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Arkadi Monastery

The historical Monastery of Arkadi is located near the village of Amnatos, 23 km east of Rethymnon on the border of the provinces of Mylopotamos, Rethymnon and Amari. It is built at an altitude of 500m, above fertile vineyards, olive groves, cypresses and pines. Around the monastery there are many picturesque chapels, while next to it is the entrance to the beautiful Arkadiotiko Gorge.

The monastery was founded by a monk named Arkadios. During the Turkish occupation, it was also called Chanli Manastir (beneficiary of the bell), because the monks of the monastery had extracted the right from the Turks to ring the bell instead of the beacon. The most important part of the Monastery is the katholikon, which is dedicated to the transfiguration of the Sotiros (the northern aisle) and to Saints Constantine and Helen (the southern aisle), which is surrounded by a very thick wall within which there are various auxiliary houses.

Arkadi is certainly the most historic monastery in Crete and UNESCO has designated it as a European Monument of Freedom. It is the holiest symbol of the Cretan Fights for Freedom againt the Turks, and the place where the tragic holocaust of 1866 took place with the blast of the wine cellar, where the revolutionaries, kept the gunpowder. This led to the liberation of the island in 1898.

In 1866, after its destruction, the Monastery of Arkadi was completely rebuilt and restored to its previous form. Exceptions are a half-burnt iconostasis on the left of the Holy Table and a cannon ball, stuck in the old cypress tree to the right of the church, objects that testify to the blood shed about 150 years ago.