Panagia Gouverniotissa Monastery In Pictures

Meeting the Seven Centuries-Old Saints From the Byzantine Frescoes 

  Throughout its long and turbulent history, Crete has always been a place of intense spirituality and religiosity. With its ancient roots and steadfastness, the Orthodox Church has played an important role as a custodian of perennial values and a catalyst for Greek national identity. The beautiful monasteries, chapels, and churches, many of which have magnificent relics dating from the Byzantine era in Crete (961-1204 A.D.) are one of the many reasons why the island is an ideal destination for religious tourism enthusiasts.

 On the 15th of August, the Greek Orthodox Church commemorates the Dormition of the Mother of God (“Koemisis”), one of the largest religious holidays of the year. Traditionally on this day, the villages, churches, and icons are adorned with flowers in a festive atmosphere, and all married women named Maria celebrate their name day (“onomastik√≠ eort√≠”). In one of our mountain trips, we happened to visit the famous monastery of Panagia Gouverniotissa (dedicated to the Assumption), just after a local event that took place on the celebration day on its premises.

 The monastery is located near the village of Potamies, about 5 km from Hersonissos and 33 km east of Heraklion, on a small hill with a breathtaking view of the Lagada area and Potamies Valley. Founded in the 10th century after Crete was liberated from the Arabs, and thus considered among the oldest Byzantine monasteries in Crete, Panagia Gouverniotissa is not only a place of worship but also a great point of cultural and historical interest. 

 Even if it no longer functions as a monastery, its church operates normally, all year round. The visitors may enjoy the precious remains of original frescoes from the middle of the 14th century, the museum with the ecclesial art and crafts in the monks’ renovated cells of the 19th century, and a botanical garden with Cretan native medicinal and aromatic plants. Also in the buildings of the Monastery, there is a special area for hosting periodic exhibitions and in the landscaped area outside the monastery, great concerts with well-known Greek artists take place every summer. The most valuable icons of the monastery, the iconostasis, and the door of the church are today exhibited at the Historical Museum of Crete in Heraklion.

 The church is cruciform with a dome reinforced with wooden beams and is decorated with great frescoes with various themes, such as Christ the Pantocrator in the dome, the Prophets, the Passions, and the Crucifixion of Jesus, the life of the Virgin Mary, the Miracles of Jesus, etc. Featuring the Byzantine artistic influences from Constantinople of the 12th-15th centuries, Panagia Gouverniotissa has retained its value as a religious monument up to the present day and is considered among the most important churches with frescoes in Crete. Its centuries-old painted saints are faded, yet they still have the power to silently speak to the watcher's soul.

 If you are passionate about cultural itineraries or religious pilgrimages, until you plan a visit to Crete, we invite you to enjoy our photos from Panagia Gouverniotissa!


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