Arkadi in Crete | Symbol of Freedom

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Last Updated on March 22, 2024 by Celeste.

Our Trip to Arkadi

Arkadi in Crete is where I will take you today. The historic Monastery of Arkadi is the European Symbol of Freedom as characterized by UNESCO. It is also the most sacred symbol of the struggle of the Cretans. The holocaust of Arkadi and its tragic history in 1866, opened the way for the liberation of the Cretans in 1898 as it attracted the attention of the Europeans and changed the neutral tactics they practised until then.

The Monastery of Arkadi in Crete was the centre of the Cretan struggle and Revolution from the early beginning.

The Monastery was well fortified, being surrounded by thick high walls and it is said it was the only Monastery in Crete whose bells were allowed to ring.

This is the reason why the Monastery has always stood as the central headquarters for all revolutionary acts.

So when the Turks demanded the removal of the revolution committee and the bishop denied a huge campaign against the Monastery was launched. A huge heavily armed Turkish army asks once again Abbot Gavriil to surrender but the answer they received was again negative.

The night of the holocaust 965 people were inside the monastery the majority of which were women and children. They were hiding inside the gun power warehouse. 

Konstantinos Yamboudakis, along with other warriors, being exhausted and knowing that captivity was waiting for them, fired the barrels with gunpowder, causing the destruction of the monastery and the death of many Greeks and many Turkish invaders. It is said that the sound of the explosion was heard until Heraklion.

This is how history is written, this is how blood is turned to freedom. These acts are here to motivate us to cultivate higher standards in life. For people like the Cretans with a strong sense of self-sacrifice Arkadi in Crete will always stand proud to remind us of our history-rich in battles for freedom.

Before you visit I strongly recommend you to read “Kapetan Michalis” by Nikos Kazantzakis maybe the most important Cretan writter. Through the pages of this book, you will travel in time in the exact period of the Cretan revolution and understand Arkadi in Crete better.

Arkadi is located 23 km east of Rethymno and the access is very easy. You will admire the Monastery, its gardens, the gunpowder warehouse and the museums exposing the history of the monastery and the revolution battles. You will also see a cannonball wedged on a tree on the main yard .

How to visit Arkadi Rethymnon with Kids

The Arkadi Monastery is a very special, must-visit monument to visit with your family. Not only will you learn more about the history of Crete and Greece, but you will also enjoy the beautiful views, natural surroundings and wildlife of this part of Crete. To make the most out of your visit to Arkadi and the surrounding attractions, we recommend you to book an English speaking guided tour to Arkadi Monastery for families:

Tour Rethymno, Arkadi, Margarites & Eleutherna

This tour leaves from Chania: and includes a visit to Rethymno city, scenic villages, the important dead city and Museum of Eleftherna, the Arkadi Monastery and lunch at a traditional Cretan family folkloric restaurant. The duration approx. 7 hours. For more information and to book your family tour from Chania to Arkadi, please click here.

Explore the Real Crete Tour

If you are based in Rethymno, we recommend the Explore the Real Crete Tour with a small Group. The tour takes you to the village of Margarites with its local pottery, the magnificent Melidoni Cave, the new museum at Eleftherna and the Arkadi Monastery. It ends at a family-run tavern with food and Cretan music – duration approx. 10 hours.

Where to stay in Rethymnon with Kids

We hand-picked and recommend the following luxury family resorts near the Arkadi Monastery in the region of Rethymnon.

Grecotel Creta Palace is one of the best family resorts in the area. Centrally located on a private beach, this luxury resort has fine dining options, an excellent kids and teens club, a spa and family luxury accommodations. With both private villa’s and hotel suites, this resort is especially ideal for families with babies. Click here for more information and to book your stay at Grecotel Creta Palace.

The Royal Blue Luxury Resort is located on its private beach and has a choice of private villas and family suites. The pool is stunning and the resort offers everything that you would expect from a 5-star luxury resort. The spa and gourmet dining options, as well as the top location to all the nearby attractions, makes this resort an ideal place for families who want to explore but also indulge in luxury and relaxation. Click here for more information and to book your stay at The Royal Blue.

The Grecotel LUX ME White Palace is a luxury family resort with the famous Grecotel Kids Club, a private beach, private villa’s and family bungalows, swimming pools, a state-of-the-art water park, a farm and a mini zoo. Absolutely one of the best family resorts in Greece. Lying right on a sandy beach, Grecotel White Palace with its luxury All-In Living package offers a unique holiday concept combining great design, 24/7 concierge service, fine dining, activities and entertainment. Click here for more information and to book your stay at Grecotel LUX ME White Palace.

Where to stay in Crete with Kids

In Where to stay in Crete with Kids | The regions of Crete, we have described each part of Crete island. For family hotels and kid-friendly resorts in the four regions of Crete, its towns and agro-tourism accommodation, please check The Best Family Hotels in Crete.

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