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Panagia Spiliotissa Monastery in Houdetsi

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The Panagia Spiliotissa Monastery is situated 22km south of Heraklion, nestled between the villages of Houdetsi and Agios Vasilios. Concealed within the verdant Spiliotissa canyon, it can be effortlessly reached by traversing a 500m long green path from Houdetsi. Along this route, you’ll encounter the Byzantine churches of St. John and Anthony, as well as two ancient water mills.

Built within the rock, the temple is dedicated to the Assumption (celebrated on August 15). While some believe it was initially founded around 1000 AD, the prevailing theory is that the monastery was established in the early 17th century. Another possibility is that the church was constructed in the 11th century but only later functioned as a monastery. The church’s foundation is connected to the discovery of the Panagia (Virgin Mary) icon in the cave where the temple now stands.

Eventually, the monastery became affiliated with the Sinai St. Catherine Monastery, to which it still belongs today. Originally a male monastery, it now operates as a small convent.

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