Katholiko Monastery

katholiko Monastery: exploring a hidden religious treasure

The Katholiko Monastery is located 20 kilometers from the city of Chania in Avlaki Gorge, near the northern shores of the Akrotiri Peninsula. It is one of the most interesting destinations for cultural, architectural, and religious reasons. It is not that popular because it is only accessible via trail trekking on a stone route. The hike is not hard, and it is only 30 to 40 minutes long. The only hard part of this path is the return, which is up the hill you just followed. Let us introduce you to Katholiko Monastery.


Katholiko Monastery is considered to be the oldest in Crete, dating back to the 11th century. The monastery complex was built on the site of Saint John the Hermit’s or Xenos’s cave.

Following his death, the vast territory became a haven for asceticism, with several caves used by monks to practice their solitude. Many of them also constructed their own cells on the adjacent cliffs.

The Hermit’s cave was converted into a chapel where the saint is celebrated on the 20th of September. The rest of the monastery complex was erected in the 17th century, and its ruins can be visited today.

The reason the monastery was abandoned is because the shores of Crete became a target for piracy and the monks had to retreat to the location where Gouverneto Monastery stands.

The journey

As we mentioned above, the only way to access the monastery of Katholiko is by foot. Starting from Gouverneto, where you can park your car, you continue on a stone-carved path that leads into the Avlaki Gorge.

The hike is not challenging, but it would be advisable to wear good footwear. The path towards Katholiko provides stunning views and many attractions, like the abandoned monastery of Saint Anthony, Arkoudospilios cave, and monk cells on the cliffs.

Back in the day, when the monastery was still operable, this path was used by many pilgrims who travelled to pay respect to the saint. It is mentioned in the old scripts (Census of 1637) that the main income of the monastery was solely from visitors.

Saint Anthony Monastery (abandoned)
Saint Anthony Monastery (abandoned)
Katholiko Monastery: Hermit caves and cells
Katholiko Monastery: Hermit caves and cells

the cave of saint john the hermit

Reaching your destination, you will descend a few stairs that will lead you there. At the site, you will encounter the monastery’s complex with a stunning bridge, monk cells, a bell tower, the chapel and the Saint’s cave.

The Hermit’s cave is 135 meters long, with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites decorating its ceiling and floor. Both in the beginning and the end, there are icons of the saint and others with candles.

Katholiko Monastery: Stairs leading to Katholiko
Katholiko Monastery: Stairs leading to Katholiko
Katholiko Monastery: Cave of Saint John the Hermit
Katholiko Monastery: Cave of Saint John the Hermit

There is a carved tank that was probably used by the saint for gathering water and at the end, there is also a big stone that is said to be his tomb.

All the way through the cave, there are scripts engraved on the walls, and some of them are really old from pilgrims!

If you wish to learn more about Saint John the hermit:

The small gulf of katholiko

At the end of Avlaki Gorge, there is a small gulf with turquoise waters. The terrain forms a small cove that is protected by winds. You will encounter a small arch where the monks probably stored their boats. Also, you will see a stone in the shape of a ship, which, legend says, was a pirate ship that was turned into stone by the curses of the abbot of Katholiko. So if you wish to have a complete experience of this small journey, pack a beach towel and your swimsuit too!

THINGS TO SEE AND DO at katholiko monastery

Pay a visit at Gouverneto Monastery
Enjoy stunning views at Avlaki Gorge
Hike to Saint Anthony Monastery
Visit Arkoudospilios cave
Take pictures of your surroundings
Explore Katholiko Monastery
Visit Saint John's chapel
Head to the Hermits cave
Swim at Katholiko cove

Photos featuring katholiko monastery

How to Get There

As we mentioned previously, Katholiko Monastery is accessible only by foot by crossing Avlaki Gorge. You can start your journey by getting to Gouverneto Monastery, which is a delightful journey through the breathtaking landscapes of Crete. The monastery is located approximately 20 kilometers (35 minutes by car) from the city of Chania on the Akrotiri Peninsula. 

By Car:

The most convenient way to get to Gouverneto Monastery and, in extension, closer to Katholiko Monastery is by renting a car in Chania. Once you have a car, go west out of Chania. Follow the signs to the town of Kounoupidiana. Basically, take the road that leads to Chania Airport. Once you arrive at the airport, follow the signs to Agia Triada. Once at Agia Triada Monastery, follow the signs to Gouverneto (4 kilometers). Enjoy the lovely trip along Crete’s northern shore. On your way to the monastery, you will pass through picturesque towns, olive orchards, and vineyards. Keep an eye out for signs pointing to Agia Triada Monastery. The road to the monastery is properly indicated. Then follow them to Gouverneto. When you get to the monastery, there will be a parking place where you can safely leave your car. From there, the entrance to Avlaki Gorge leading to Katholiko Monastery is a few meters away, close to a monument outside the monastery. 

By Bus:

Unfortunately, there are no direct buses to Gouverneto monastery. If you prefer public transportation, take the KTEL bus from Chania to the Agia Triada Monastery. Buses depart from Chania’s principal bus station. Check the current bus timetable, which may change based on the season. Buses typically operate throughout the day.

Taxi or Tour: Another alternative is to take a taxi or join a guided tour of Agia Triada Monastery, Gouverneto, and Katholiko. This will allow you to relax and enjoy the lovely scenery of Avlaki Gorge without having to worry about directions or transportation problems. You will visit all the nearby attractions, including the Arkoudospilios and Saint John’s Caves.

Whether you drive, take a bus, or book a tour, the journey to the Katholiko Monastery is an unforgettable experience that culminates in an investigation of this ancient and magnificent place.


In conclusion, Katholiko Monastery is a hidden gem in Crete, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore ancient architecture, religious history, and stunning natural landscapes. The monastery’s remote and tranquil location, coupled with its historical and religious significance, makes it a must-visit for those interested in history, architecture, and spiritual heritage.


Wear appropriate shoes!
The hike to Katholiko Monastery can be challenging, especially the last part, so wear comfortable and sturdy shoes.
First stop!
If you wish to visit Gouverneto Monastery first, you should wear modest attire. The monastery is active and might deny you entrance.
Gouverneto Monastery
Water & Sun protection!
Stay hydrated during your visit by carrying a water bottle and drinking plenty of water, especially during the warmer months Also, the sun can be merciless, so make sure to apply sun block often.
Guided Tours!
Consider joining a group tour covering all the nearby attractions. The hike is easy, and the views of both nature and monasteries are stunning.
Visit on a clear day!
The views of the surrounding landscape, such as the Aegean Sea and the Akrotiri Peninsula, are breathtaking on a clear day.
Respect both nature and sites!
Try avoiding littering the area so you can help retain its natural beauty. The monastery is pretty old and it would be best to avoid any reckless actions.

Destinations near Katholiko Monastery

More options for nearby locations to plan your vacations better!


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