Religion, Crete Island
Crete became part of modern day Greece less than a hundred years ago, maintaining to a degree its cultural variety. There used to be a sizeable Muslim but Greek speaking minority in the island, now resettled in the aegean coast of Turkey, with great concentrations in and around Izmir.
Todeys cretan population accepts the Orthodox dogma and reports directly to the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople in Istanbul. There is also a small Catholic minority living mainly in bigger towns and cities.
Churches = ekklisies. The big churches are inside the towns but the numerous small ones are practically everywhere. Usually white-painted, you will find them on a beach, on the mountain peaks, in deep gorges or inside caves. People of Crete are deeply religious people and they build churches to express their gratitude to God or to fulfil a "tama" a promise given to God in exchange for a request.
There are many monasteries throughout Greece, but Crete is especially famous for its lovely religious retreats. Around Rethymnon, you will find several, among which is Agia Irini, a newly built monastery for women. The women who live there all seemed to be fairly young and the gounds were immaculate and flowing with flowers and trees.
It is customary to visit during proper hours, that is early in the morning and usually after 5pm til closing. Be sure to check the visiting hours as it is frowned upon if you disturb the solitary time that these unique dwellers require.
As I was waiting for the church to be opened by the 'Kalogries' as they are so called in Greek, I happened to see an opportunity for a unique 'artistic' photo which I thought would be quite harmless! Needless to say, one of the Kalogries saw me and very angrily slammed the window shut while at the same time shouting, "did I say you had permission to take my photo?" I certainly had meant no harm and the distance was so far that the girl's image was not clear enough for later identificaiton. So, the lesson here is to be very careful about taking photos in such situation. Be sure you ask first, or at least be inconspicious as possible. In most cases, it is not allowed to take photos inside the churches with flash and sometimes not at all.
Well, I got my photo anyway...what do you think?