Crete is a land of rich cultural heritage, with ancient ruins and landmarks dotted all across its picturesque landscape. One of the most awe-inspiring sites on this Mediterranean island are the beautiful and intricate churches and monasteries. Whether you’re a history buff or simply interested in exploring the island’s religious roots, here are 15 of the most stunning churches and monasteries in Crete.
1. Toplou Monastery in Sitia, Lassithi
Located near Sitia, in eastern Crete, this monastery was founded in the 15th century and features beautiful Byzantine frescoes, a stunning courtyard, and a small museum.
2. Saint George Karydi Monastery, Chania
The monastery is located near Vamos village in the prefecture of Chania, and was founded in the early 17th century. Be sure to add this to your list and make sure you don’t miss the ruins of the old olive oil factory.
3. Arkadi Monastery, Rethymno
This is one of the most famous and historic monasteries in Crete, located about 23 km from Rethymno. It was founded in the 5th century, but it became famous after the rebellion of 1866, during which hundreds of Cretan rebels sought refuge in the monastery. The Ottomans bombarded and set fire to the monastery, killing hundreds of people, including women and children.
4. Saint Nicholas Church Georgioupolis, Chania
Saint Nicholas is one of the most unique churches on the island. It is located in the picturesque village of Georgioupolis on a small islet in the sea, about 100 meters from the shore. It is one of the most photographed churches in Crete and very popular for destination weddings!
5. Panagia Kera Monastery, Lasithi
Located near Kritsa, in eastern Crete, this monastery was founded in the 14th century and is known for its stunning impressive architecture and the beautify preserved Byzantine-era frescoes, possibly the most well-preserved on the island.
6. Agios Minas Cathedral, Heraklion
Agios Minas Cathedral is a must-see attraction and the largest church in Crete. The grandiose structure boasts a stunning neoclassical design and is considered one of the largest cathedrals in Greece. Visitors can marvel at the intricate details of the cathedral’s interior and learn about its rich history dating back to the 19th century.
7. Preveli Monastery, Rethymno
This monastery is located on the southern coast of Crete, near Plakias. The monastery was founded in the 16th century and it played an important role during the Cretan revolution against the Ottomans. Today, it is a popular destination for tourists due to its stunning views, beautiful gardens, and historic artifacts.
8. Agios Georgios Selinari, Lasithi
This monastery is located near the town of Neapoli, in eastern Crete. It was built in the 16th century and features beautiful frescoes, a stunning bell tower, and a small museum.
9. Holy Trinity Monastery, Chania
Holy Trinity Monastery in Chania is a stunning example of Greek Orthodox monastic architecture. Located on a hilltop with breathtaking views of the city, the monastery dates back to the 17th century and features intricate frescoes and icons. Visitors can tour the grounds and admire the peaceful surroundings, making it a must-see attraction in Crete.
10. Chrissoskalitissa Monastery, Chania
Chrissoskalitissa Monastery is a beautiful monastery located in western Crete, Greece. Perched atop a rocky hill, it offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape and the sea. The monastery’s name translates to “golden step,” which refers to a step inside the chapel believed to have miraculous properties. A must-visit spot for history and nature lovers.