The Catholicon of the Monastery is built within a cave and dedicated to Holy Virgin; people use to call the monastery “Panaghia at Gournia”. The establishment of the monastery is dated in the second Byzantine period of Crete (961-1204). It looks like a fortress because apart from its religious role, it also served as refuge for Christian people in various difficult occasions. Owning a large land fortune, the Monastery had often problems with the Ottoman landlords, during the Ottoman occupation of the island. During this period of time the Monastery had established a school for the children of the area around but also of the rest of the prefecture; tradition states that it was here that had studied Rodanthi “i Kritsotopoula” ("the Cretan girl”), a well-known fighter for the freedom of Crete in the period of 1821.
Access from Aghios Nicolaos and Sitia is possible by rented or private car and motorbikes.