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Areti Monastery in Karydi

Place description

The Holy Trinity Monastery of Areti is situated near the village of Karydi (close to Neapolis) in the dry and secluded region of Mirabello province. Along with the neighboring Kardamoutsa monastery, these were the most significant monasteries in the area, which boasts the highest number of monasteries in Crete. In fact, it once managed to acquire seven other monasteries within the region. After being in ruins for many years, it has recently been restored and is now inhabited by monks.

From a distance, the monastery appears like a fortress, as part of it is fortified, making it one of the five most important fortified monasteries in Crete. At its entrance, there is a gallery that leads to large vaulted storage rooms, the barn, and the main gate of the courtyard. Within the main courtyard, there are tanks and several buildings, including cells, a kitchen, bakery, metalwork room, and other rooms. Outside the enclosed area, there are two large open tanks, an olive oil mill, a creamery, and 12 ancient cypress trees symbolizing the 12 Apostles.

The main church of the monastery is situated in the center of the enclosure and features a single-spaced barrel-vaulted design with a pointed arch doorway. The bell is inscribed with the date 1618. Additionally, there is a second Venetian temple dedicated to Saint Lazarus, which likely had a funerary purpose. Lastly, the small chapel of St. Makarios of Egypt was recently founded within a small room.

A legend surrounds the founding of Areti Monastery: During the Venetian Occupation of Crete, a local worked at one of the many Venetian ports on the island and became close with some Venetians. One of them invited him to Venice for his daughter’s wedding. While there, he overheard guests discussing his homeland, Crete. Unaware that the Cretan could understand Italian, they plotted to go to the current location of Areti Monastery and unearth a hidden treasure. They also mentioned that the first person to lift the cauldron lid concealing the treasure would die. The Cretan, having heard everything, went to the area and searched for the cauldron. He found it and tied the lid to a donkey, which died upon uncovering the pot. The Cretan became wealthy and, in gratitude to God for his fortune, built the Areti Monastery in this rocky and desolate place.

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