The coastal Monastery of Panagia Odigitria can be found at the base of the Spatha peninsula, approximately 26km west of Chania and 2.5km north of Kolimbari. It is also referred to as the Lady of the Angels Monastery of Gonia (Gonia = Corner) due to its position on the western edge-corner of Chania Bay.
Established in the 17th century, the monastery soon thrived as a rich monastic tradition developed in Spatha, and the monks congregated in Gonia. The Gonia Monastery has played a significant role in local history, often serving as a refuge for Cretan rebels and consequently being destroyed numerous times by various conquerors. Evidence of this can be seen in a cannonball embedded in the east wall.
The original 14th-century church is situated in the current cemetery, close to the existing monastery complex. The complex is encircled by a high wall, reminiscent of a Venetian castle. The temple is dedicated to the Virgin Hodhegetria (celebrated on August 15th). Surrounding the temple are numerous other monastery buildings, including monk cells, an abbey, dining room, stores, cellars, and more. The Orthodox Academy of Crete, gym, pool, schools, county court, and other facilities are also housed within the monastery. In the monastery’s museum, visitors can view ancient icons, such as those by Constantine Palaiokapas.
Several notable individuals have served as abbots of the monastery, including Misael Apostolidis, who taught the Greek language to the Greek King Otto and was the first rector of the University of Athens. Others include Joachim Tzagarolos, Parthenios Kelaidis, and Parthenios Pieridis.
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