Moni Gonia Monastery

Moni Gonia Monastery

Moni Gonia Monastery, Monastery of Our Lady of Gonia or Monastery of Panaghia Odigitria is an orthodox monastery located 1 km north of Kolymvari and some 26 km from Chania, on the coast of the south-east Rodopos peninsula in Crete. The monastery was originally founded in the 9th century and was originally dedicated to Aghios Georghios (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 during the Cretan Revolt (1866-1869) against the Ottoman Empire in 1867, evidence of which can be seen today by the remaining cannon ball 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.

Today the Orthodox Academy of Crete, an important religious and spiritual academy in Crete was established by the archdiocese of the island.

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