Agarathos monastery is considered one of the oldest monasteries in Crete. It is located just 23 km from Heraklion. The monastery was founded in the second Byzantine though the exact date is unknown.

Agarathos monastery is a religious site with rules while visiting. This composition will guide you as you plan to visit.

History and significance

The name Agarathos was derived from a plant, Jerusalem sage which translates to Agarathia Cretan dialect. A monk found an icon of the virgin mary under the plant. Numerous essential figures are linked to the monastery. Some of them are Meletius Pegas, Cyril Lucaris, Yerasimos Paleokapas, and Joseph Bryennios.

During Venetian domination, the monastery played an important role as many high priests and clergypersons studied and preached there. During this period, the monastery’s library was influential in the area.

During the Ottoman invasion of Crete, the monastery suffered several attacks. The building was set on fire during this period, and the monks were slaughtered.

After the Ottoman rule in 1894, the church was reconstructed and restored to its usual way. A new school was also built and started operating in 1894.

Architecture and Art

The monastery was built with fortified architecture. The church’s main building has two aisles, one dedicated to the Koimisi of Theotokos and the other to Saint Menas.

There is a guest house and dining room where visitors are hosted inside the monastery. An old church named Saint Raphael is situated outside of the monastery.

According to the 2011 census, there are approximately 19 monks in the monastery. The monks are busy working in their fields and growing many organic products.

Access and visiting

One of the famous ancient sites to visit in Athens is the Agarathos monastery. Located at 70008 MONI AGARATHOU, THRAPSANO, GREECE. It is very close to the capital city of the island, Heraklion.

You will find a small town named Archanes, 15 km south of Heraklion. It is one of Crete’s most popular villages and has a well-known traditional and vibrant aesthetic. The path length is 18 km and 6 hours of hiking duration.

This monastery is worth exploring in full, not just because of its religious history but also for its outstanding role during the Ottoman invasion. You don’t need to be religious to appreciate the monastery’s beauty.

The Agarathos monastery is always open every day from 8:30 am till sunset. It is free entrance, but donating to the church is always an excellent idea. From this village, you can do a day hike down to Agarathos monastery.

When visiting the Agarathos monastery, you should respect the dress code by covering up. You will be refrained from entering wearing short skirts, shorts, swimming trunks, tank tops, and armless tops. As a female, you should have a loose scarf to wrap around your shoulder.

In the past, before the pandemic, the monastery used to make available coverings for visitors. However, this is not the case anymore. You should also keep your camera away from the nuns and the Monks in the monastery.

The following facilities are available at the monastery for the convenience of visitors:

● Toilet
● Parking space for a type of vehicle
● Wi-Fi
● Facilities for people with disabilities.

According to written history, the Agarathos monastery was founded in the 15th century AD. However, it is believed that it was established earlier in the 10th century AD by Nikiforos Fokas.

The Ottomans brought down the monastery during their invasion. It was later built and restored in 1894. The monastery was built with a double aisle, each representing what it represents.

An old icon of the Virgin Mary was found under a tree, which is now considered sacred. There is a small museum where you can buy souvenirs and virgin olive oil.

You can research and read more about this topic when preparing for your trip to the Agarathos monastery. Enjoy your trip and explore Greece to the fullest.

Written by :  Lawal Usman

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