Arkadi Monastery

Arkadi Monastery is an eastern orthodox monastery located in the southeast of Rethymnon on Crete island, Greece. The monastery played an important part in the history of Cretan resistance to Ottoman rule during the Cretan revolt of 1866. It became a national sanctuary in honour of the Cretan resistance. According to beliefs, Arkadi Monastery was believed to have been founded by a monk named Arcadius. The monastery lies on a rectangular, lush plateau on the northwest side of Mount Ida. The plateau is surrounded by hills, and on the west side, the plateau stops suddenly and falls off into gorges. The place where the monastery is located was first developed in ancient times. What makes it attractive is the presence of Mount Ida, known to Greeks as the childhood home of Zeus. The interior of Arkadi Monastery resembles a fortress, and it has a total area of 5200 m2. The island of Crete is known to have the best historical tourist spots in Greece. One of them is the Arkadi Monastery.

Tourists can go and visit the monastery every day between 9 am to 8 pm. There is public transportation like buses and taxis going to the monastery, but Car Rental Crete is quite prominent. Adventure seekers can also enjoy the beautiful hiking trails of the famous Arkadi Monastery. Available tour buses are going to the monastery and tourists can make their bookings before visiting the monastery. There are available routes open for hikers to enjoy. Tourists rent a car to fully enjoy and discover the monastery within their choice of time. Car rental is a more flexible and convenient way to tour the historical monastery. The journey takes no more than 40 minutes. The roads are not difficult and the best way to enjoy the beautiful mountain landscape is by driving a rented car.

Arkadi Monastery

What is the history of Arkadi Monastery?

The Arkadi Monastery is situated on a lush plateau 23 km to the southeast of Rethymnon, on the island of Crete in Greece. It is an Eastern Orthodox monastery founded in the fifth century by the Eastern Roman Emperor Arcadius, according to tradition. There are no written facts that state how old the monastery is, but the current compound mainly dates from the 16th century. The monastery played a significant part in the Cretan resistance to Ottoman rule during the Cretan revolt of 1866. There were 943 Greeks, who sought refuge in the monastery, mostly women and children. After battling for three days, the Cretans blew up barrels of gunpowder, sacrificing themselves rather than surrendering. The exact date of the founding of the monastery is not known. However, in Crete, during those times it is common for monasteries to be named after the monk that founded the building. That supports the theory that Arkadi may have been founded by a monk named Arkadios.

Where is Arkadi Monastery located?

The Arkadi Monastery is located in Rethymno, Crete, Greece. It is perched on a hilltop plateau 23 km to the southeast of Rethymnon, surrounded by olive groves, and vineyards. The church furthermore has two naves; the left side dedicated to the Transfiguration, and the right side to Constantine and Helena.

How many people live in Arkadi Monastery Crete?

Approximately 13 people live in Arkadi Monastery, Crete. There are monks who still live in the monastery. The city of Rethymno has a population of 82,970.  There are 40,732 men living in Rethymno today. While the women’s population is 42, 237. The total kid population is 3539. Rethymno has 26 long-livers, and these are people who are over 100 years old.

Arkadi Monastery

What to know before going to Arkadi Monastery?

The Arkadi Monastery is ideal for people who appreciate history and have a love for a rich culture. When visiting Arkadi Monastery, it is important to know a lot of things about the place before going. The monastery is open to visitors between 9 am to 8 pm, every day. Church services are held daily at 6 am and 6 pm. One important thing to consider is proper clothing, especially for women,  because there are still monks living in the monastery. Although the monastery is a tourist destination, it should be respected as well. There is a small souvenir shop in the area where they sell souvenirs and some gorgeous pottery. When planning to visit the monastery, bring along some water, although there is a café around the area. Wear the right shoes to make walking more comfortable. The perfect time to visit is during the morning and late afternoon, to avoid the heat of the sun.

What are the Hiking Routes for Arkadi Monastery?

There are different hiking routes for Arkadi Monastery that adventurous tourists can take. Arkadi Monastery – Viranepiskopi route starts from the historic Arkadi Monastery. The course, for the most part, follows the Arkadiotiko Gorge. After reaching Pikris, it continues its course until the turn of the asphalt road, where the Agios Dimitrios church is located. The 8.9 km point-to-point trail near Amnatos is generally considered a moderately challenging route. It would take an average of 2 hours to 33 minutes to complete the hike. The trail is open all year-round. Another route is the “Arkadi monastery – Eleutherna 1”. The distance is 3.86 kilometres and the trail type is one-way. A nice ride from the historic Arkadi monastery down to the town of Eleutherna. There are several metal fences to cross. Tour intended to be done with “Eleutherna-Margarites 2”.

