Located about 25km east of Rethymnon and at an altitude of 500m, the historic Monastery of Arkadi is built on a fertile plateau with olive groves, vineyards, pine trees, cypress trees and kermes oak trees. The monastery, originally dedicated to Agios Konstantinos (St. Constantine), was converted into a commune in the 17th century. At the same time, the rebuilding of the great temple of the Transfiguration of the Savior, which today dominates the center of the compound, began.
The catholicon (church) is surrounded by a rectangular complex of buildings, with their outer side forming a thick and high wall that made it unconquerable by enemies.
Its strong fortification attracted the rebellious Cretans, which resulted in the Ottomans ransacking and burning down the monastery multiple times. Arkadi is definitely the most historic monastery of Crete, since it was to become one of the most acclaimed symbols of freedom, as the tragic Holocaust of 1866 took place in the premises, when the Cretans blew up barrels of gunpowder, causing a massive explosion of the gunpowder storage room, choosing to sacrifice themselves rather than surrender.
This has paved the way for the liberation of the island, which is why Unesco declared it a European Freedom Monument.
Wander around the monastery’s rooms, the abbey, the kitchens, the bakery, the kneading-room, the pantries, the oil and wine factories, and the renowned powder magazine. Do not miss admiring the breathtaking view to the gorge of Arkadi, the vineyards of the monastery and the pine forest.