This Venetian construction dating back to the 16th century was the stage for one of the bloodiest and most tragic episodes in Cretan history. It is emblematic of the heroic resistance of the islanders to Ottoman occupation during the dreadful siege of Arkadi in 1866. Faced with an army of 15,000 men, 1,000 Cretans taking refuge in the monastery died in the voluntary explosion of the powder magazine. The monastery is now open to the public and houses a modest museum telling the story of this event that, at the time, touched the entire world
The site is just around 20 mi from Rethymnon and is, of course, a tourist attraction, so try and avoid visiting at busy times during high season, opting instead for the early morning or late afternoon. Driving around the area you'll undoubtedly be struck by the beauty of the Arkadi Valley, which is in itself worth a look. The road winds in and out of picturesque villages and the surrounding landscapes are spectacular.
Many rooms are furnished to bring to life the terrible episode of the siege, including the powder keg.© dziewul / 123RF
Due to the popularity of the site, we recommend that you visit in early morning or late afternoon.© Natalia Volkova / 123RF
The Monastery has long been a place of culture and education, particularly thanks to its rich library.© dziewul / 123RF
Arrival on the site allows one to take in the real scale of this imposing fortress.© dziewul / 123RF
Facing the monastery, a few exposed skulls bear witness to the violence of the combat that took place here.© Olivier Lechat / EASYVOYAGE