The most important monasteries of Rethymno Prefecture, which are worth visiting mainly for their heroic memories, are Arkadi Monastery, Preveli Monastery, Asomaton Monastery and Arsaniou Monastery.
It is located 20 km SE of Rethymno in a lush green landscape full of oak trees, kermes oak trees, pine trees and vineyards. Built in 1587, its architecture is influenced in various ways by the early renaissance, the gothic and classic style as well as the early baroque style. At first, it acquired reputation as a center for copying Greek manuscripts, a work the monks of the monastery had been in charge of. At the same time, it was also renowned for the elaborately embroidered canonicals it produced. On November 8th 1866 an army of 15,000 Turks equipped with 30 canons and under the command of Souleiman Bey besieged the monastery, where 325 armed fighters with their wives and children (964 persons in total including the monks) had found shelter. They blew up the power ked so as not to become slaves of the enemy.
After the liberation the monastery was reconstructed according to its original form. Therefore, the building the visitors see today is not very different from the original one. The monastery houses a museum with an exhibition of findings from the "Arkadi holocaust", heirlooms, weapons, icons, an ossuary, etc.
The Asomaton Monastery is built in a beautiful landscape in the center of Asomathianos plain, surrounded by opulent vegetation and waters. The fountain located in the precinct of the monastery provides fresh water. The monastery was probably built in the 10th-11th century and was then destroyed by the Arabs. It was probably refounded thanks to the fact that Nikiforos Fokas regained Crete. During the Venetian occupation it contributed to the 1723 revolution.
The monastery was destroyed by the Turks when they took control of Crete and was refounded thanks to the initiatives of later abbots. During the Turkish occupation, it played a major role. In 1927 the monastery housed the Agricultural School, which is today a research center. In the church of the monastery you can see the icons of Taxiarches (Archangels) and Aghia Triada (Holy Trinity), which date back to the 18th century.
It is impossible to know when the monastery was founded as it suffered serious damage and was pillaged many times throughout its history. The oldest inscription dating back to 1701 of the famous palindrome "Nipson anommata mi monan opsin" (Wash your sins, not only your face) on the fountain is preserved until today.
Only the remains of the monastery can be seen today, as the roofs have fallen down and only the walls are still standing.
The first part of the monastery (Piso Moni) is located 2 km away from the twin monastery and in still in operation nowadays as a male convent. The monastery offers a magnificent view of the Libyc sea.
You can admire the wood carved chancel with religious icons that are real masterpieces and represent scenes from the Bible in a detailed way. Some of these icons date back to 1750.
The catholicon of the monastery is a two-aisled popular art church, built in 1836. It houses the old abbey, which today used as a guest house. You will also find a small museum exhibiting religious icons that date back to the 19th century. There are also interesting documents dating back to 1798 as well as the ledgers of the monastery dating back to the 19th century.
Near the village of Sises, there is a monastery dedicated to the Holy Cross (Timios Stavros) built at an altitude of 350 m. The monastery holds its celebrations on September 14th. The monastery is known as Vosakou Monastery and was founded during the 14th century.