Σπηλια Αγ Γιαννης Ερημιτης

Spilia Ag Ioánnis Erimitis - Hermits' Cave of Saint John


Useful Information

Location: 19 km east of Chania or Hania, Crete.
The cave is close by to the Katholikó monastery. Akrotiri peninsula.
(35.59020188224017, 24.14613018344216)
Open: no restrictions.
[2021]
Fee: free.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave SubterraneaCave Church
Light: bring torch
Dimension:  
Guided tours:  
Photography:  
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History

6th or 7th cty monastery built.

Description

This cave is called Σπηλια Αγ Γιαννης Ερημιτης (Cave of Saint John the Hermit), as it is said that te Saint has lived here until his death. The legend tells, Saint John had to flee from te Middle East with 98 friends and came to this cave. The cave is much smaller than nearby Gouvernéto Cave. It is not clear to us where all his friends went, but obviously not into the rather small cave. Another legend tells, St. John was killed by the bullet (or the arrow) of a hunter, while he was collecting herbs. The hunter thought he was a bear because of his fur clothes.

The main sight of the cave is a formation resembling (and used as) an altar. The Saint is said to have slept on this stalagmite, located on the left wall of the last chamber.

It is a little tricky to find the cave. The nearest town is Chorafakia and you take the main road to Kalorrouma. After 2.2 km turn left on a smaller road, after 300 m keep right, then left. Through olive trees you reach a farm named Koumares, go on up the hill to the modern monastery Moni Kirias ton Aggelon Agiou Ioannou Erimitou Gouvernetou (Gouverneto Monastery). Here the road ends and you have to walk. After 700 m you reach ruins where the CaveSpilia Gouvernéto is located, and after 300 m the path descends to the Katholikó monastery with the cave and cave church. The last part is quite steep, reckon at least half an hour for the way down and one hour for the way back uphill. Be sure to take enough water with you.

The Katoliko monastery is built into the cliff wall and the cave entrance. It is reached across a 50 m long and 15 m wide bridge across the 30 m deep Avlaki Gorge. There is also a cave church Iero Spiléo (cave church), which is part of the Katholikó monastery. The facade of the church is built in Venetian style.

A roomy passage ends in a large chamber called The Saint's Bedroom. The saint being St John the Hermit who is reputed to have lived in this cave and after whom this cave is sometimes called. In the left hand wall there is a natural shelf of stalagmite which is called The Altar. Every Autumn a memorial service is held here.


Text by Tony Oldham (2002). With kind permission.