Arkadi Monastery

Arkadi, Greece

Arkadi Monatery is perhaps the best known monastery on Crete due to the Holocaust of 1866. However, its location and impressive architecture make it all the more special.

The current catholicon (church) dates back to the 16th century and is marked by the influence of the Renaissance. This influence is visible in the architecture, which mixes both Roman and baroque elements. As early as the 16th century, the monastery was a place for science and art and had a school and a rich library. Situated on a plateau, the monastery is well fortified, being surrounded by a thick and high wall.

The monastery played an active role in the Cretan resistance of Ottoman rule during the Cretan revolt of 1866. 943 Greeks, mostly women and children, sought refuge in the monastery. After three days of battle and under orders from the hegumen (abbot) of the monastery, the Cretans blew up barrels of gunpowder, choosing to sacrifice themselves rather than surrender.

The monastery became a national sanctuary in honor of the Cretan resistance. 8 November is a day of commemorative parties in Arkadi and Rethymno. The explosion did not end the Cretan insurrection, but it attracted the attention of the rest of the world.



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Founded: 16th century
Category: Religious sites in Greece


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Daniel Harte (16 months ago)
Beautiful and peaceful place, given its highly turbulent past. One of the many pieces in Cretan history which helps you to respect their strength and passion for their homeland. Lots of cats too enjoying the refuge from the heat of the day.
Gabriela S. (16 months ago)
Must see! One of the best places to see in Crete. Well maintained ruins, rich history, and a small museum. Great view.
Chris Day (17 months ago)
An amazing place full of history based around the imposed suicide of local villagers many years ago to prevent their massacre and slavery by the Ottomans. It's a beautiful building and very peaceful. We went late afternoon when it was cooler and quieter. Entry fee was 3 euros which was very reasonable. There is a cafe, toilets and a gift shop. There is a request for appropriate dress, especially for ladies, out of respect for their religious beliefs. The two girls in our group managed to comply but most women visitors we saw, unfortunately, ignored it.
Butter Fly (18 months ago)
Unless someone really knows its great history or is really really into monastery architecture it is not worth the drive. The condition isn‘t the best anymore. The 3 € fee was fine but there are monasteries in better condition to visit in crete.
Ian Humphreys (18 months ago)
What a fantastic place! A must see if you are on Crete. Amazing, if sad, history reminding me a little bit of The Alamo.
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