Sfakia- Headquarters of the Cretan Revolutionaries in 1821

In the legendary Fragokastello in the municipality of Sfakia (prefecture of Chania) along with “Drosoulites” the first part of the action “Historical Religious Tourism” and “Ancient Cretan Diet” was completed which started in October 2012 from the Vitouri Gate of the Venetian castle of the Municipality of Herakleion, under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, the Periphery of Crete, the support of the Anti-Periphery of Rethymnon, the European Committee and the cooperation of the municipalities of Herakleion – Minoa Pediados – Agiou Nikolaou – Ierapetras – Rethymnon – Anogeion – Chanion – Sfakion. It should also be noted that the historical data of the Cretan Business Magazine “In-On” has been collected from texts that belong to the Holy Metropolis of Kydonias Apokoronou, the Municipality of Chania, the Municipality of Sfakia, the archaeologist and President of the Scientific Nomination Committee for the Fortifications in Crete Michalis Andrianakis, the archaeologist Irene Gavrilaki Head of the Division of Museum Exhibitions and Educational Programs in the ΚΕ Department of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Mr. Apostolos Kyritsakis the former professor of the Alexandrion Technological Education Institution in Thessaloniki and also  President of the International  Observatory for  “Oxidative stress” with emphasis on the health and agricultural products as well as the  researcher and author Georgios Panagiotakis.
However, this winter the second circle continues in cooperation with the Pan-Hellenic Federation of Cretan Associations including several events in Crete and the rest of Greece with the view to attract tourists through History and the religious monuments of Crete as well as the island’s quality of nutrition.
Every year between May and June during the early hours of the day some shadows can be observed in the plain around Fragokastello the so-called “Drosoulites” that remind figures of knights or warriors. They are usually seen to move from the Monastery of St. Chalalambos towards the castle.
The time when this phenomenon can be observed coincides with the time that the deadly battle between the rebels and the Turks was held. More particularly, on May 17th, 1828 a battle between the Greek units led by and the Turks headed by Pasha Moustafa Naili occurred during which the Greeks were defeated with many casualties. Local legends connected this phenomenon with the battle considering that those shadows are the ghosts of Chatzimihali Daliani’s soldiers.
The Cretans were enslaved for four centuries by the Venetians and then followed the Ottomans who occupied the island for another four centuries.
The Cretans along with the monks and priests – in modern History – revolted against the invaders.
As a paradigm, one can refer the Monastery of Gouverneto in Chania prefecture which celebrates the Presentation of Virgin Mary (Lady of the Angels).
In the revolution of 1821 the Turks directed their hatred towards the Monastery, as was the case in other Monasteries in Crete as well. They slaughtered seven monks and burnt it down.
The most significant historic cities in the prefecture of Chania are the following:
The city with the current name Loutro was called Phoenix in antiquity probably due to the local tree with the same name.
The city reached its peak during the Greek, Archaic and Hellenistic period.  It also existed during the Roman and the early Byzantine period serving as the seat of the Bishop. It has to be noted that in 1821, the Head office of the Chancellery or in other words the Revolutionary Committee (the head of the revolution) was situated in Loutro. Additionally, the safe port of Loutro was often used during the uprising against the Turks.
It was an ancient city whose name is still retained in the homonymous village.
As an independent city it had its own currency. In a 183 B.C. inscription it is referred as one of the 31 cities that have entered into an alliance with the ambitious king of Pergamum Evmenis II.
Anopolis was the center of the rebels against the Venetians at a time when the first murders occurred under the Venetian rule. This revolutionary act preceeded the uprising and Anopolis paid it with total destruction.  During the early years of the Ottoman rule it was rebuilt.
Its residents were involved with shipping and had their own ships that sailed the Mediterranean.
A great, well-off captain was Ioannis Vlachos, who was called Daskaloyiannis due to his education. He was a prominent personality and the leader of the revolution of 1770 that aimed to throw off the Turkish oppression. However, the end of the revolution was unsuccessful and Daskaloyiannis suffered an agonizing death in Herakleion (he was excoriated alive by the Turks). This was the first reaction and the first explosion of the Cretan soul against the Turkish tyrants. The suppression of the revolution meant the destruction of Daskalaloyiannis’ place of origin. Anopolis ended up in fire once more by Omer Pasha in 1866.
