Panagia Gonia Monastery

Monastery of Gonia (Panagia Odigitria): the unshaken faith of a fighter

Standing guard on the northwest shores of Crete, bathed in the Aegean sun, lies the Panagia Gonia Monastery (Panagia Odigitria), a captivating destination whispering tales of faith, resilience, and architectural brilliance. Located 25 kilometers from Chania and just 2 kilometers north from Kolympari village, this historic monastery beckons travelers seeking spiritual solace, cultural immersion, and breathtaking views.

The beginning

The monastery was originally founded by the Zealots Monks around the 9th century and was dedicated to Saint George.

Its original location was north of its current, at Menies on the Rodopou Peninsula.

It was built on the ruins of the ancient temple of Artemis Vritomartis (Diktynna).

The first monastery was abandoned due to frequent pirate raids.

It was rebuilt in the 17th century at its current location by a Cypriot monk named Vlassios, and his work was continued by the monk Venedict Tzogarolos.

The name Gonia means “corner” due to its graphic location atop a hill.

The location came to monk Vlassios by Panagia (Virgin Mary) as a vision, and that’s why the second name comes from Odigitria (meaning: the one that guides).

The monastery is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and celebrates on August 15th.


The Panagia Gonia Monastery played a huge role in the turbulent past of Crete. It is a symbol of faith and worship as well as a symbol of resilience against oppressors.

During the Ottoman occupation, the monastery of Gonia was essentially a small, remote fortress and, as such, was frequently used by Cretan rebels, who had the support of the monks.

The monastery was bombed several times from the 17th to the 20th century, either by the Turks or the Germans. In fact, there is still a cannon ball lodged in one of its walls from those bombartments.

The monastery’s premises were used as a hospital or a sanctuary for fighters throughout the history of Crete.

In 1897, the Monastery of Gonia was the place where 1500 Cretan fighters disembarked, starting the Cretan Revolution.

During WWII, its monks were imprisoned by the Nazi forces because they provided shelter to English fighters.


The architecture of the monastery is quite remarkable.

It is built in the Venetian style, with a narthex and a dome, as well as several smaller chapels scattered around the monastery.

From the outside, it appears to be a modest fort that was built to protect against pirate raids.

The monastery’s site is extremely impressive: it sits atop a hill in the south of the picturesque Rodopou peninsula, with a view of the beautiful Chania Bay from above.

Next to it, a well-known religious institution, the Orthodox Academy of Crete, was recently built.

The unique Ecclesiastical Museum of the Panagia Gonia Monastery is located inside the monastery.

If you’re interested in religious history, you must visit this museum.

It contains icons of high artistic merit from the 14th century onward, created by notable painters of the time.

It also has two historic monastic codexes, which outline the monastery’s history, as well as centuries-old texts and sacred utensils.

The museum also houses an interesting exhibition of vestments.


The Monastery of Gonia continues to play an important role in local religious and social life, as it has for centuries.

Its monks assist with the religious and spiritual needs of various communities, volunteer in charitable organizations run by the local Metropolis of Kisamos and Selinon, and educate in local schools.

In recent years, the monastery has also provided significant land for the development of facilities in the Kolymbari region.

For our little friends

Just a few meters from the Monastery of Gonia, there is a special place torn out from a known fairy tale. We all know the famous deer, Bambi!

There is a small sanctuary that hosts many beautiful deer, small and big. Its a great place for kids and adults alike to inspect these beautiful creatures, adding to the tranquility of the area.

How to Get There

By Car:

Panagia Gonia Monastery is located 26 kilometers west of Chania, roughly 30 minutes. Starting from Chania, you will have to get to the 090-E65 National Road, Chania-Kissamou. Following this road, you will reach Kolympari village, where you need to turn north (right) according to the signs. Gonia Monastery is located just outside the village after its port, around 1.5 kilometers. We advise you to use GPS during your travels.

By Bus:

There is a KTEL bus that has its final destination in Kolympari village. The last stop is near the port. From there, you will have to walk 500 meters (7 minutes) to reach the monastery. The walk is along the beautiful turquoise waters of the Aegean. 

By taxi:

For those who prefer a more direct route, taxis and private drivers are readily available to whisk you away to the monastery. However, fares can vary, so it’s wise to inquire beforehand.


In essence, the Panagia Gonia Monastery transcends history, weaving faith, resilience, and architectural beauty into an awe-inspiring tapestry. Seek spiritual solace within its walls, explore captivating frescoes, and lose yourself in panoramic Aegean vistas. Venture beyond to charming Kolymbari and uncover the essence of Cretan life.


Respectful Behavior!
Maintain a calm and courteous approach inside the main church, particularly if a religious ceremony is taking place. Avoid loud discussions, and it would be best to silent or turn off your phone.
Modest Attire!
Dress modestly when entering the monastery, covering your shoulders and knees because it is a place of devotion.
Explore the Interior!
Take your time to explore the monastery's interior. Admire the interior of the main church and its frescoes, and don't miss the lodged cannon ball from the bombardments!
Respect No-Entry Areas!
Be mindful of any no-entry areas within the monastery, such as the monks' cells and the church's holy section.
Festival Participation!
If your visit coincides with a religious event or celebration (15th of August), consider joining to learn about local culture and traditions. Respect the worshipers throughout these ceremonies.
Donate if You Wish!
Many religious sites rely on donations to fund their maintenance and upkeep. If you want to help the monastery, consider making a little donation by lighting a candle for you and your loved ones.
Explore the surrounding area!
Panagia Gonia Monastery is part of a small region north of Kolympari village. For a complete tour, we suggest exploring the nearby area.
Visit the Museum!
The unique Ecclesiastic Museum of the monastery contains icons, codexes, and many other artifacts, some dating back to the 14th century.

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