The Sacred Monastery of Preveli
Preveli Monastery is an Orthodox monastery on the island of Crete, situated in Agios Vasilios in the municipality of Rethymno (Greece). The monastery is located at the foot of a mountain overlooking the vast blue Lybian sea. It is especially well-known for its resistance against the Ottomans in 1866 and during World War II. It includes a modest museum with icons and religious artefacts within it.
Prevelis, a feudal lord, is thought to have founded the monastery under the Venetian occupation. When the Turks conquered Crete in 1649, they demolished numerous churches, including the Preveli monastery.
Due to the active and leading involvement of its fellow monks in all national endeavors for independence and education of our people, the Monastery has a proud past. As a result, it deserves special attention and respect on the entire island of Crete.
A memorial commemorating the monastery's contribution in WWII, the Preveli beach, and another monastery (destroyed), Kato Preveli, are all located near this monastery.
The Lower (Kato) Monastery of Saint John the Baptist and the Rear (Pisso) Monastery of Saint John the Theologian are two different architectural complexes located within 1.7km of each other.
The Lower Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, which is in ruins, is the first structure that visitors encounter upon arriving from Rethymnon. It was founded during the 10th and 11th centuries, near the Great River and the arched bridge in the area. Because the surrounding areas were good for farming and cattle, the monastery was historically used virtually all year. It was eventually abandoned after being pillaged and destroyed by different conquerors.
• After the Battle of Crete and the installation of the German occupation in 1941, the monastery accommodated almost 5000 allied troops who awaited submarines to transport them to Egypt. The monastery was demolished by the Germans on August 25, the same year, and many monks were imprisoned in Chania.
The Holy Cross
Preveli is known for the miraculous Holy Cross (Timios Stavros) that is kept in the temple and was given by Abbot Effraim Prevelis. The cross is from Constantinople and bears a piece of the True Cross at its base. According to legend, the Cross fell to the Turks after the fight of Amouryeles in Heraklion (1823), who sold it to some Genoese pirates. Even though the weather was rough as they went close Preveli Lake in November of the same year, the ship came to a halt. The ship was unable to move for three days until the pirates gave the Cross to the monks.
Moreover, germans also kidnapped the monastery's Holy Cross. The plane that was supposed to transport the Holy Symbol away, however, was unable to take off. They attempted to place the Cross in another plane but were unable to get it to take off. They attributed this to the Holy Symbol, as the Cross was restored to its original location only a few days after the looting. It was September 13, the eve of the Holy Cross exaltation, the Monastery's feast day.
The Museum of Preveli Monastery
Rusecco, SEVEN MONKS AT PREVELI MONASTERY, CRETE (2009)
The Preveli Monastery houses a large collection of icons. The icons depict interesting topics that span roughly from the first half of the 17th century to the end of the 19th century, a period during which Crete's fine tradition was disrupted by the Turkish conquest.
The painters maintain the late Cretan school of painting tradition, taking into account both the austere orthodox tendency and the copper painting of the masters of the first half of the 17th century in Rethymno and Chania, influenced by western masters, primarily the Flemish.
Considering the distance from major centres and the solitude of the area, the monks who purchased these at the end of the 19th century displayed a high degree of culture in their choosing of the varied subjects of the icons.
Indeed, If you’re looking to indulge in some history during your visit to Crete.. We strongly invite you to pay a visit to the monastery of Preveli to learn about all its history and secrets.
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