Kapsa Monastery

Kapsa Monastery

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Between Makrigialos and Goudouras, perched on the rocks next to the entrance of the gorge of Pervolakia we find the Monastery of Agios Ioannis Kapsa. The monastery overlooks the Libyan Sea and Koufonisi and was established in the middle of the 15th century.

According to other sources, the foundation of the monastery goes back even further, to the 13th century. What is clear, is that until 1841 the monastery consisted of a small church built inside a cave and a few cells. From 1841, however, Joseph Vitsentzos or Gerontogiannis settled here. He restored the monastery, added new cells and an additional aisle to the church and, above all, made it famous throughout Crete – and beyond.

Joseph Vitsentzos is a rather controversial personality with a not so virtuous previous life, that after the death of his daughter changed his course of life and came to the monastery to become a monk. The faithful gathered in huge crowds to see the monk up close (it is said, among other things, that he saw visions, cured diseases, and could walk on water). The faithful also brought with them offerings which Gerontogiannis used for the expansion of the monastery. His work was continued by his grandson who added other cells, cultivated the estates and brought water to the monastery.

During the years of Ottoman Occupation, Kapsa Monastery was an important centre of resistance, with Greeks and British resorting to it shortly before fleeing by submarine to Egypt. Consequently, the Germans forced the abbot of the monastery (Hilarion Syntychakis) as well as the monks to leave the monastery. The monastery of Kapsa is dedicated to Agios Ioannis Prodromos and celebrates every year on the 29th of August. Apart from the amazing view, it is worth stopping here to observe the exceptional wood-carved iconostasis made by Hatziminas in 1869 and painted by Antonis Alexandridis, the mosaic with sea pebbles on the floor of the church and the cave where Joseph and Gerontos practised, 100 m from the monastery.

Visiting hours/info
Daily: 7 AM –12:30 PM, 3:30 – 8 PM
Tel.: (+30) 2892022149