Arkadi Monastery is located near the village Amnatos, 23km east of Rethymno. It is built at an altitude of 500m, on a fertile plateau with olive groves, vineyards, pine, cypress and oak trees. Around the monastery there are several picturesque chapels and from there starts the beautiful Arkadi gorge.The exact date of the foundation of the monastery is not known, but it is believed that it was actually founded by Byzantine Emperor Arkadios in the 12th century. Moreover, the monastery was called Tsanli Manastir by the Turks (i.e. beneficiary bell), as the Arkadi monastery was the only Cretan monastery that had the right to ring its bells.The initial church of the monastery was dedicated to Saint Constantine and some ruins of it are preserved in the northwestern part of the monastery enclosure. Arkadi is surrounded by massif walls that made it impregnable from the enemies and its rich fortification attracted the rebellious Cretans. Many Turkish and Greek documents are referring to the life and the adventures of the monastery, that provided educational, national, ethical and monetary support for the locals.Arkadi is certainly the most historic monastery of Crete and has become the most sacred symbol of the Struggle of the Cretans for Freedom. It is the theater of the tragic battle of 1866, which opened the way for the liberation of the island in 1898. Indeed, UNESCO has designated Arkadi as a European Freedom Monument
Fodele located in a green valley formed on the shores of the river Pantomantris. Fodele, which is built on the site of the old city Pantomatri, takes its name from its first inhabitant. The valley is full with citrus trees, which are famous throughout the island. Inside the village and along the river, there are many taverns, offering traditional food under the shade of many huge plane trees. It is worth walking in the streets of the village and visit the churches of St. George and the Assumption. Just outside the village, you can visit the churches of Annunciation, St. George, St. John and Virgin Mary. Fodele is considered the birthplace of the greatest representative of the Cretan School of Iconography, El Greco (1541-1614). El Greco lived in Crete for 26 years and then he moved to Italy. The house where he grew up is located 1km southwest of the village. It is well reserved and operates as a museum with copies of his works. Near the house, it is worth visiting the very old church of Panagia (Virgin Mary), which is considered to have inspired the great artist.
The El Greco House and Museum
The El Greco House and Museum in Fodele ,there are plenty of signs showing the way to the Museum, which lies within walking distance, at about 1km from the village centre. A small collection of memorabilia and some interestingly displayed reproductions are housed in a building dating back to the life of this world-renowned painter and renaissance figure. The collection of reproductions of El Greco's paintings, split into small rooms, are hung with back-lighting accentuating their own light and colour. They are full of soulful expression and grace. I particularly liked a painting of a young woman, representing Mary Magdelene (1557), her hand across her breast, looking at breaking clouds, is a thing of great beauty