Monastery of Kallergis in Smari near Kastelli in Crete
Monastery of Kallergis in Smari near Kastelli in Crete
Monastery of Kallergis in Smari near Kastelli in Crete
ZDS_1792

Moni Kallergi: A Historic Monastery Near Smari and Kastelli in Crete

Moni Kallergi, a monastery dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, is located southeast of the village of Smari, approximately 35 km east of Heraklion and 4 km north of Kastelli. Nestled on the slopes of the hill where the Acropolis of Smari is located, and in close proximity to Papoura hill in Kastelli, the monastery is steeped in history, with evidence of human presence dating back to the Minoan period. The surrounding area is rich in Minoan tombs, and fragments of pottery and an ancient Minoan column have been found within the monastery grounds, suggesting that it may have been a place of worship during that time.

History

The monastery, built during the Venetian era, is believed to have been constructed on the ruins of an older monastery, the remains of which can be seen in the nearby church of Prophet Elias. While the exact date of its establishment is unknown, historical records suggest that it was associated with the Kallergis family, relatives of Nikephoros Fokas, during the Venetian period.

The monastery fell into disrepair during the Ottoman occupation but was purchased in 1884 by the abbot of Vidiani Monastery, Methodios Perakis. It was subsequently renovated by Archimandrite Nikiforos Velivasakis and nun Evlampia Dolapsaki in 1912. However, a fire in 1931 caused significant damage to the monastery’s olive groves, leading to financial difficulties. Following the deaths of the renovators in 1938 and the last nun in 1946, the monastery was abandoned.

In 1988, Hierotheos Alexakis settled in the dilapidated monastery and initiated its restoration. After his death in 1998, the “Friends of Moni Kallergi Association” continued the restoration work with the help of monks from the Metropolis of Petra and Chersonissos.

In 2001, Moni Kallergi became an independent monastery under the Metropolis of Arkalochori, which ensures the presence of monks at the site. In 2017, Archimandrite Simon became the abbot of the monastery and continues to oversee its ongoing renovation and operation.

Architecture and Features

The central building of the monastery has been restored, and a refectory has been created. Outside the monastery’s enclosure, there is a newer two-aisled church dedicated to Saint George and Saint Spyridon, as well as a chapel dedicated to the New Martyrs of Crete. The monastery complex also includes cells, a courtyard, and gardens.

Current Status

Today, Moni Kallergi is an active monastery with regular services held throughout the week. Visitors are welcome to attend the services and explore the monastery grounds. The monastery also has a presence on Facebook, where it announces its weekly program and provides contact information for those who wish to get in touch.

Construction Period

  • Venetian Era

Location

  • Southeast of Smari village, 35 km east of Heraklion, 4 km north of Kastelli

Historical Significance

  • Associated with the Kallergis family during the Venetian era
  • Renovated in the early 20th century
  • Served as a refuge for families during World War II

Current Status

  • Active monastery with regular services
  • Open to visitors
Access
Earth Road
ReligionInfo
Venetian
Ottoman period
Contemporary
Open to Public
Monastery
Populated

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