Gouverneto Monastery is a Greek Orthodox monastery in the Akrotiri peninsula of the Chania regional unit. Dated to 1537 (although other sources say 1548), the monastery is a Venetian style fortress with towers at each end with some Baroque influences added later. It measures roughly 40 metres by 50 metres and contains some 50 monks’ cells on two floors.
Gouverneto is reputed to be one of the oldest monasteries in Crete, and a 1637 census, recorded shortly before the Turkish invasion, revealed that at the time there were 60 monks living in Gouverneto Monastery, also making it one of the largest in Crete at the time. The courtyard is rectangular shaped and is dominated by a dome church dedicated to the virgin and has an ornate Venetian facade. The chapel in the courtyard is reported to have some of the oldest frescoes in Crete.
To the west side of the monastery is the narthex, and contains chapels dedicated to St John the Hermit and the Ten Holy Martyrs. There are some notable monsters carved in relief on the front of the church. A cave called Arkouditissa or Arkoudia, is also located in the vicinity where the goddess Artemis was once worshiped.
During World War II, the Germans established a guardhouse in the monastery to regulate the area and since 2005 it has undergone restoration work by the monks. The monastery has strict rules, and forbids smoking and photography inside the monastery and is officially closed on Wednesdays and Fridays.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).