. It also has numerous relics and other rare religious treasures from the Byzantine period and ancient inscriptions on the walls.

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Details

Founded: 1618-1634
Category: Religious sites in Greece

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Stephen Cole (3 years ago)
A gorgeous smallish monastery where the monks are happy to show you around, with shawls available for bare shoulders and legs if required. You aren't allowed to take photographs within the church, but otherwise are welcome to photograph the monastery itself. It is very peaceful here, and behind he church there's a quiet terrace overlooking the sea with quite attractive views.
Haysha EVANS (3 years ago)
I was so lucky to visit the Monastery with the most knowledgeable Tui guide. She knew everything about the history of Crete as well as the Monastery. A new Museum had just been opened, it was laid out beautifully. The manuscripts, vestments and icons were incomparable. The courtyard of the Monastery had also been newly paved with attractive mosaic areas. The views looking out to sea were stunning. Uplifting for the Monks I'm sure!
Dawid Gołata (3 years ago)
Small monastery with a beautiful view on the sea. Entrance 2 euros. Entrance for ladies only with the right dress.
Agnieszka Grygier-Cieciora (3 years ago)
Magical place. Remember to be propper dressed, although there are sort of scarfs to put around your arms. Entrance 2 Euros. No photos/videos in the church.
Lau Guardian (3 years ago)
Wonderful, I arrived during mass, the atmosphere was beautiful. Lovely architecture, I soaked up the spiritual calm with a bunch of friendly locals and tourists.
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