During the revolution of 1770, Daskaladonakis gave his last battle there resulting in the city’s total destruction. The decisive battle was given in Aradena gorge in order to halt the advance of the Turks who burnt the city once more.
In the place of the current coastal settlement of Agia Roumeli, ancient Tarra was situated.
The city was established during the Hellenic-Roman period. After the conquest of Crete by the Dorian even though Tarra was a small town it actually developed to become a significant religious center with the temples of Apollo and Artemis. During the Venetian rule, a church of Virgin Mary was built on the spot of Apollo temple. According to the myth, Apollo after killing Python resorted to Tarra where religious purification ceremonies were held by priest Karmanora. It was that very place where Apollo had an affair with nymph Akakallida and his twin sons Fylakidis and Fylandros were born, who according to Pausanias were breastfed by a goat. Tarra is reported among the cities that signed the treaty in 170 B.C with Evmenis II of Pergamum. It can be concluded by the findings of the area that the city reached its peak during the Hellenistic and Roman times. Tarra was the birth place of Loukillos the commentator of Argonautics of Apollonius Rodios, as well as of the guitarist and athlete Chrysothemis.
Along with the neighboring cities of Elyros, Lissos and Yrtakina, they seem to constitute the Federation of Oreion (Mountains).
The name of the city of Chania either comes from the corruption of the name Chthonia which was one of the ancient names of Crete or from the Arabic word Chani or lastly from the small town of Alchania.
The archaeological findings reveal that the city of Chania was inhabited at the end of the Neolithic period (at about 2900 B.C).
The settlement that was developed there was at its peak during the entire period of the Minoan civilization especially during the Neo palatial and late Palatial period.
In the interior part of the Municipal Market of Chania, there were the most food stores of the city and it was established in April 1911. On December 4th 1913, as part of the celebrations regarding the Union of Crete with Greece, it was inaugurated by Eleftherios Venizelos the Prime Minister of that time.
Also, in the area of Chalepa the house of Eleftherios Venizelos is located which was built by his father Kyriakos and finished in 1880 and it was strongly influenced by Western Art. The church of St. Magdalene is in the same square and its architecture is purely Russian. It was built by George, the Great Duke of Russia in memory of his wife’s, Duchess Mary’s, residence in Chania.
Kissamos was a significant city of Western Crete in ancient times that its name is maintained till today.
On a steep cliff near the city, Kasteli, the fortress of Kissamos is preserved. It was built by the Venetians in 1579-1582 and had 35 cannons of various calibers.  When the Turks occupied it, it was reconstructed in many parts. During the revolution of 1821, 1800 Turks besieged by the rebels of the area barricaded themselves in the fortress. In 1823 Emm Tompazis the new Commissioner of Crete with με 600 warriors besieged the fortress again and forced the enclosed Turks to surrender along with their armament. The Greek flag was on the fortress again but once more the Turks conquered it. In 1825, the Greeks who came to Crete from the free at that time Greece re conquered it. Not only during the revolution of 1866 but it was also during the revolution of 1897 that the fortress became a place of military conflicts. Nowadays, Kissamos is a beautiful small town, where the Bishop of Kissamos and Selinon has its head offices as well as many authorities and services.
On Gramvousa cape, the city of Falassarna was situated. Its name was pre-Hellenic and derives from the name of the nymph Falassarni. According to Polybius, the city was occupied by the Kydonians in 184 B.C but the prompt intervention of the Roman Appius forced them to abandon it.  The city participated in the second Macedonian war, sending 300 men. The port was located at the southeast foot of the cape and it was closed.  The Akropolis was on the cape.  Falassarna was more significant than Polyrrinia and had its own currency.  On the one side the head of a woman was depicted and on the other there was a trident and the letters F.A.
