The Arkadi Monastery on the island of Crete doesn’t solely belong to this island;
it belongs to Greece, Europe and to all five continents – to the whole world. It is one of the Eastern Orthodox Monasteries underlining the catholicity and universality of the Church. Each year the Monastery receives and hosts many visitors and pilgrims from all over the world, from distant civilizations. Here are blended many languages, cultures, traditions, history and polymorphism.
The Arkadi Monastery has a unique natural beauty, a prestigious history, numerous legends deeply rooted in the time. Possibly because the old is livelier than the new, and the modern is often more mature than the aged. Each pilgrim and visitor feels something which is exclusively his, personal, original in his experiential and spiritual experience. (Words of Archimandrite Miron Kalaitzis , Reverend Father of the Arkadi Monastery)
A brief historical reference on the Arkadi Monastery
The Arkadi Monastery has been a continuous and inseparable part of the Cretan history during the last eight centuries.
The Monastery multi-faceted deed unfolds in the passage of time. Sources show that the Monastery had been a centre of education and manuscripts copying. They also produced needlework embroidered with gold during the 17th and 18th centuries dazzling the whole world.
The Monastery battles against the conquerors inspired the whole world. The sacrifice of the people living and dying there, affected and attracted the attention of the rest of the world.
The Arkadi Monastery’s occupation by the Turks
On the morning of November 8, an army of 15,000 Ottomans and 30 cannons, directed by Suleyman, arrived on the hills of the monastery while Mustafa Pasha waited in the Mess. Suleyman, positioned on the hill of Kore to the north of the monastery sent a last request for surrender. He received only gunfire in response.
Combat began again in the evening of November 9. The cannons destroyed the doors and the Turks made it into the building, where they suffered more serious losses. At the same time, the Cretans were running out of ammunition and many among them were forced to battle with only bayonets or other sharp objects. The women and children inside the monastery were hiding in the powder room.
Cretan heroe Konstantinos Giamboudakis
The last Cretan fighters were finally defeated and hid within the Arkadi monastery. In the powder room, where the majority of the women and children hid, Konstantinos Giamboudakis gathered the people hiding in the neighboring rooms together. When the Turks arrived at the door of the powder room, Giamboudakis set the barrels of powder on fire and the resulting explosion resulted in numerous Turkish deaths. Of the 964 Cretans present at the start of the assault, 846 were killed in combat or at the moment of the explosion.
Places of special interest in the Arkadi monastery
- The Church – Catholicon The Church is a basilica with two naves; dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ and to Saint Constantine and Saint Helen. It was built in 1587 in the place of a smaller church of the 13th century.
- Bullet-tree Witness of the 1866 great battle, stands wounded by the Turkish bullets, the superannuated cypress in the shape of the cross showing towards the Church.
- The powder magazine The old wine cellar. Used during the revolt as an area of keeping munitions and there took place “the Holocaust” on November 9th, 1866.
- Monk cells The personal area of the monks, a place of pray and inner thought.
- Church Forefront It was built in 1587 and was heavily influenced by the Renaissance art. A work of the Italian architects Sebastiano Serlio and Andrea Palladio.