Interior of Arkadi Basilica Church

Is Arkadi Monastery safe?

Yes, Arkadi Monastery is definitely safe to visit. There are local guards always on duty inside the monastery. Tourists can enjoy their walk within the area without fearing for their safety. It is a monastery, so the place is expected to be quiet and tranquil.

What is the best season for visiting Arkadi Monastery?

The best season to visit the  Arkadi Monastery is during the shoulder season, between the months of April to June, and September to October. However, there are tourists who enjoy the pleasant weather of Crete throughout the year. Summer can get quite hot and crowded. The low season of November to March has fewer crowds but has high chances of rain.

What is the best vehicle for visiting Arkadi Monastery?

There is available local bus transportation in Arkadi Monastery, but renting a private car is the best vehicle for visiting the monastery. Tourists can go to many beautiful spots on their own using a rented car. Just make sure to always check the requirements for renting a car.

Can you rent a car going to the Arkadi Monastery?

Yes, you can rent a car to go to the Arkadi Monastery. While there are available public buses on the road, it is recommended to rent a car, especially for tourists. Renting a car in Crete will give tourists the freedom and flexibility to travel on their own.

Arkadi Monastery

What are the factors to consider before renting a car in Crete?

Listed below are the factors to consider before renting a car in Crete.

  • Insurance. Insurance is important when renting a car in Crete. It includes insurance for Collision Damage waiver, and a credit or debit card driver is required as a guarantee. Car rental insurance protects a passenger against the cost of damage that may happen when renting a vehicle.
  • Driver’s age. Aside from a  valid licence, age is one of the factors to consider when renting a car. In Crete, the legal age needed for a car rental driver is between 21 years old. A driving licence is also required.
  • Driver’s gender. As long as the driver is of the legal age of 18, driving regardless of gender is allowed in Crete. While some may prefer male drivers, a female can drive and rent a car in Crete.
  • Car type. Opting for a smaller car is best when driving in Crete.  The main reason is that Greek roads are narrow. There are noticeable smaller cars on the roads too.
  • Documents needed for renting a car. Most people think that the only document needed for renting a car is a driving licence. However, that is not the case. Most car rental companies in Crete require a credit or debit card with the driver’s name on it.

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How much does a car rental in Crete cost?

The car rental cost in Crete varies depending on the location, the number of passengers, itinerary, car type, and duration. The average cost of renting a car in Crete is around €30 to €40 per day. Renting a car for a whole week will cost on average €250 while renting for the weekend will cost around  €78. Affordable Crete car rental varies depending on the car type.

What is the contribution of Arkadi Monastery to Crete Tourism?

Tourism is one of the blossoming industries in Greece. A total of 4.55 million international tourists visited Greece between January and July 2021. The island of Crete in Greece is known for its spectacular tourist destinations. Crete has been voted one of Europe’s top 5 tourist destinations. In total, more than four million tourists visit Crete every year. Arkadi Monastery is one of the most famous monasteries in Crete. It is considered to be Crete’s national sanctuary. Tourists who are interested in religion and culture will perfectly love the historical value of the monastery.

Arkadi Monastery

What are the nearest attractions to Arkadi Monastery?

Listed below are the nearest attractions to Arkadi Monastery.

