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Arkadi Monastery

 
 

Monastery of Arkadi - Rethymnon (Rethymno), CreteLocated on a plateau at an altitude of 500m, 18km South-East of Rethymnon, the imposing monastery of Arkadi has been a symbol of freedom in Crete for centuries.  The earliest written evidence dates the monastery to the 14th century, but it is believed that on the same grounds there has been a monastery since the 5th century AD.  Towards the end of the 16th century restoration and expansion work was carried out.  The monastery church dates from this period and is dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Saviour and to the Saints Constantine and Helen.  The stables just outside the front gate date from 1610.

The monastery gained international fame during the Cretan revolution against the Turks in 1866-1869.  Finding themselves under siege from the occupying forces, local inhabitants barricaded themselves into ammunition storerooms and then chose to blow them up, rather than surrendering to the Turks - resulting in hundreds of deaths.  A memorial ossuary is housed in the octagonal building just outside the front gate.

Within the monastery grounds there is an interesting museum housing the sacred banner of the Arkadi tragedy, post-Byzantine icons, weapons from the revolutionary era, vestments of great artistic and historical importance and personal items belonging to the legendary Abbot Gabriel.

The anniversary of the Arkadi tragedy is marked every year and is celebrated as a public holiday on Crete.

 
  Monastery of Arkadi - Rethymnon (Rethymno), Crete Monastery of Arkadi - Rethymnon (Rethymno), Crete