It is located south of Kissamos and it is 49 kilometers from Chania.  It owes its name to the fact that the inhabitants were called Polyrrines which means they held a large number of sheep. It used to be an important city of Western Crete. Despite its naturally fortified position, since it was amphitheatrically built on the hillside of a steep mountain, it used to be the best fortified city in Crete.  Its colonies stretched from the Cretan to the Libyan sea. In Polyrrinia Dictyna Athena and Cretan Zeus were worshipped. According to the Roman sophist Zinovios, when Agamemnon was returning from Troy, the rough sea brought him to the area of Polyrrinia. He went to the temple to offer a sacrifice but he did not finish his task because he got informed that the captives had burnt the ships and he was forced to abandon the sacrifice. Unlike Kydonia that fought against the Romans, Polyrrinia did not resist and its subsequent relations after the conquest of Crete were friendly. The walls were rebuilt or extended many times during the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Venetian era, as evidenced by their remains which are still preserved till today. In the ancient part of the city, a part of its magnificent aqueduct is preserved, which is probably the work of Hadrian as well as a temple with a big alter.  As a free and independent city it had its own currency and even had its own mint.
Aptera is situated 15 kilometers from Chania. It used to be one of the most significant cities in Western Crete. The city probably owns its name to the king of Crete Piera or Aptera who built the temple of Apollo in Delphi in 1800 B.C. According to another version, the Sirens were defeated in a music context between them and the Muses.  Due to their sadness, they plucked their feathers and white and without feathers fell into the sea and drowned. Those featherless Sirens gave their name to the city and the Lefkae islands were created in Souda bay.
The city was founded in the 7th century B.C. and existed till the Byzantine era. The ruins as well as the findings of the city belong to the pre-Hellenic, the Hellenistic and the Roman period.
As an independent city it had its own currency and weapons such as bows, arrows and slings which were manufactured in the workshops.  During the second Messinian war (668 B.C.), the city sent help to the Spartans and when the Cretan cities were divided (220 B.C.), it had allied with Knossos.
It is a small coastal settlement on the southern coast of the province of Selinos on ancient Syia.
Ancient Syia was the seaport of the city of Elyros and probably took its name from the word “sys” (pig) because there seems to be a systematic breeding of pigs in the area.
Lately, the most important early Christian basilica was discovered and in this very spot a modern church was erected. It was a three-aisled church with two columns. The middle aisle and the temple have magnificent mosaics depicting geometric patterns and animals, peacocks, deer, birds and amphorae fringed with ivy leaves. The city was supplied with water from the village Livadas as the remains of the Roman aqueduct reveal. According to discoveries, it was destroyed by the Saracens.
West of Sougia and within a distance of about five kilometers the ancient city of Lisos or Lissos is located. This economic boom allowed Lisos to have its own gold currency. Lisos flourished during the Hellenistic but mainly in the Roman and Byzantine era. It owes its financial power among others to the fact that it had an Asclepiad, which had become a significant hydro-therapeutic center due to the quality of its thermal spring water. In the area of the spring, the temple of Asclepius   was built with curved polygonal limestone stones. This temple was destroyed by an earthquake. Its floor was paved with mosaics consisting of small colorful pebbles with geometric designs and pictures of animals. Apart from Gortyna, there is not another place in Crete where more sculptures were found. Twenty statues were found of various sizes, some of which in a natural size such as the one of Asclepius, Pluto and Hygeia. Smaller statues were dedications to the God by people who had been treated or as a thanksgiving for their therapy, as it is indicated on their pedestals.  Among these dedications there was a tiny gold snake with the inscription ASKLAS. In Asclepiads living snakes were kept. When a new Asclepiad was founded, a holy snake was transferred from the old one. The snake, which has been adopted as the emblem of medicine, was believed to have miraculous qualities and even had a special place in Minoan religion.
The city was at its peak during the Byzantine era as well, being the seat of the Bishop. From this period the ruins of two early Christian basilicas with mosaics on their floors are preserved. On this very spot, some newer small churches of Virgin Mary and Agiou Kyrkou or Kyriakou have been built. Also, many brick tombs on the surface of the land still exist that from afar they look like an entire settlement. Lisos had an aqueduct, a theater, baths of Roman times and its own currency. The city was destroyed during the Arab rule and it was not rebuilt ever since.
