Kera Kardiotissa Monastery

Panagia Kera A Marvel of Byzantine Art

Kera Kardiotissa Monastery is located 50 kilometers southeast of Heraklion, in a wooded area of the North Dikti Range, near the road leading to the Plateau of Lassithi. This is a historic monastery named after the adjacent communities of Kera and Ano Kera. Panagia Kera is a true gem of Byzantine art and a testament to the island’s rich cultural heritage. This ancient church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Panagia), is renowned for its exceptional frescoes, artifacts and architecture, which have captivated visitors and art enthusiasts for centuries.


Its exact foundation date is uncertain. The monastery’s foundation is thought to be linked to the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, after which it gets its name. Kera means Our Lady, and the icon is now housed at the Church of San Alfonso in Rome. San Lazaro (9th century) created the icon, which represents Panagia (Virgin Mary) carrying Jesus. According to legend, this icon was taken to Constantinople during the iconoclastic period, but miraculously recovered. Furthermore, the image was taken from a wine merchant during the Venetian Era and transferred to Rome, where it is still kept today. The icon was replaced in 1735 by another.

Panagia Kera Monastery: Icon of Virgin Mary
Panagia Kera Monastery: Icon of Virgin Mary

Symbol of resistance

Because of its fortified position, the monastery of Kera functioned as the revolutionary headquarters of the surrounding province throughout the Cretan upheavals and was hence subjected to numerous Turkish raids.

It was employed by the revolutionary army during World War II.

Kera is now a nunnery and is well worth a visit, especially if combined with a trip to the Lassithi Plateau.

Architecture and murals (frescoes)

The monastery’s gorgeous stone-built church is devoted to the Nativity of Mary (which is celebrated on September 8).

The current church was erected in four stages. There was originally a single-aisled temple, which was later expanded with two chambers and a smaller chapel.

The corners of the buildings are constructed externally from hewn stones and the facades of the two narthiks follow the standards of Byzantine architecture with blind brick semi-circular arches, brick window arches and ceramic decoration.

The oldest mural decoration is preserved in the area of ​​the current sanctuary (original temple).

The original 14th-century frescoes, which have been heavily destroyed by time, are typical.

Frescoes presenting the life of Christ to the Second Coming and many more.

You will discover murals of great artistic value that date to the 14th and 15th centuries and allude to the Macedonian School of Iconography.

Panagia Kera today is a women’s monastery and houses 6 nuns.

Photos featuring panagia kera kardiotissa monastery

How to Get There

To reach the Panagia Kera Monastery in Kera village, Heraklion, Crete, you can follow these directions:

By Car:

  1. Start in Heraklion city.
  2. Head south on Leoforos Knossou (Knossos Avenue) towards the village of Archanes.
  3. Continue on this road until you reach Kera village.
  4. Once in Kera, you can ask locals for directions to the Panagia Kera Monastery, as it’s a well-known landmark in the area.

By Public Transportation: Unfortunately, public transportation options to Kera village may be limited. It’s recommended to check with the local bus station in Heraklion for any available routes or bus services that may go in the direction of Kera village. However, keep in mind that public transportation may not take you directly to the monastery, and you might need to walk from the nearest bus stop.

As transportation options in rural areas of Crete can be limited, renting a car or using a taxi might be the most convenient way to reach Panagia Kera Monastery, allowing you more flexibility in exploring the region.


Panagia Kera remains an active place of worship to this day, and its significance extends beyond its artistic value. It serves as a place of pilgrimage for both locals and visitors who come to pay their respects to the Virgin Mary. It is definitely a place to find your inner peace, appreciate the surrounding area, and enjoy a day in a beautiful area far from the rhythm of a city.

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR AN ENJOYABLE VISIT TO panagia kera kardiotissa monastery

Respect the Rules!
Follow any rules and guidelines provided by the monastery. These rules may include restrictions on photography, appropriate attire, and behavior within sacred spaces.
Quiet Reflection!
Remember that monasteries are places of worship and reflection. Maintain a quiet and respectful demeanor during your visit, especially in areas where prayers or religious services are taking place.
Travel Light!
As monasteries often involve some walking, it's a good idea to travel light and carry only essential items to make your exploration more comfortable. Winter opening hours: 8:00–17:00 Summer opening hours: 7:00–19:00
Exploring the Surrounding Area!
After visiting the monastery, take some time to explore the charming village of Kera. You may find local shops, cafes, or scenic spots worth exploring.
September 8th!
You could visit the monastery the day of the festivities and see first hand the culture and the local celebrations.
Monasteries often rely on donations to maintain their historical sites. Consider making a small donation to support the upkeep of Panagia Kera if you can.

Destinations near kera kardiotissa

More options for nearby locations to plan your vacations better!


post a comment