Agia Pelagia enjoys a blissful setting with an amphitheatric bay flanked by the coves of Ligaria and Mononaftis at the east and west. The village itself is built on the slopes surrounding the bay, with beautiful Cretan homes overlooking the waters and family-owned taverns lining up along the beach to welcome tourists with fresh food and drinks.
Agia Pelagia is stunning: dramatic, romantic views abound and you’ll never run out of photo ops. There are cozy sunbeds on the seashore where you can rest under umbrellas covered with straws – the whole beachscape reminds of an exotic Caribbean poster you’d see in luxury travel magazines. Romance aside, the place has appeal for explorers too: the world under the sea is simply magical, and you can find a couple of diving centers in the area that will help you explore this universe that opens its gates to a select fortunate few.
More than the beach and sea-related pastimes, Agia Pelagia is the site of a famous Cretan religious landmark, the Savvathiana Monastery, one of the most beautiful Greek Orthodox landmarks of the island. The monastery, which is, in fact, a nunnery, is located in a lush green, wooded area in the proximity of Rogdia – a fortunate location for lovers of nature, reminiscent of Tuscan landscapes, but so much better, because it’s authentically Cretan. Dedicated to the Nativity of the Virgin Mary and the Forty Martyrs, the church, or main temple if you will, is a simple construction with an exposed stone facade and traditional architecture. As pretty as it may look in photographs, the site is even more awe-inspiring when you are there in person. Because it enjoys a naturally fortified position, during the Venetian Occupation, this particular monastery was a stronghold of the area. As you enter the Savvathiana Monastery compound you’ll follow a lovely path edged by lush vegetation. The nuns care greatly for the gardens and their work transforms what would otherwise be an ordinary landscape into a setting fit for staging the next “once upon a time” fairytale.
About 200 meters from the Savvathiana Monastery you’ll find the cavernous church of St. Anthony – quite an interesting sight if you like religious landmarks. Another noteworthy aspect of visiting the Savvathiana Monastery is that it hosts a famous icon painted by Ioannis Kornaros and called “Great are You, Lord.” A copy of this masterpiece can be admired at the Toplou Monastery not far from Palekastro in the Lasithi region of Crete.