The city was also called Yrtakinos and was located near the village of Papadiana in the community of Temenion and it was built on a steep and inaccessible hill from the eastern and northern sides that is now called Karfi.  It is about 70 kilometers from Chania. It used to be a fortress-city surrounded by two rows of powerful Cyclopean walls as evidenced by the relics found. The sanctuary of God Pan was found in the excavations as well as the headless statue of the same God of the Roman times with a robe and a cane and goat legs. The city is referred as one of the Cretan cities which had signed in 170 B.C. the treaty with Evmenis II of Pergamum. Yrtakina, Lisos, Elyros and Tarra had developed a joint economic cooperation and monetary union, using common currency in their transactions. However, as an independent city it had its own currency, depicting the sea kingdom, meaning that its navigation was known. It used to be the capital city of the Achaeans in Western Crete and it was destroyed by the Dorians without being reconstructed ever since.
It is situated near the village Rodovani in the province of Selinon and it is 60 kilometers from Chania.  It was built on Kefala hill with a panoramic view to the sea providing the opportunity to its residents to see their ships in the port of Syia. Even though it was a Mediterranean city, it had two harbors, Syia and Aisos.  It was certainly an agricultural city, but at the same time it had developed its trade, shipping and small craft industries. There were also workshops for copper processing as well as workshops that manufactured weapons, bows and slings. The bronze goat that the Elyrians had sent to Delphi came from these workshops. This goat was breastfeeding the two toddlers, the sons of Apollo, Fylakides and Fylandros who were born in the nearby city of Tarra.
Additionally, a construction was found as well as bows, topmasts and pillars that ensure the existence of a temple dedicated to Apollo who was worshipped there. A marble statue of a philosopher in a Hellenic-Roman art form in a superhuman size that today is kept in the Archaeological Museum of Chania, comes from Elyros. Apart from the joint monetary unit that was established in the transactions with the other nearby cities (Yrtakina, Lisos and Tarra) the city had its own currency because it was an autonomous and independent city. Judging by the inscriptions on the coins which depicted a goat with an arrow on the one side and a bee on the other, it seems that the inhabitants of Elyros used to be hunters and also involved in beekeeping. Elyros was among the Cretan cities that signed alliance with Evmenis II of Pergamum. It used to be the Episcopal seat and was destroyed by the Saracens.
The Gouvernetou Monastery or Lady of the Angels as it is called is located on Akrotiri peninsula, north of Chania.
The Monastery is considered one of the oldest monasteries of Crete. It was built in 1537 in an altitude of 260 meters by the monks of the Catholic Monastery that was abandoned due to piracy.  The construction started during the Venetian rule but the works stopped due to the invasion of the Turks. The completion of the temple was realized many years later under a special license by the Turks.
It resembles a Venetian fortress with towers at its four corners and crenellations out of which only two survive today.  Their dimensions are 40 x 50 meters and there are also 50 cells on the two floors.
There are two chapels: of Agii Deka and St. John Xenos dedicated to the founder of the Monastery. During the revolution of 1821, the Turks directed their hatred towards the Monastery which was common practice in other monasteries of Crete, too. They slaughtered seven monks and burnt it down. In the revolution of 1866, Michael the abbot of the Monastery played a significant role undertaking a mediating and informative role among the consulate of Greece and Russia, since he was a person of increased prestige and trust.
The Patriarchal and Stavropigetic Monastery of Agia Triada, Tzagarolon constitutes one of the most significant monasteries during the late Venetian rule in Crete with a rich contribution to the History and Education of the island.
It is located on the foot of the mountain range of Stavros, in the area of «Tzombomylos» on cape Meleha.
According to the files from the archives of Venice, it was built by the brothers Jeremiah and Laurence Tzagarolos that came from a big Venetian family having a powerful influence not only on the Orthodox population but also on the Catholic Venetians.
Jeremiah was a great scholar, friend of the Patriarch of Alexandria, Meletios Pigas and a candidate himself for the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He knew Greek and Latin, as it is evidenced from his writings and the bilingual inscriptions which are kept in large numbers in the buildings of the Monastery.  The building which he designed and constructed was particularly influenced by Sebastiano Serlio, a Veronian architect of the 16th century.
Its reconstruction was assigned by the Venetian authorities to Jeremiah Tzagarolos, the monk of the Monastery of Agia Kyriaki in 1611. Jeremiah started the reconstruction of a very big building that his brother Laurence continued after his death, around 1634.The works continued till 1645 when the fortress-like monastery was attacked by the Turks. The Turks occupied the monastery and to be precise after the defection of the Dutch officer with 65 soldiers to the Turkish camp.
