The Monastery of Arkadi is situated at a high of almost 500m on the northwest foothills of Mount Psiloritis, approximately 23km from Rethymno. Scientists support the opinion that both the monastery’s foundation and its name are owed to a monk called Arkadios.
According to the inscription, which has been preserved on the frontal support of the belfry, the two-aisled Church of Aghios Konstantinos and the Transfiguration of the Saviour, which is situated in the center of the monastery, were built in 1587, which is during the period of the Venetian occupation on Crete.
This explains the plethora of architectural elements of the Renaissance, which the visitor will notice at first sight such as the gothic arches and obelisks, the anthemic of the Renaissance, corinthian moldings of the late Renaissance as well as baroque volutes. Other inscriptions give evidence that an earlier church than the present one had existed dating back to the 14th century.
The Monastery of Arkadi became the symbol of self-sacrifice and freedom during the revolution of 1866-1869, since the besieged inhabitants sacrificed themselves preferring to die than to surrender to the Ottomans.
Today the breathtaking buildings of the Monastery belong in UNESCO’s World Heritage list, as the European Freedom Monument. The sacred banner of the revolution, as well as the other relics such as monastery utensils, vestments embroidered with gold and weapons are on exhibition in the Monastery museum.
Opening hours: April-May 9:00-19:00, June-August 9:00-20:00, September-Octomber 9:00-19:00, November 9:00-17:00, December-March 9:00-16:00
Web site: www.arkadimonastery.gr
e-mail: [email protected]
Tel: +30 28310 83135, +30 28310 83116, +30 28310 83136
Nunnery of Agia Irini
Agia Irini is located at an altitude of 260 meters at the foot of Mount Vrysina, about 5 kilometers south of Rethymnon, on the road to the village of Roussospiti and dates back to 1362. The monastery is built on a rock and looks like a fortress, as it is surrounded by a wall, while the view from above is stunning.
It was largely destroyed during the revolution in 1866 and was reopened in 1989 when it began to be restored under the supervision of the archaeological service with respect to its architecture. In 1995 it was awarded the Europa Nostra Award for the conservation and restoration of architectural monuments.
Today it is a nunnery of ten nuns occupied with iconography, weaving and embroidery. Visitors can visit their workshops. The monastery also has an ecclesiastical museum with sacred relics and an old oil mill.
Tel: +30 28310 27791
Monastery of Preveli
The Monastery of Preveli is situated 37km from Rethymno on the western slopes of Kourtaliotiko Gorge, which ends in a palm tree forest. It includes two monasteries, which are 2km apart: The “Lower Monastery”, which is deserted and the “Back Monastery”, which is still working and can be visited. The church was built during recent years on the remains of an older Byzantine church.
Monastery of Attali
It is situated on a hill and offers panoramic view of the bay and coastal village of Bali, which is situated 37km from Rethymno.
It is called the Monastery of Attali, a name, which the Venetians had given to the coastal village thus modifying the name of the ancient city of Astali.
Inscriptions testify that the monastery was built during the 17th century. The church is dedicated to Agios Ioannis. Its facade shows distinct elements of the architecture of the Renaissance.
The monastery played an important role during the revolution of 1821.
Later it was deserted, and only as late as 1982 new life breathed into it when it was restored.
Tel: +30 28340 94274