Monastery of Arkadi
Just 25 kms from the historic town of Rethymnon you can take a local bus or you can book a tour of the most important site in the area of Rethymnon – Arkadi Monastery, a living monastery with an heroic history.
Immaculately situated in the foothills of Psiloritis Mountain (Mount Idi), Arkadi is something of a national shrine. During the 1866 rebellion, the monastery served as a Cretan stronghold in which hundreds of Cretan guerrilla fighters and their families took refuge as the Turks advanced and had the upper hand in the proceedings, it was here that they were surrounded by the Turkish army that lay siege for two days, finally the defenses were breached on November 9th, 1866.
As the attackers poured in, the ammunition stores in the monastery were exploded deliberately on the orders of the Abbot. Hundreds were killed in the internal blast, Cretans and Turks alike, this enraged the assailants that they put most of the surviving defenders to death. There are celebrations annually on the anniversary of the 7-9 November blast.
There are still monks and a couple of nuns living at the monastery; they take care of the church and the surrounding buildings as well as the small museum where relics from the monastery and the church are kept. In the museum you can also buy very good copies of icons made in the traditional way and other religious items.
Outside the grounds of the monastery there is a cafeteria and a souvenir shop. Here they sell local handcrafts, honey, Raki, komboloi’s of a very good quality (the traditional string of beads that many men play with), and many other souvenirs and of course postcards.
A popular walk from Arkadi to the village of Pikris.
Privately you can book a walk from Arkadi to the village of Pikris. The walk starts with a tour around the monastery of Arkadi and the small museum there. After that we start descending to the village of Pikris, some 6 kms from Arkadi. The walk will take you from the monastery down the mountainside through meadows and fields.
The villagers in Pikris have always been very closely connected with the monastery, and therefore have their own route.
The guide is a direct descendent of one the heroes of the battle of Arkadi and is also the owner of the only taverna in Pikris.
A late lunch can be provided at the village taverna after the walk. Evening meals by prior arrangement with Kostas, Dina his wife prepares home made mouth-watering dishes and some of the best chips in Crete.