The Panagia Faneromeni Monastery, also known as Virgin Mary of Gournia, is situated northwest of Pachia Ammos and 24km south of Agios Nikolaos. This male monastery is perched on a steep slope at an altitude of 540 meters, offering breathtaking views of the sea. The two-aisled monastery church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Zoodohos Pigi (Source of Life), is built within a cave.
As one of the most renowned monasteries in eastern Crete, the Panagia Faneromeni Monastery attracts pilgrims from all over the island, especially on August 15th, its celebration day. Some even arrive on foot to fulfill a vow.
Constructed on a steep incline, the monastery resembles a fortress overlooking the sea. Its strategic position reflects the defensive nature of the Faneromeni Monastery against the frequent pirate attacks along the Cretan coast. The architecture is reminiscent of monasteries that were restored in the late 16th and 17th centuries.
Legend has it that a shepherd once lost his best ram every afternoon. One day, he decided to follow the ram and witnessed it drinking water flowing from the cave. As the shepherd approached, the icon of the Virgin Mary was “revealed” to him. When he took the icon home, it vanished, only to be found again in the cave where the monastery was eventually built. It is said that the same icon reappears and mysteriously disappears again, particularly on the Assumption and other Marian feasts.
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