monastery is located on the south coast of Crete, near the
village of Lefkogia (approximately 37km south of Rethymnon).
The site actually consists of two monasteries, some 3km apart:
the 'Kato' or 'lower' monastery, and the 'Piso' or 'back'
Kato Preveli was founded during the Venetian occupation,
probably by a feudal lord known as Prevelis. An
inscription on a bell on the site dates the monastery to 1594;
however it is likely that the monastery was built on the remains
of a Byzantine monastery dating back to the late 10th century or
early 11th century. Kato Preveli was destroyed by the
Turks in 1821 and remains abandoned to this day.
Piso Preveli is a complex of buildings that includes abbot's
quarters, cells, refectories, a bakery, a library and a museum.
A magnificent two-aisled church, dedicated to St. John the
Devine and the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
dominates the centre of the complex. Piso Preveli remains
a fully functional monastery which can be visited by the public.
Preveli, along with other monasteries such as Arkadi, occupied a
vital role in Crete's struggle for independence from the Turks.
During the Cretan Revolution of 1866 Preveli protected many
partisans from the occupying forces - thus incurring the wrath
of the Turks who destroyed Piso Preveli in 1867. Piso
Preveli was completely rebuilt in 1897.
WWII Preveli became a centre of resistance against the Nazis.
The monastery sheltered Allied soldiers stranded on the island
after the Battle of Crete. - frequently disguising them as monks
- and helped to organise their escape off the island by boat.
It is partly due to the role that Preveli played during the WWII
that the monastery has attained international status as a symbol
of freedom and courage.