Mountain Monasteries

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We drive today to visit the Monastery of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity).  We pass ancient orchards, the branches green on top of thick, twisted and gnarled  trunks.thumbnail_IMG_1600thumbnail_IMG_1599.jpg

 

 

Orange trees burdened with fruit compete with the olive groves for the most popular tree on Crete.  Boxes of bees litter the countryside, the thyme honey recovered ever so sweet.  When you arrive at the monastery, initially you are not impressed.  From the parking lot it is a rather plain, nondescript building.

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But once in the courtyard, every changes.

The grounds inside were spectacular…roses, fruit trees, lavendar…such variety, a real visual feast for your eyes and nose.    The underside of the central dome featured the face of Jesus looking down upon everyone.  dome

The altar bright and intricate.

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Carved wooden seats for the monks lined the walls.  Offering candles lit the entry.candles

Off to the side was a little museum filled items of gold and silver, robes, crosses, manuscripts, wooden carving and other historical relics of the monastery.   Built in 1634, the church has played and continues to play an important role on the ecclesiastical life on the island of Crete.  The monks also run a profitable and award winning olive oil and wine making facility.  We visited the cellars and of course sampled the wine and oil, heck, we even bought a couple bottles to enjoy later.

Further down the road is the Gouverneto Monastery.  Unfortunately for us it was closed for the day, so we instead took the trail down to the abandoned Katholiko Monastery and the cave of St. John the Hermit.

Supposedly, Saint John founded the Katholiko Monastery, perhaps the oldest monastery in Crete.  It is said that while praying he hit his stick upon a rock and from thence forth sanctified water flowed with curative powers.  In his later life, he wandered the hills naked, crouched over with age.  Mistaken for a wild animal, St. John the Hermit was shot by a hunter.  His last request was to be taken to his cave to die.  His bones were found and are interned in the cave today.

After we explored the cave, we made our way further down the hill to the abandoned Katholiko Monastery. The trail ends at the monastery and a large bridge that spans the gorge. Not wanting to stop until we made it to the sea, we found a steep little scramble off to the side and arrived at the riverbed. We then followed it another kilometer to the sea. There was an small inlet that was once a used as a harbor, and outside the harbor waves from the Aegean Sea crashed upon the rocky shores. Luckily there was a nice breeze blowing as we climbed back up to our car.

We finished the day with a nice dinner watching the sun set beyond the little Chania Harbor.

It is up early tomorrow…..we do an epic European Hike…The Samaria Gorge!!!!!!