The monastic tradition in Crete has been a long one. For over a thousand years, hermits have been coming to the island to find seclusion in caves and groups of monks have set up communities in isolated nooks and crannies. Since Crete is rocky and mountainous, plenty of places were available. At its height, the island supported over 1000 monasteries. Now only about 40 are active though abandoned sites are everywhere. Akrotiri Penisula has over a dozen former monasteries and churches, a few of which are still active.
The first one we visited, and the most impressive, is Agia Triada Monastery, dedicated to the Holy Trinity. It is unclear when the monastery began but the most ancient of the current buildings date back to the 17th century (the Venetian period). The main facade by the parking lot definitely looks Venetian. It also includes a mounting post which the children thought was cool.
|Agia Triada Monastery, Akrotiri Peninsula|
|On the mounting block|
|Over the entrance|
Through the main door is a courtyard with the monastery's church right in the middle. A sign in English warned visitors not to take pictures inside the church, so I am unable to show you the amazing iconostasis (the highly decorated partition between the main body of the church and the sanctuary) or the other beautiful Byzantine-style icons found throughout the small church.
|The exterior of the church|
The courtyard has many plants all over, as well as the doors to the monks' cells.
|Monks' cells and gardens|
|A nice blend of practical fruit trees and beautiful flowers|
|Blooming like crazy|
This monastery also has a museum with various treasures from the history of the place, from books to icons to sacred vessels. It also has medals awarded to the monks for supporting the resistance during World War II. At least, the guide book says all that is in the museum. We arrived on a Wednesday and the monastery museum is closed on Wednesdays. Which is a shame, because I wanted to buy some of their hand-made olive oil at the gift shop.
We did spot the staircase on the right and go up to the roof of the church. There was nothing up there other than a nice view of the courtyard.
|View of courtyard/front entrance from the church's roof|
From here, we went up the hills to the Gouvernetou Monastery, which was also closed on Wednesdays.
A path from this monastery leads over the hills to some cave churches which will be next Sunday's church!