Chryssoskalitissa: A picturesque monastery at Southwest Crete with a timeless charm
Chryssoskalitissa monastery is one of the most known sights in Chania region. It is located in Southwest Crete, just a few kilometres north of the famous Elafonisi beach. It is a female monastery.
Chryssoskalitissa monastery is built on a hill situated in a small cove with rocky, rugged coastline. From the monastery there is good view to the sea and the west coast of Crete.
Although Chryssoskalitissa is about 75 kilometres far from Chania city, its uniqueness and its proximity to Elafonisi beach draw many visitors to the monastery, both Greek and foreign.
The legend of Chryssoskalitissa monastery
The long name “Chryssoskalitissa” is in Greek the short word for “Virgin of the Golden Step”. According to the legend, when the Ottomans conquered Crete, the nuns hid the golden artefacts of the monastery underneath a step in the long staircase, in order to protect them from spoliation. The “golden step”, as it was called, gave its name to the monastery. The legend also says that the non-Christians and the sinners could not distinguish the golden step among the 90 steps of the monastery, which was only visible to the faithful.
The catholic of Chryssoskalitissa monastery is dedicated to the Holy Trinity, or “Agia Triada” in Greek, and to the death of Virgin May, or “Kimisis tis Theotokou” in Greek. It is said that the painting of “Kimisis tis Theotokou” was made 1.000 years ago. You can see this painting among others in the small church of the monastery, which seems to have been untouched by time.
Chryssoskalitissa monastery – past and future
Like every known monastery in Crete, Chryssoskalitissa has experienced all the troubled history of Crete, including numerous wars and conquers. But the centuries-old, beautiful building of the monastery is still standing proudly above the sea, easily visible from the road to every visitor.
The area of Chryssoskalitissa is inhabited from the Minoan years. At that time, here lied a settlement of fishermen. Today there are some houses in the area between the monastery and Elafonissi beach. Here you can also find tourism accommodation and a tavern.
Near the base of the big staircase that leads to Chryssoskalitissa monastery, you can find a store selling small handmade ecclesiastical artefacts, like small crosses and icons, which make a good memento or present.
Chryssoskalitissa monastery is one of the landmarks of Southwest Crete. It is a simple, but impressive building, which has kept alive the atmosphere of past centuries. If you plan to visit the excellent beach in the nearby Elafonissi, something we highly recommend, don’t forget to visit and spend some time to the monastery of Chryssoskalitissa. Chances are the visit will well worth your time.