Ships and Ferries to Rethymno in the Crete IslandTravel Information for ferries to Rethymno. Rethymno - Crete Island
RETHYMNO > CHURCHES & MONASTERIES
CHURCHES & MONASTERIES
The Arkadi Monastery
The Arkadi Monastery is located 23 km from Rethymnon. Its foundation has not been dated exactly, but local folklore has it that it was founded by Iraklito and restored by the Byzantium Emperor, Arkadio, in the 5th century, but modern historians say that it was founded by a monk named, Arkadio, and that is where its name comes from.
The Arkadi Monastery is a sacred symbol of the Cretans fight for freedom. In 1866, during the Cretan revolution their leaders met here to direct the fight. The Turkish governor asked the Abbot, Gabriel Marinaki, to dismiss the revolutionaries from the monastery or he would destroy it, the Abbot refused. The Pasha gathered 15,000 troops and on 7th November 1866 began the attack. Within the monastery were 964 people of which 705 were women. The battle that followed was hopeless. So at dawn of the 9th November when the Turks toppled the main gate the defenders of the monastery and with encouragement of the Abbot took the brave decision to blow themselves up with their invaders in the armoury rather than surrender to the Turks.
After this holocaust in the monastery, the Cretan ‘problem’ opened the closed gates of European diplomacy. The conscience of Europe was touched and their attitude changed towards Crete and the Cretans quest for freedom. Many relics of this era are displayed in the monastery’s museum.
The Preveli Monastery
The Preveli Monastery is composed of 2 monasteries 3 km apart and is located south of Rethymnon close to Kourtalioti River estuary. A possible source of its name comes from a monk, Prevelis, who restored the monastery. The ‘lower’ monastery is dedicated to John the Prodromo and has been abandoned; the ‘rear’ monastery has a twin domed church in the centre dedicated to St John the Theologist and the Annunciation. The church is built upon the ruins of an earlier church of the Byzantium period. To the west and the north are the cells of the nuns. At a lower lever is a fountain dated 1701. The monastery’s museum displays ecclesiastical articles and icons.
The Arsaniou Monastery
The Arsaniou Monastery is located 10 km east of Rethymnon and was founded in the Venetian period. There two possible sources for its name: one has it that it was named after a monk named, Arsenios, the other a lady named, Arsinoe, who donated her property to build the monastery.
The main church is dedicated to St George and was built in 1888 on the site of an earlier church of the 16th century. The monastery was restored in 1970 and the wall murals were done in 1988-90. The monastery has a museum and a meeting hall.
The Vosakou Monastery
The Vosakou Monastery is located 50 km east of Rethymnon and is dedicated to the Sacred Cross. The monastery was built in 1195, but has been destroyed twice. The current church was built in the 19th century and was abandoned in the 1950s. In recent years monks have re-inhabited the monastery and are working on its restoration.
The St Irini Monastery
The St Irini Monastery is located in a village of the same name 5 km south of Rethymnon. A very old monastery that was destroyed many times by the Turkish occupation forces during the Cretan fight for independence.
Its restoration began in 1989 with the dedication of its hard working nuns. The monastery is a centre of local traditional handicrafts such as, weaving, embroidery etc. There is an exhibition displaying their handicrafts.
The Bali Monastery
The Bali Monastery is located overlooking the settlement 37 km from Rethymnon. The monastery is also known as Atalis Monastery from the Venetian name for the seaside village, which was derived from the name of the ancient town of Astalis. The monastery is believed to have been founded in the 17th century. Its church is dedicated to St John and its façade has examples of the renaissance architectural style. The monastery played an important role in the Cretan revolution of 1821. It was later abandoned, but was re-inhabited after 1982 when it was restored.
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