The Holy Trinity Monastery of Tzagarolon is one of the richest historical and most beautiful monasteries in Crete and is about 15 kilometers from Chania. Situated in a magnificent location, at the foot of the Stavros Mountains, at the Tzobomilos site of Cape Melecha, near the airport. The monastery was built in the 17th century by the Venetian lords Jeremiah and Lavrentio Jagarolo. Jeremiah was one of the most important scholars of the time, with an incredible education and a provider of Greek and Italian education. He had made a very strong friendship with Patriarch of Alexandria Meletios Pigas.
Jeremiah was a fan of Italian Architect Sebastiano Serlio. Utilizing his knowledge and information from the Italian architect’s books, he built the monastery by adapting the slope of the ground and creating an artificial level, where the water and wine labs were housed. Above the artificial level, the central convent of the monastery was built with the large three-tiered temple in the center with domes, narthex and chapels and the wings of the buildings around.
After Jeremiah’s death in 1636, his brother Lavrentios continued to build the monastery. During the Turkish occupation, though the monastery flourished, it was heavily attacked by the Ottomans, and mainly by its burning in 1821.The construction of the domes of the catholic monastery, the abbey on the south wing and the priestly school on the east wing during the 19th century.
Inside the monastery, there is a small museum where visitors can admire the magnificent collection of paintings, vestments, manuscripts, and utensils. In the chapels of Sotirios and Saint John the Theologian, visitors will admire the famous 17th-century wooden iconostasis.
Today, the monastery continues to play an important role in the religious and economic life of the island. It is managed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the production of organic products such as olive oil, wine, honey, vinegar, and olive oil soap is excellent.
Brief Chronological Overview of the Monastery:
- 16th Century: In the place of today’s convent there was the oldest Monastery of Murtaron, belonging to the monk Ioakeim Sofianos and was dedicated to the Saint Apostles.
- 1611: Jeremiah Tzagarolos undertakes the reconstruction of the older monastery.
- 1634: Jeremiah dies and his brother Lavrenti continues his work.
- 1645: The Turks occupy Chania and constructions stop. The monastery is known as Selvili Manastir, that is, a monastery with the Cypresses.
- 1821: The Turks destroy and burn the monastery.
- 1830: The monastery is rebuilt and construction is completed.
- 1833: The monastery functions as a boarding house.
- 1864: The imposing belfry is added to the temple.
- 1892: A seminary is established in the eastern part of the monastery which operates until 1905.
- 1896-97: During the last Revolution before the liberation of 1898, the monastery was converted into a hospital and headquarters.
- 1941: In World War II, the convent is used by the Greeks to store supplies of the Navy. The Germans are destroying part of the monastery.
- 1942: The Germans establish the Artillery School and later (1944) an army of 150-200 men.