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St. George Selinaris monastery

  • ( 4.7 ) / 5

Place description

The male monastery of Saint George Selinaris is nestled in the heart of the Selinari gorge, close to Vrachasi village and Neapolis. The National Road, which connects Heraklion to Agios Nikolaos, runs alongside the monastery, making it a popular stop for many visitors daily. Cretans believe it is bad luck to pass through the canyon without stopping at St. George, a tradition that dates back to when travelers would stop to rest with their animals.

As per tradition, a monk from Rhodes named Nikolaos was guided by God to a location where he discovered the icon of St. George, leading him to build a church. Nikolaos resided at Selinari until his death, at which point he was buried in a small cave at the summit of Anavlohos mount, which he had carved himself. Several years after his passing, sailors from Rhodes were led to Nikolaos’ tomb by a shining star. Recognizing this as a divine sign, they transported his bones back to Rhodes. Anavlohos cave can be found on the eastern side of the gorge, directly opposite the monastery. The exact location can be identified by looking up at the gorge walls and spotting a large cross. While the cave is accessible by foot, climbing the steep path requires good physical fitness.

During the Ottoman Era, it is believed that the Turks attempted to destroy the monastery, as evidenced by the three bullets embedded in the old icon of Saint George, which is also considered miraculous.

A visit to the monastery is well worth it, as you can admire the stunning beauty of the lush canyon and cool off at the local spring. The monks are very welcoming and eager to share the history of the monastery. The central church’s main body is modern, as are the wall paintings in the chapel of St. George (the original temple built by Nikolaos). A modern nursing home also operates here, constructed on the ruins of the old monastery cells.

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