Timios Stavros

In the prefecture of Rethymno , Timios Stavros (Holy Cross) is a small chapel on the sacred hill of Psiloritis, the highest peak of Crete.

Overlooking the world from an altitude of 2,456 meters, the stone chapel of the Timios Stavros (Holy Cross) stands proudly against the winds on a spot, the sacredness of which dates from the remote ages, with its breathtaking view making it today an important pilgrimage for the local inhabitants of the villages of Psiloritis and for people who arrive from all over the island.

The point, where the chapel stands, has been a religious center since antiquity. Thousands of pilgrims came to this highest peak of Crete bearing gifts for the sanctuary that existed where the chapel stands now, perpetuating the ancient custom to worship the highest peaks.

The small, single-nave chapel of Timios Stavros was built in 1949. It was built using the construction technique of “Mitata”, stone circular structures used by shepherds in the area. In other words, the chapel was built using simple raw stones positioned in such a way that one connects with the other without any binder between them. The structure of Timios Stavros consists of two circular spaces; one is the main place of worship, while the other accommodates the pilgrims arriving there the day before to attend the feast on September 14.

During the winter, the chapel is covered with snow, while in summer it can be used as a shelter for the night, but always with the right equipment, because of the low temperatures in the area during the night.

There are several ways to reach Timios Stavros, either from the northern side, or from the southern. On the northern side of the mountain there is a path called “Strata Psiloritis”, which starts from the plateau Lakkos of Mygerou and it is the most direct route to the top. The “Strata Psiloritis” is very well signposted and paved with stone slabs in most parts.

There is a legend saying, that the miraculous crucifix (the Holy Cross), at midnight of the feast of Timios Stavros, flies from the Psiliritis towards the monastery of Preveli.