  • Kavoussi. Kavoussi is a settlement in Arkadi in Rethymno in Crete. It is a known archaeological site in eastern Crete. It is built at the foot of two imposing mountains. Kavoussi is a historical and lively village that offers many activities and gorgeous sights. Kavoussi is one of the most interesting villages in Lerapeta.
  • Kyrianna. Listed also as a traditional settlement and a municipal district is the village of Kyrianna. Kyrianna has a very beautiful old church inside the village that is worth visiting. The architecture is similar to the Arkadi Monastery church and every corner is beautiful.
  • Amnatos. Amnatos is located on the northeastern edge of the Gargano mountain. It is a local community of the Rethymno Municipality in the region of Crete. It has buildings with Venetian architectural elements, and it was awarded as the “Cleaner and Organised Traditional Community”.
  • Kapsaliana Village Hotel.  Kapsaliana is located in Rethymnon. It is within a 10-minute drive of Arkadi Monastery. It was a 16th-century village on Crete that was transformed into a world-class hotel. Kapsaliana was part of the Arkadi Monastery estate, the island’s most emblematic monastery.
  • Kournas Lake. Kournas Lake is known to be the only freshwater lake in Crete. It was known as Lake Koressia, but later took its current name from an Arabic word meaning lake. It is located in beautiful scenery, lying in a valley among the hills. Kournas lake is about 4 km from Georgioupolis in Chania Prefecture. The lake is quite small, with a length of 1,087 m and a maximum breadth of 880 m. Kournas lake business is open every day. It is generally shallow, with only 22.5 m at its deepest point. Although, it is a nice place to visit all year round. The best time to visit Kournas Lake is during summer, an ideal place to enjoy summer days on its river banks.
  • Spili. Spili is an ideal destination for visitors and locals, whenever they are spending their holiday in Crete. It is located about 300 km south of Rethymno. It has an altitude of 430 m, at the foot of Mount Vorizis, and is an offshoot of Kedros Mount. Furthermore, it is a perfect destination for tourists because almost all basic services can be found in Spili. One need not worry about accessing basic needs. Spili is a convenient place.  There are banks, health centres, a police station, taverns, and even the Church Conference Centre. The best time to visit and enjoy Spili is during spring or fall. There are fewer people during those times, compared to the summer months when it is peak season.
  • Rethymno city: Rethymno is located at the north end of the prefecture, on the western side of Crete. It was once called Rithymna. The town was greatly influenced by the Venetians, and it has elegant architecture and a scenic port. Rethymno is full of archaeological sites, quaint villages, lovely beaches, and Byzantine churches. The best time to visit Rethymno is during summer. The lovely beaches will be perfect for visitors who love swimming and sunbathing in the sun. Rethymno is also a popular carnival destination in Greece.

What are the movies about Arkadi Monastery?

Although Arkadi Monastery being a historical place, there has been no film made about it. The Arkadiou Monastery is one of the places to visit when in Crete. It has been an integral part of Crete’s history and fights for liberty.

Is Arkadi Monastery in UNESCO World Heritage Sites?

No, Arkadi Monastery is not a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, the old building in Arkadi Monastery is included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites in Crete.

Arkadi Monastery

Why is Arkadi Monastery considered archaeological sites?

Arkadi Monastery is considered an archaeological site because of its historical significance. The monastery played an important part in the Cretan resistance to the Ottoman during the Cretan revolt of 1866. One of the bloodiest events in Greek history took place at the Arkadi Monastery. During those times, many Cretans felt they were being mismanaged and were asking for an improved tax system, respect for Christian religion, the right to elect elders, and steps for the development of the island. They also sent a secret memorandum to the monarchs of England, Russia, and France. They were asking for help to act for the unification of Crete with Greece. The Cretans decided to stand up on their own and raise a flag with the slogan “Union or Death ”, on August 21, 1866. Alarmed by the rising revolt, the Sultan sent Musatfa Nailis Pasha on the 30th of August 1866, to halt it. Together with his men, Mustafa arrived outside the Arkadi Monastery on the afternoon of November 6, 1866. They were about 15,000 with heavy artillery. There were 943 Greeks, mostly women and children, who found refuge inside the monastery. The Turkish leader demanded a surrender at the monastery walls, but the Cretans responded with gun fire. The monastery gates were stormed and a battle erupted.  Soon the Turkish surrounded the warehouse filled with people. One of them was a rebel named Konstantinos Giaboudakis. Konstantinos then, together with the people inside, had come to a horrific decision of igniting the gunpowder. The Cretans sacrificed themselves, blowing up barrels of gunpowder. The explosion also killed more than 1,500 Ottoman soldiers. Cretans refused to surrender, thus sacrificing their lives.

Inner Yard in Arkadi

Harry Anapliotis
Travel Writer and Developer
Harry Anapliotis is a travel writer and developer at Rental Center Crete - Car hire.
Rental Center Crete - Car Hire
Car rental Company
Rental Center Crete - Car Hire is a car rental Company offering services in Crete Island, since 1975.