Tour of the Monuments

Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels (Gouverneto)


The Monastery of Gouverneto or Our Lady of the Angels, as it is typically called, is located on the outskirts of a small plateau, to the northeast of Cape Melecha. It began to be built in the period 1537-1548, at an altitude of 260 meters, by monks and ascetics who built it on top of a pre-existing ancient temple. However, the construction works were completed during the Ottoman rule, after a special permit granted by the Ottomans.

The complex has a fortress architecture with four towers in its corners with battlements, of which only two survive today. It measures 40 x 50 meters and has about 50 cells on two floors. The catholicon is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which is why it is also called the Monastery of Our Lady of the Angels. It has a cruciform shape and a dome and features columns and sculptural decoration according to Italian influences. Around the monastery’s catholicon are the other buildings of the complex, such as the bank, the small museum, etc. In the cemetery of the Monastery is also the chapel of Agia Paraskevi, while it has two other chapels, that of Agios Ioannis the Herimitis and Agioi Deka, as well as a number of small shares in the wider area of ​​Akrotiri.

During the Venetian rule, the Monastery presented a remarkable spiritual movement and in 1637 it was one of the largest monasteries on the island with many monks, shares and important assets. During the first years of Ottoman rule, the Monastery (Bali Manastir – honey monastery, as the Turks typically called it) was the seat of the Metropolitan of Crete. During the Revolution of 1821 the Monastery was looted and many monks lost their lives. A few years later, in the 1830s, the Governorate began to reorganize and in 1894 the work of finishing the sanctuary of Our Lady of the Angels and more specifically the facade and the two side chapels were completed. During the Second World War, the Germans installed an outpost, however the Monastery continued to carry out its spiritual and social work, offering shelter and food to the local wintering population. Today, this historic Monastery is an important place of pilgrimage with an active presence in the religious and social life of the place under the blessing of the new brotherhood that resides in it.


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