The monastery of Arkadi is an Eastern Orthodox monastery, situated on a fertile plateau 23 km to the southeast of Rethymnon.
The monastery played an active role in the Cretan resistance of Ottoman rule during the Cretan revolt in 1866. 943 Greeks, mostly women and children, sought refuge in the monastery. After three days of battle and under orders from the hegumen (abbot) of the monastery, the Cretans blew up barrels of gunpowder, choosing to sacrifice themselves rather than surrender.
Today the monastery also houses a museum (in the southern wing) that has artefacts from the famous battle, church articles, and an absorbing picture gallery of the Cretans of that time.
Its collection consists of post-Byzantine icons, ecclesiastical vestments and implements, weapons, manuscripts, personal objects that belonged to the Abbot Gavriil and other religious and historic relics.
In a place of honour is the banner from the Arkadi holocaust, which depicts the Transfiguration of Christ . Another unique exhibit is the section of the carved altar screen of the church depicting the Resurrection, the only piece that survived the explosion and fire.
Examples of sacerdotal vestments, produced by the important embroidery centre at the monastery during the 17th century, are also displayed. A particularly outstanding piece with gold embroidery, dates to 1681 and depicts Christ and the twelve disciples.
Finally, among the weapons used during the struggle, including flintlock rifles, long-barreled pistols and pistols, there are Ottoman firearms such as the Turkish musket, as well as weapons that were given the surnames of benefactors acting on the rebel’s behalf aroad, such as Rodokanakis and Bernadakis, who sent them in aid of their beleaguered countrymen.