Family Experiences

Arkadi in Crete. Symbol of Freedom

February 18, 2019 0 Comments

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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 practiced 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 .

Travel Tips

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. If you are looking for English speaking guided tours to Arkadi Monastery, we suggest the following:

From Chania: Tour Rethymno, Arkadi,
Margarites & Eleutherna  – 
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 – duration approx. 7 hours

From Rethymno: Explore the Real Crete in 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

For family resorts and hotels near Arkadi Monstery, we suggest

Grecotel Creta Palace – on the beach with an excellent kids club, spa and family luxury accommodations

The Royal Blue Luxury Resort – with private villas on a private beach with spa and many sports facilities

Grecotel LUX ME White Palace – with kids club, on a private beach, private villa’s and bungalows, a state of the art waterpark, a farm and mini zoo

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Anastasia Lainaki Zacharopoulou

Greek blogger Anastasia was born and raised in Chania, on the west side of Crete. She is the mother of two young children. Be inspired by Anastasia's local knowledge and join her in her journey around Crete.