During the various revolutions that followed, the Monastery had the fate of other monasteries in Crete. Thus, in 1821, the Monastery even though it was a stavropigetic one, it was burnt down by the Turks. Its documents and files with valuable items disappeared. The Monastery was among the four richer monasteries of Crete and it was deserted. During the revolution of 1866, through the mediation of the English ambassador Dixon, the Monastery avoided the catastrophic consequences and the devastating moods of the Turks. In the revolution of 1896-97, it was converted into a hospital for the rebels and also a strategic area for their actions. Keeping the tradition of education which flourished in the Monastery during the Venetian rule, a boarding school was established in 1833. In 1892, a seminary was founded which functioned till 1905 with a small suspension of his operation during the revolutionary period of 1896-97. Until recently, a religious school was in operation inside the Monastery which provided education to the clergymen of Crete.
In the county of Apokoronou, the magnificent Holy Monastery of St. Georgios Karydiou is located. In the files of 1600, it is reported that there was a small settlement called Karydi due to the many walnut trees that existed there. During the Ottoman occupation, the settlement of Karydi was dispersed but the priest of the village in order to keep the holy church of St Georgios unharmed in the deserted now village, was forced to pay tax to the occupiers.  After some time, the area became dependant to the Holy Monastery of Agia Triada in Akrotiri in Chania.
This relationship broke up in 1923 and the biggest part of its fortune was distributed by the Reserved Fund to the veterans of Asia Minor and Balkan wars. Over the years, the area where the Monastery is situated started to decay; however, due to the sensitivity of the director of the 13th Byzantine Department Mr. Michael Andrianakis the first reconstruction works were realized. In 1996, the Holy Monastery of Agios Georgios Karydiou was declared a Monument by the Holy Synod.
In 1860, the construction of a newer huge oil mill that belongs to the Monastery was completed which consists of twelve arches and it is incorporated to older buildings in the area.  In the second oil mill, four olive mills of the latest type are preserved till today with more than one millstone moved by animal power.  The above justify the rural nature of the Monastery.
With the establishment of the Holy Monastery, reverent Dorotheos the current Archimandrite and Abbot of the Holy Monastery of St. Georgios Karydiou became monk.
North the Monastery of Gouverneto, the Monastery of St. John the Hermit is situated which is mostly known as Catholic.
This stone complex which has been covered in silence and isolation since 16th century constitutes an architectural marvel and a real pleasure. In this mystic natural hiding place, the leaders of the uprising of Western Crete against the Venetians were gathered to organize the famous revolution of Kantanoleou.
West and next to the Monastery a cave exists where St. John, the founder of the Monastery lived and died. The depopulation of the Monastery occurred when the monks abandoned it in order to save themselves from the pirates and built, as it is believed, Gouvernetou Monastery in a nearby and safer place.
The Monastery of Gonia is close to the village of Kolymbari.  It is dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary.  The neighboring monasteries that existed before the 17th century were a lot but broke up in order to establish the communal monastery of Gonia.  In this new monastery the Cypriot monk Vlasios lived and started the reconstruction of the Monastery in 1618. After his death, he was succeeded by the wise monk and hymnographer Benedict Tzagarola who finished the construction of the monastery in 1634, as the inscription shows. The side aisles of the church were built in 1805 and the bell tower in 1899. The financial aid for the reconstruction of the temple in its early stage by the family of Georgios Mormoris was important.  On June 13th 1645, 50.000 Turkish troops landed on the beach near the Monastery.  The monastery burnt down and those of the monks who escaped the disaster left. Abbot Benedict resorted to the Ionian Islands where he died.  In 1651, a few monks returned and life began again in the Monastery. In 1662, the active abbot Isaiah Diakopoulos, after his trip to Constantinople, declared the Monastery stravropigetic.
After the acquisition of certain privileges, a school started to operate where the monks, the clergymen and the children of the neighboring villages were taught how to read and write. In the revolution of 1821, the Monastery was looted by the Turks, however the monks had arranged for the transfer of 40 icons of exquisite craftsmanship to areas that guaranteed greater security;
The icons returned after the revolution.
