Preveli Monastery

The Preveli monastery is located about 40 km south of Rethymno and is one of the most famous and respected monasteries of the Rethymno prefecture and the whole Crete. The monastery celebrates with an open-air fete dedicated to Agios Ioannis on May 8.

As long as the current name of the Preveli monastery is concerned, the prevailing theory is that it was named after a monk with surname Prevelis, who restored the monastery in the past.

Many legends are relevant to the foundation of the monastery which is dated to the Venetian occupation, like most Cretan monasteries. It is not known exactly when the Preveli monastery was built, only that it was created from the merge of two smaller monasteries, but there are also reports that the first core of the monastery was organized in the late 10th to early 11th century.

The historic Preveli monastery was religious, spiritual and revolutionary center during the Turkish occupation since it helped in various ways the endeavors for Cretan freedom.

The Katholikon (the church) of Preveli monastery, two-nave building, was initiated in 1837 and has iconostasis and icons dating to 1840-1841.

The Preveli monastery is consisted of two main building complexes, which are approximately two kilometers away from each other. The Lower (Kato) monastery of Agios Ioannis Prodromos (St. John the Baptist), which is close to Kourtaliotis River, includes works by icon painter Mercurius, and today remains completely deserted. In the past, however, it was the staying place mainly of the younger monks depending on agricultural work. The Rear (Piso) monastery of Agios Ioannitis Theologos (Saint John the Theologian) is located further south, overlooking the vast Libyan Sea. Not one of the older buildings was preserved till today, since the ones that were not destroyed by the Turks, were deformed by the newer constructions. A typical characteristic of this monastery is the church (Kotholikon), which is at least 150 years old.

The decay of Preveli monastery has begun after 1960 and currently is in operation by just one monk.

During your visit to the Preveli Monastery don’t forget to visit the ecclesiastic museum of Preveli Monastery, which displays about 100 priceless icons of religious and historical value.

The unique natural environment and the homonymous beach that lies nearby can also be the motivation for a visit to the Preveli monastery.