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Savvathiana Monastery near Rogdia

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Located near Rogdia, the Savatiana or Savvathiana Monastery is nestled in a picturesque, well-protected wooded area at an altitude of 440m and 20km west of Heraklion city. The monastery is one of several that operated during the Venetian period in this region, which was later brutally destroyed by the Turks.

The Savvathiana Monastery was constructed on a naturally fortified position, possibly to shield the monks from persistent pirate attacks before the Venetian period. During the Venetian Occupation of Crete, it was likely the most robust monastery in the area, even more so than the renowned Agia Pelagia Monastery on the north side of Agia Pelagia beach, which later became a dependency of Savatiana.

A stunning path, enveloped in lush vegetation, leads to the monastery entrance. Just 200m from the monastery, you can visit the cavernous St. Anthony church, which may have once functioned as an independent monastery. The church features a newer aisle devoted to Saint Savvas and is accessible via a picturesque trail with a very old stone bridge. The main temple of Savatiano, dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary and the Forty Martyrs, is relatively new. The monastery has undergone renovations in recent years while maintaining its original style. Within the complex, visitors can also see the monastery cemetery, ossuary, a former mill, the visitors’ dining room, the old guest room, the nuns’ cells, and the old water tower.

Currently operating as a nunnery, the monastery houses the ancient “Great are You, Lord” icon painted by Ioannis Kornaros, and a copy of which is still preserved in Toplou Monastery. The icon was thought to be lost until 1991 when the Archaeological Authorities cleaned a pitch-black icon to reveal the old painting.

Among the monastery’s abbots was Maximos Marnounios, a renowned scholar of the Venetian Era. Additionally, the tombs of two significant rebels against the Turks, Evmenios Vourexakis and Iraklis Kokkinidis, can be found in Savatiana.

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