In 1841, it was destroyed once again. The national role of the Monastery was significant during the great uprising of 1866-69. The great contribution of the monks Parthenis Peridis and Parthenis Kelaidis is widely-known. In June 1867, the Monastery was cannonaded by the Turks; army units disembarked and plundered it burning its library.
Colonel Timol Vasaos camped in the area for 20 days in February 1897 when he went with 1500 soldiers to conquer Crete and declare its union with Greece.
During the German invasion the role the Monastery played was also significant. Beside the Monastery the Orthodox Academy of Crete is situated, an institution with an international reputation and wide recognition, as far as the activities and the spiritual work are concerned.
The Holy Monastery of Timios Prodromos is located in the peninsula of Akrotiri. It was established during the Byzantine era before 1453 (the conquest of Constantinople) meaning the end of the Byzantine Empire.
During the Venetian and Turkish rule, the Monastery functioned as a shelter for the virgins whose integrity was threatened by the invaders.
The nuns in Korakies Monastery formulated the soul of the future Greek mother, taught them how to read and write, taught them weaving, cooking, embroidery but mainly the old Cretan folk art.
The Monastery operated continually till the revolution of 1821, when it was destroyed by the Turks and the nuns became the victims of a brutal assault.  With the exception of the church which suffered serious damage every building got burned, the few remaining nuns left and the place was deserted for about 45 years.
Officially the Monastery functioned again in 1867. The nuns Kataphygi and Christonymphi, that both came from the village of Lakkous near Omalos, had an active role in the revolution of 1866. They followed the fighters, among who were their brothers.
The first abbess was Dionysia Daskalaki from Kontomari.  Before taking over the direction of the Monastery which she kept for almost two decades, she lived for four years (1870-1874) in Jerusalem and she brought from there a set of rules (Typikon) of the Greek-orthodox Monastery of saints Constantine and Helen, of the Monastic Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulcher. The abbess set these rules as the basis for the organization and the operation of the Monastery.
The new boom ceased with the outbreak of the Cretan Revolution in 1896-97. When the nuns heard that the Turks were approaching Akrotiri with the purpose to burn the Monastery they abandoned it and resorted to the safe Monasteries of Agia Triada and Gouvernetou.
After the Turks burnt down Korakies they descended to the Monastery in the middle of the night, broke into, looted the cells and poured oil with the view to burn it. Luckily, they did not have enough time and they were stopped by the bullets of the Cretan rebels. Those groups of rebels were under the command of the president of the Revolutionary Executive Committee Ι. Sfakianakis and his glorious supporters in this struggle. Those supporters were: Eleftherios Venizelos, Emm. Mountakis, Myloyiannaki brothers, the deacon Agathaggelos Xerouhakis, who later became Bishop of Chania and others. The rebels had commandeered the Monastery and had their barracks there.
During the Liberation Struggle against the Turks the nuns were in the Monasteries of Agia Triada and Gouvernetou helping the rebels who resorted there and also taking care of the patients.
In August 1897, after the revolution had finished, the nuns returned to their monastery and found it destroyed once more. So, the reconstruction of the monastery started again.
In 1903, a Housekeeping School was established in the Monastery where girls from Korakies and other villages such as Akrotiri, Apokoronou, Kissamou as well as from the city of Chania were trained. About 600 girls were fully trained in special crafts and many of these girls later worked professionally in various fields. After having functioned for about four decades, the School closed due to World War II.
During the battle of Crete, in the spring of 1941, the Akrotiri peninsula served as the headquarters of Foreign Forces. The Korakies area was the place where there was the English battle zone and as a consequence the Holy Monastery of St. John the Baptist was found in the middle of the battle.
The nuns spent these days mainly in the church praying and chanting the Supplication Canon and also hums to Virgin Mary Mother of Jesus Christ.
Finally, the day came when our country was conquered on Tuesday 27th May, 1941. The Holy Monastery remained under the German control till the end of the Occupation in 1944. Despite this control the nuns managed to secretly help the Resistance.
