Arsaniou monastery

The Arsaniou monastery in Rethymno prefecture is located near Pangalochori, 11 kilometers east of Rethymno.

The Arsaniou monastery was probably named after a monk Arsenios, while another version mentions a woman named Arsinoi, who donated her fortune to build the monastery. One version even says that the name comes from Arsinoo cape.

The 1654, eight years after the Turkish invasion, the monastery became patriarchal (run by the Patriarch). Despite of the tremendous economic difficulties, due to Turkish arbitrariness in the 19th century, and with the number of monks significantly decreased, the Arsaniou monastery continued to operate primary school within its walls. During the last years of the Ottoman rule, the abbot of the monastery Gavriil Klados was killed in battle against the Turks in 1897 and his decapitated head was used a as target.

In 1900, the Arsaniou monastery was dissolved and converted into Agricultural Station, but in 1903 was reconstituted and offered money the whole construction of the High School for Girls in Rethymno and half of the cost for the construction of the Boy’s Gymnasium in Rethymno.

The monastery was also used by the Resistance during the German occupation and its monk, Damianos Kallergis, was executed by the Germans in 1941 in Pangalochori for giving refuge to the guerillas.

The Arsaniou monastery, founded in the 16th century, was dedicated to Agios Georgios (St. George) and it is a cruciform basilica with a dome. The present church was rebuilt in 1888 on the foundations of the former smaller church. The iconostasis, the Throne and the Small Throne are the works of a known woodcarver Vasilios Vlastos. An older portable icon, which was built in the iconostasis, is of Agios Georgios, with two renovations in 1804 and 1872.

The Ecclesiastical Museum of the Arsaniou Monastery has been in operation since 1971 and displays manuscripts, old books, gospels, vestments, sacred vases, icons and artifacts from other monasteries. The monastery also operates a Conference Center in the unique Venetian section of the recently restored.