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Holy Monastery of Arkadi

Holy Monastery of Arkadi
Photo Information
Copyright: John Cannon (tyro) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1835 W: 415 N: 6630] (26832)
Genre: Places
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-07-05
Categories: Architecture
Camera: Canon EOS 20D, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II LD SP AF
Exposure: f/0.9, 1/21 seconds
Map: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Travelogue: Crete, July, 2009.
Date Submitted: 2016-09-15 3:20
Viewed: 3264
Points: 40
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I should like to dedicate this little picture to Ourania, our friend from Leros who posts many beautiful and interesting photographs from Greece.

It's amazing just what one finds while trawling through old photographs although this one is only from seven years ago, taken during a lovely holiday in Crete.

This is the church of the Holy Monastery of Arkadi on a glorious hot and sunny summer day but its history includes a dark and dreadful time just 150 years ago.

Although it is said that the Byzantine emperor Arcadius founded this monastery in the 5th. Century AD, nonetheless its chief claim to fame lies in the part it played in the Cretan Revolt of 1866 - 1869 when a total of 864 Cretan men, women and children from nearby towns and villages, being besieged here by Turkish soldiers, took refuge in the magazine or gunpowder store and, eventually realising that death was inevitable, set alight the gunpowder causing a massive explosion which killed all of them as well as several hundred of the opposing Turks.

I can do no better than quote from the website of the Greek magazine "Stigmes" for a brief résumé of what happened here in 1866:

"The Arkadi Monastery is one of Crete's most venerated symbols of freedom. The defiant defence of this fortress-like monastery during the 1866 Cretan rebellion against the Turks is still legendary and inspirational.

"By the mid-1800's, the Turks had occupied Crete for more than two centuries, despite frequent bloody uprisings by Cretan rebels determined to win independence and union with Greece. Then came the revolution of 1866, instigated by a 16 member revolutionary committee. Arkadi Monastery became the rebels' headquarters, owing to its central position on the island and strategic location atop a craggy inland gorge.

"When the Turkish Pasha in Rethymnon learned of the rebels operating out of the monastery, he sent an ultimatum to Arkadi's Abbot Gabriel Marinakis: either expel the revolutionary committee or the monastery would be destroyed.

"But Abbot Gabriel was himself acting as chairman of the committee. He refused the Pasha's demand. The rebels began preparing the monastery for the anticipated Turkish attack. At dawn on November 8, 1866, the Arkadi defenders awoke to find the monastery surrounded by 15,000 Turkish soldiers armed with 30 cannons. The monastery walls were manned by only 259 armed men, including 45 monks and 12 of the 16 revolutionary committee members. There were also almost 700 unarmed women and children from nearby villages, seeking refuge from the encroaching Turks.

"The Turkish commander's demand for surrender was answered by gunfire. The battle was on.

"Turkish troops stormed the monastery gate in waves and hundreds were mown down by heavy fire from the defenders and from seven Cretan snipers who had barricaded themselves in a windmill outside the walls. As night fell on the first day of the battle, the fields around the monastery were heaped with Turkish corpses. The snipers had died one by one. But still the gate and walls held.

"In the dark of the first night, the two Cretan rebels were lowered by a rope from a window, dressed as Turks, to slip through enemy lines and seek reinforcements from a nearby town. When it was learned that no help was coming, one of the rebels crept back through Turkish ranks to return to Arkadi.

"The second day of battle broke with a bang, as the Turks opened fire with two heavy artillery guns
they had dragged up the gorge from Rethymnon during the night. As the walls and gate smashed
and crumbled under the incessant pounding of the shells, Abbot Gabriel gathered the defenders into the Arkadi Chapel to receive the last sacrament. The Abbot urged them to die bravely for their cause and then went up to the walls to do so himself.

"Aware that the Pasha had ordered him to be taken alive, Abbot Gabriel showed himself on an unprotected terrace and opened fire on the Turks. At first the Turks obeyed orders and did not shoot back. But at last the big Abbot, standing in clear view in his black flowing robes, blazing away at anything that moved, made too inviting a target for one Turkish soldier.

