Rethymno Arkadi Monastery

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Location: Arkadi

The Holy Monastery of Arkadi in Rethymnon Crete: Arkadi is a place of special historical interest, known for the events that took place during the revolution of 1866. The monastery is built on the edge of the high plateau. This is one of the most important monuments of Crete and an interesting pole of attraction for visitors.

Located 23km southeast from Rethymno and 500m above the sea level, the initial fortressing part of the monastery was built in the 12th century, by an Arkadian monk as it is believed. Another myth says that the monastery was named after the Byzantine emperor Arcadius. The most important part of the Monastery of Arkadi is a church dedicated to Metamorphosis of Savior and Agios Konstantinos and Agia Eleni.

The monastery is quite large and its high walls relate to a fortress. This holy place has been well-known from the events of November 1866, when Crete had rebelled against the Turks, dominating the island for the past 200 years. When the Turkish soldiers violated the monastery after many hours of siege, the besiegers with a monk as leader put on fire a room filled with gunpowder. The explosion, which killed all the people inside the monastery and most of the Turkish soldiers, was a desperate act of the besiegers to remain free and not fall in the hands of their enemies.

This act symbolizes the Cretan liberation and makes the Monastery of Arkadi one of the most famous monasteries in Crete. There are few monks who still live there taking care of the church and the surrounding buildings. Inside the monastery, you will find a small souvenir shop with handmade items and great copies of Byzantine icons.

The monastery also houses an interesting museum with a great collection of post-Byzantine icons, pontifical from the 16th century, blazonry and relics from several revolutions. Outside the monastery, there is a memorial structure dedicated to the Cretans who died in 1866, displaying the remains of the dead.

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1 Reviews
  • olli.lampinen 15 Sep 2012
    Nice architecture fine monument
    I visited with my wife the Arkadi Monastery in September 2011. We went there from Rethymno with the Yellow Train. During the trip we also saw much of the nice Cretan nature. The Sacred Monastery of Arkadi is an Eastern Orthodox Monastery Museum situated on a plateau 23 kilometres southeast of Rethymno. Behind this place is a very fascinating history. The fortness-like monastery played an active role 1866 in the revolt against the Ottomans. In the revolt battle, 943 Greeks died when the Greek pepople in the monastery finally decided to put fire on the powder magazine. The Venetian church dates back to 16th century and is marked by the influence of the Renaissance. The other buildings on the ground are rebuilt in a very fine way. There is also a museum with a tourist shop. In the countryard are fine amazing flowers. We had a very fine and intresting day there in the monastery. Go to this magnificent place, you will love it, we are sure!