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Agia Irini Monastery at Rethymnon

Place description

Located at the base of Mount Vrisinas and 5km south of Rethymnon, the Aghia Irini Monastery (also known as Santa Irene) stands at an elevation of 260m. As one of the oldest monasteries in Crete, dating back to before 1362, it currently functions as a nunnery.

Prior to the restoration efforts that began in 1990, Agia Irini was a collection of crumbling structures. However, thanks to meticulous restoration work that adhered to the original monastic architecture, the monastery is now considered one of the most picturesque on the island. In recognition of its architectural conservation, Agia Irini has received a European award for cultural heritage.

From a distance, the monastery resembles a fortress. Within its enclosure lies the relatively new church of Saint Irene, surrounded by the nuns’ quarters, an ancient olive mill, the chapel of Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, a small museum, the refectory, and workshops for painting, embroidery, and sewing. Outside the courtyard, the unrestored old three-aisled church of St. Irene, St. Catherine, and St. Euphemia can be seen.

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