EXPERIENCE: THE ARKADI MONASTERY AND RETHYMNO
From the magnificence of the Arkadi Monastery, a symbol of the Cretan people's fight for independence from the Turks, to the Venetian atmosphere of Rethymno, an undeniably fascinating melting pot of art and history.
What we will see
- Arkadi Monastery
- Rethymno, ancient Venetian loggia, Fortress, Neratze mosque, Great Gate, Rimondi Square (external visit)
What we will do
- We leave the port of Heraklion by coach and head for the Arkadi monastery, the island's most famous monastery, which is composed of a series of fortified buildings. Legend has it that it was built by Emperor Flavius Heraclius Augustus e reconstructed around the 5th century by Byzantine emperor Arcadius, from whom it takes its name, while other sources report that it was founded by a monk named Arcadius.
- The central courtyard is beautiful and houses the church dedicated to Saint Constantine, Saint Helen and Our Father. The monastery also symbolises the fight for independence from the Turks. In 1866, many Cretan people took refuge here to defend themselves from the Ottomans and, rather than surrender, they blew up the armoury , sacrificing their own lives.
- We will continue on to Rethymno, capital of a region whose great cultural heritage dates back to the Minoan age and has its main centre in Cydonia. There is, almost unexpectedly, a Venetian atmosphere in the historic city centre (palia poli): the Venetians in fact, having conquered the island, decided to create a commercial base here, between Heraklion and Chania. Every corner of the city is still imbued its old, aristocratic character, from the 16th century buildings to the arched porticoes, from the stone stairs to magnificent remains from the Greek, Roman and Byzantine eras, from the maze of streets to the small Venetian port. In the ancient Venetian loggia we find the information office of the Ministry of Culture.
- Our visit continues on to the Fortress, which also dates to the Venetian age and is one of Crete's best preserved castles. All that remains is for us to visit the other places of interest, the marvellous Neratze mosque, which was completed in 1657, the Guora Gate - the main gate of the 16th century wall - and lastly, Rimondi square.
- Before returning to the port, we will have some free time in which to explore every corner of this marvellous city, a rare treasure of art and history.
What you need to know
- Places on this excursion are limited. We recommend booking early.