Nowadays eight nuns live in the Monastery of Timios Prodromos.  More particularly, they are involved in editing the Holy Fathers’ books in foreign languages. Recently, the Catholic of the church was completely inaugurated, which includes two chapels – St. Andrew’s of Crete, St. Gerasimos’ and St Akakios’ the new ascetics as well as Virgin Mary’s the Portaitissa. It celebrates on August 29th and January 7th.
The Holy Patriarchal-Stavropigetic Monastery of Chrysopigi or the Monastery of Life-Giving Fountain of Chartofilaka, is located in Chania – Crete in a distance of 3 kilometers from the city on the way to the port of Souda.
It is dedicated to Virgin Mary the Life Giving Spring and celebrates on Easter Friday. The original temple belonged to the family of Chartofilakon and its establishment goes back to the beginning of the 15th century.  It received a lot of invasions and suffered severe damage from the Turks and the German conquerors of Crete.
Filotheos Skoufos the Abbot of the Monastery and also an iconographer was proved to be a brave warrior. Along with other 34 monks, he defended the Monastery so as not to fall in the hands of the Turks. He managed to escape with great difficulty along with two other comrades to Souda. Eventually, he took refuge to the Ionian Islands rescuing various sacred objects and heirlooms. He evolved into a great icon painter. His works are exhibited in many museums. The Monastery was declared Stavropigetic as it becomes apparent from a signet of the year 1681. A few years later, in 1692 Venice sent Admiral Domenico Motsenigo to Crete with the view to siege Chania mobilizing the locals. The mission did not succeed. Leaving the Monastery he burnt it so as not to be used as a fortress by the Turks. Just before the revolution of 1821 on Easter Day there was a vicious massacre of the monks by the Janissaries. Thus, the Monastery was condemned to desolation and obscurity. It was after 1830 that it managed to come out of this situation and play its high Christian role. In 1976, the Monastery was turned into a nunnery. An Ecclesiastical Museum also operates there with icons, patriarchal documents, manuscript codices, Venetian decrees etc.
Chrysoskalitissa Monastery is situated on a steep rock in Western Crete in an altitude of 35 meters overlooking the Libyan Sea. It belongs to Kouneni community within a distance of 73 kilometers from Chania. The Monastery owes its name to one step out of the 98 that lead to the temple which according to the tradition was gold.
The legend says that this gold step was sold by the Patriarchate in order to face the serious financial problems that had arisen in the early years of the Ottoman rule.
The temple was double-aisled dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary and Holy Trinity. Additionally, in a nearby spot there was the Monastery of St. Nickolas during the first years of the Ottoman rule. However, both of them deserted for many years. The revival of the Monastery started in 1855. At that time, monk Manassis Glynias from Askyfou village who was in the Monastery of Odigitria in Messara, renovated the Monastery building a guesthouse, warehouses and cells.  The present church was rebuilt in 1894 and inaugurated the same year. In 1940, the Monastery turned into a nunnery by the decision of the Holy Synod.
Georgios Kantanoleon the leader of the rebels against the Venetians has been buried in the Monastery.
Not very far from the Monastery Elaphonisi or Laphonisi is located and according to History it is a place of martyrdom. Indeed, on Easter Day in 1824, the Egyptian Ibrahim Pasha massacred 600 women and children and also 40 warriors who had escaped to this secret islet with the impression that it provided more security.
The sea changed its color because of the blood of the so many innocent victims and for many years skulls and bones were found in the region to remind another great human sacrifice on the altar of free thought and national values.

The prefecture of Chania has the most caves in Crete. Below there are the most significant caves of Chania.
Southwest the village of Asi Gonia that is within the distance of 62 kilometers of Chania, Chainospilios is situated on a steep cliff in the area of Sykia.
It owes its name to Chainides namely the Cretan rebels that used the cave as their base of operations. In 1866, the revolutionary committee was established there as well as the interim government of Crete that was assigned by the General Assembly of the Cretans in February 1867. In December 1868, the Turks surrounded the cave in order to arrest the members of the committee and occupy the village. Many were captured and killed, however the village did not fall to the enemy’s hands. Once more during the German occupation, Chainospilios cave served the national affairs.
