Preveli Monastery


Location: Preveli   

The Holy Monastery of Preveli in Rethymnon Crete: The important monastery of Preveli sits on the rocky hills of Preveli canyon, on the southern side of Rethymnon Prefecture, Crete. It consists of two monasteries, the Lower or Kato Preveli and the Upper or Pisso Monastery of Agios Ioannis Theologos, about 3 km far from Kato Preveli, which is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. The monasteries date back to the middle 16th century. Many times along their history, they were destroyed but they were always restored. It is said that the monastery owes its name from the noble Preveli family from Rethymnon town who contributed in its restoration in the 18th century.

Kato Preveli is a typical Orthodox monastery with the church of John the Baptist in the center. The buildings in the rectangular courtyard constitute the cells of the monks and some additional buildings. The monks spend most time of the year here rather than in Pisso Preveli, which is deserted today but still makes a beautiful site nestled among the mountains.

Many valuable relics and icons of the monastery were looted during the wars. The remaining collections can be seen at the Ecclesiastical Museum of Kato Preveli, where there are religious garments, relics, icons from the 17th century and a historical cross that depicts the Baptism of Jesus Christ and was used as a banner in wars.

Kato Preveli Monastery consists of a double-aisled basilica with a complex of buildings around it holding the dining hall, the food cellars, guest reception, and meeting halls. Near the large dining hall is the monk's hostel which has exits to the slopes of the mountains, which was very useful in times of war in the past. An old fountain with the inscription 1701 is still used as a water source. In the interior, the icons of Saint John and Saint Charalambos and the biblical frescoes are works of artists from the Cretan school of Art and date from the 16th century.

The Monastery of Preveli served as a refuge for soldiers and rebellions in the many wars of Crete for liberation. The monks of the monastery have always played an important role in the history of Crete, providing shelter to the Cretan soldiers even though their lives were put in danger. The monastery today is open to visit and offers excellent views to the mountainous landscape of Crete.

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