"A bullet caught Abbot Gabriel just above the navel and he fell dead - but not before he had given his blessing to a desperate plan hatched by an imposing rebel fighter named Konstantine Giaboudakis. What the refugees at Arkadi feared more than death was to fall into the hands of the Turks. So when Konstanine Giaboudakis presented his plan to the defenders, it was unanimously approved.

"By the afternoon of the second day, the Turkish heavy artillery had pulverized the outer walls. The defenders killed hundreds more invaders, but the end was clearly near - ammunition was running low and the gate was almost breached. As darkness fell, the Turks launched a massive final assault, pouring through the gate into the inner courtyard, where the rebels fought them hand to hand.

"Meanwhile, Giaboudakis was preparing to carry out his plan. He led more than 600 women and children into the monastery's gunpowder storage room, where they said their prayers and waited until hundreds of Turks were swarming over the roof and ramming away at the bolted door. As the door splintered, Giaboudakis put a spark to a gunpowder keg.

"The massive explosion killed all the refugees, along with several hundred Turkish soldiers. When the smoke cleared, 864 Cretan men, women and children lay dead, along with 1500 Turks. The Turks took 114 prisoners whom they immediately put to death. Only 3 rebels managed to escape to tell the tale.

"News of the slaughter at Arkadi Monastery, with the heavy loss of women, children and clergymen shocked the rest of Europe and won much support for the Cretan rebels' cause. In 1898, with help from Greece and the Great Powers (England, France, Italy and Russia), Crete won its independence and the Turks withdrew from the island, which they had held since 1669.

"Then in 1913, the long-fought-for goal was achieved and Crete was united with Greece."

ISO 100, 1/80 sec. at f/11, focal length 17mm.

Please click here for a larger version of this photograph on "beta" TE.

snunney, GyurMaster, jhm, Royaldevon, jean113, alvaraalto, macjake, ourania, Energysavingelk, Tue, kordinator has marked this note useful
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ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To mkamionka: This is a digital image.....tyro 1 2016-09-15 12:47
To macjake: Thank you .... and your map...!tyro 1 2016-09-15 11:01
To ourania: Thank you Ourania!tyro 2 2016-09-17 06:28
To Energysavingelk: Thank you!tyro 1 2016-09-16 04:47
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 11767 W: 126 N: 21164] (108953)
  • [2016-09-15 3:35]

Hi John,i don't need to read the note,i been there me too a year before you and i remember very well this lovely monastery of Crete. Not well preserved,but the architechtural style is unique and amazing,i like a lot the peaceful atmopshere in and out there.Perfect postcard very sharp and bright.Have a nice day and thanks,Luciano

Hello John,
You have chosen a very good point of view to show us this monastery with such a fascinating story attached to it. I like very much the warm lights and colours and the beautifully rendered textures. The place looks very peaceful nowadays in complete contrast to its violent history. Excellent presentation all round.

Dear John,

Maybe it is a rather conventional postcard like photo, but from the better type. It has very beautiful colours and the lights are also nice.

Thank you for the informative description!

Best Wishes,

  • Great 
  • jhm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 24418 W: 523 N: 40847] (175764)
  • [2016-09-15 4:16]

Hello John,

One lovely old church but urgent need of restoration.
The old architecture and the excellent description make your picture real impression.
An excellent composition, lovely colours and sharpness.
Very well done, TFS.

Best regards,

Bonjour John,

Il est vraiment très beau dans sa simplicité ce monastère grec.Superbe point de vue qui lui donne une belle ampleur, de belles textures et des couleurs joliment saturées.



  • Great 
  • Nicou Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 13822 W: 0 N: 16050] (169396)
  • [2016-09-15 6:18]


Fantastique vue de cet ancien monastère quelle vue avec ces coupoles quel rendu sur la pierre et ces fleurs en bas qui donne une autre touche de couleur merveilleux.
Bravo et amitié

Oh dear, John, the conflict and terrible loss of life seems as bad then as it is nowadays!
Your scene, full of warmth and tranquility, lends no clue to the terrible happenings of the 1860's.

I like how you have included just hint of a vine and a rose bush, on opposing corners in the f/g, creating a fine sense of depth and softening the impression of the building.
Your viewpoint is most effective drawing the eyes towards the building and creating a fine sense of perspective.
The shot is pin sharp with well rendered textures.
The lady, strolling across the b/g animates, scales and also links the reds.