Finally, it has to be noted that Pavlos Gyparis, the famous fighter for Macedonia and adjutant of Eleftherios Venizelos was born in the village of Asi Gonia,
The ancient cave of Polyphimos called Eligia or Spiliara is situated southeast the village of Livada and it is 67 kilometers from Chania, in the region of Sougia, There are stalactites in this cave. Due to the fact that there are many similarities with the cave that Homer describes as the Cyclops’s cave, it is believed that this is the cave that the familiar incident with Odysseus and his companions took place.
In the region of Karavotopos in Kokkino Chorio which is 27 kilometers from Chania the cave of Petsi is located. During the revolution of 1821, 150 women and children found shelter there in order to be saved.  However, they did not survive from the fury of the Turks who massacred them.  It is said that the blood of these innocent victims gave its name to the village which was since called Kokkino Chorio (Red Village).
In Lagnos gorge, southwest Vafes village within distance of about 37 kilometers of Chania the cave of Kryonerida is located with a poor stone decoration, however, with a rich presence at the forefront of the historical developments.
In August 1821, pashas Resit and Osman slaughtered 130 warriors, women and children after a brave resistance of three days.
On the southern foothills of Lefka Ori and within a short distance from Fragokastello, in the village of Kapsodasos which is 78 kilometers from Chania on the North Slope, the Agiaomatsi cave is located.
It used to be a devotional cave since the Late Minoan Times till the Roman era.
The cave of Daskaloyianni Sfakion is situated in the area of Vryssi, west the region of Sfakia about 73 kilometers from Chania.  It owes its
name to the widely-known hero-rebel Ioannis Vlachos or Daskaladoyiannis.
In the revolution of 1770, the mint was established there.
In an altitude of 1100 meters and on the way from Xyloskalo Omalou to Gkigkilo, the cave of Demonospilio exists with three rooms of immense interest. It is regarded as the home of demonic beings.
The cave of Stavros Akrotiriou served the devotional needs during the Hellenistic period. Rough explorations brought to light many archaeological findings that are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Chania. During the Ottoman era it was used many times as a refuge for the persecuted Christians.
Passing Gouvernetou Monastery and shortly before Catholico there is the cave of Panagia Arkoudiotissa.  Its name originates from the huge stalagmite that exists inside it and has the shape of a bear. It used to be a devotional cave in which archaeological items such as a clay plate with a relief depiction of Apollo, another one depicting Artemis, a small statue of a nymph as well as figurines of satyrs and others were found.
The cave Catholico Akrotiriou which is also called the cave of St. John the Hermit is located near Catholico. It is 151 meters long. A multitude of huge stalactites offer their beauty to the cave that St. John lived and died. It is considered as one of the most remarkable caves in Crete.
The cave of Keraspiliotissa Kydonias is located in the village of Vrysses about 16 kilometers from Chania. Inside the cave some Neolithic items were found and it functioned as devotional.
The cave Ellinospilio Kissamou is situated on the coastal region of Afrata community, north Gonia Monastery and about 37 kilometers from Chania. It was discovered in 1889 and remains from the Neolithic and Minoan era were also found. It has a rich stone decoration and in the antiquity it played a devotional role.
The cave Xotikospilios Kissamou is situated on the coastal settlement of Keramoti in the community of Amigdalokefali, which is about 68 kilometers from Chania. During the Ottoman rule a group massacre took place among the women and children who had sought refuge in the cave for protection.
The cave of Zoure Selinou is located in the village of Azogyres, in a distance of 73 kilometers from Chania.  It is a holly cave connected with the story of the 99 Holly Fathers. In this cave the 99 Good-bearing Fathers took refuse led by St. John the Hermit. There, the 98 Fathers lived as ascetics and died. St. John left the 98 members of his escort and resorted to the cave of Gouvernetou in order to devote himself completely to the God. He died there struck by the arrows of a hunter who mistakenly thought he was his prey.
The cave Agia Sophia Kissamou is located in Topolia village that is 46 kilometers far from Chania. The cave was explored and mapped. There is archaeological interest because according to the evidence the cave was used for devotional reasons. Every year on the 25th December the Holy service of Christmas is realized inside the church in the cave by the Bishop of Kissamos and Selinon.
A small church of Agia Sophia is inside the cave.

Source of publication 21th issue In-On

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