My warm regards,
Bev :-)

Hello John,
You present to us what may be the longest note in TE history, and contrary to many other long notes it is actually readable and "enjoyable" (not the best word for this kind of story, but you know what i mean; splitting it into many short paragraphs also means so much for the readability). It is a terrible story, and most of it is probably true. In the shade of the story the photo is fairly low-key, a nice picture from a good angle of a church that has seen better days, excellent light and nice greenery in the opposing corner. But the photo is almost an excuse for telling the story.
Kind regards,

Ciao caro John, great view of fantastic monastery, fine details, splendid light, excellent clarity and wonderful colors, very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio

Hi John,
seven years ago or so! I wish I had some treasures like this hidden in my drawer!
Great light amazing contrast of the well lit chapel and the polarized sky. It feels so full of light. And the composition is lovely with some plants framing the scene in the corners. The level of detail is amazing! It feels three dimensional -so sharp it is.
Excellent work!

  • Great 
  • dta Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6078 W: 277 N: 11725] (90437)
  • [2016-09-15 12:24]

Hello John ,
What a pretty little church !
I like a lot the angle of view , the composition with the green leaves in the corner , the strong but very well managed light .

Hello John, a shocking tale to accompany this lovely shot of the monastery;just looking at it now, one would never imagine the tragedy played out here.
An excellent sharply focused picture.Very good point of view.
The shrubs add extra colour.
Thanks for sharing, Regards Jean.

Hello John
You found a lot of information about this monastery. When I look at the building I can see ages of history. Your picture uses a classical POV and I think that is the best choice here. The colours of the photo, the warm yellow and orange colours of the monastery and the mysterious blue of the sky, gives the picture a fascinating atmosphere.
Groet Rob

Ciao John
un post molto interessante, non conoscevo questo monastero.
Belli tutti quei fiori intorno all'architettura, anche se non ci sono prati verdi intorno.

Hi John
wow, thats quite the story! There certainly is alot of these horror stories from the past isn't there - what a shame indeed, hard to even comprehend.

you should probably post more of your Greek photos, why not?
if you have some like this, keep showing them.
elegant lighting, soft warm tones mixed with the blue sky, great texture and a sad heart warming story to accompany it makes it that much more meaningful. excellent TE post

Hello John,
thank you so much both for this wonderful dedication and for the inspiration and encouragement you are offering me and other members so generously! The story of the monastery of Arcadi is fascinating and has become a solid legend in the Greek consciousness. I recall how it terrified me during History lesson at school. I learned a lot of details I didn't know or remember from your note too! I love the light, the colours and the textures of your picture. The perspective and shapes of the church are very well placed and attract the viewer instantly. I also like the way you handled the contrast, the lovely warm and cold colours exude a dramatic intensity. Congratulations and thank you very much again!
All the best, have a lovely weekend,

Hello John!

Thanks for reminding me of our honeymoon which my wife and me spent there in April 1987! We stayed in Rethymnon and visited Arkadi by bus. My wife took a photo which is still hanging in our bedroom: open stairs without any railing somewhere in one of the monastery's inner courts. Purely graphic.

Can you remember if these stairs still exist?

Regards from Rhineland

  • Great 
  • Tue Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9149 W: 57 N: 15360] (56924)
  • [2016-09-17 13:01]

Hello John,
What a beautiful photo of this old monastery, which has an interesting story attached to it too. The colours are so vivid in the appealing sunlight and the perfectly blue sky makes the best background for the warm colours of the old walls and roof tiles. You chose an excellent POV and included the tree in the upper right hand corner very well. Great photo with a most relaxing mood!

Hello John,

you have shared here a wonderful picture from Greece showing this very interesting composition with much details to explore. Excellent sharpness and light managment. Perfect contribution to TE.TFS.

With regards from Luxembourg


Hello John
Nice dedicate this picture to Ourania, our friend from Greece.
Nice photos from your archive a few years ago made the holiday in Crete.
This is wonderful church of the Holy Monastery of Arkadi.
And my country Serbia has been enslaved by the Ottoman Empire for 600 years.
Much blood has been spilled for freedom.
It is not unknown to us such a history that you describe in the text.
Technically and visually fantastic photos.
Kind regards

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