Asomati Monastery at

Amari

Asomati Monastery in Amari
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The monastery of Asomati is located 35km southeast of Rethymnon, amid the verdant valley of Amari formed between Mount Kedros and Range Ida. The church of the monastery is dedicated to the Gathering of the Archangels, who are also known as Taxiarches or Asomati (celebr. on November 8)

The monastery was probably founded in the second Byzantine period, as a local document of the 13th century refers to the monastery of the Archangel Michael. It was associated with the noble family Varouchas at the end of the Venetian era, while during the occupation of Crete by the Ottomans it was burnt down.

During the 18th century it housed the Diocese of Lambi and when its abbot, Manassis, became bishop, he undertook a large-scale reconstruction of the monastery. In 1812, Osman Pasha Pnigaris or Papa Giannis, who had been sent by the Sultan to put an end to the janissary in Crete and is said to have been the Secretary of the Patriarchate in Constantinople named Vassilios, participated in the divine service. During the revolution of 1821 it was abandoned for a short time and a little later it was rebuilt, starting a prosperous course.

The monastery is also known as Asomati School, as an agricultural school started its operation here after 1927. Since then, the architecture of this great religious monument has changed dramatically, with the construction of many auxilliary buildings. The school was one of the most important research institutes in Crete, attracting even visitors who came on an excursion to admire the beautiful gardens with fountains and peacocks. Today the monastery is being restored, while it houses a research department of the National Agricultural Research Foundation with livestock interests.

The complex was surrounded by massive walls, which made it a powerful fortress and attracted the rebels from the region. Indeed, the monastery was the basis of Chortatzis rebel family and even today you can see the grave of Georgios Hortatzis outside the nearby Byzantine church of Agia Paraskevi west of the school. After the extensive phases of reconstruction for the needs of the agricultural school, the wall was demolished. The oldest buildings date to the 17th century, while the rest date to the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the middle of the enclosure we meet the Frankish-Byzantine temple of the monastery, which was founded in the 14th century as a single-aisled vaulted temple and was reconstructed in the first decades of the 20th century as a cruciform church with a dome. The original temple, in turn, was built on the foundations of a 10th-century temple, which collapsed during the earthquake of 1303. Six tombs and bronze crosses of the 10th century have been found in the floor of the temple.

The monastery houses the icons of the Holy Trinity (Agia Triada - 1619) and the Archangels, painted by the abbot Manassis (1755). Also the Historical Museum of Crete hosts many sacred vessels such as icons, books and gold embroidered vestments.

Timeline

  • 961-1204: The Archangel Michael Monastery is founded.
  • 1272-78: Georgios Hortatzis settles in the monastery and starts the Revolution of Chortatzis against the Venetians.
  • 1810: A strong earthquake destroys the monastery, which is restored.
  • 1812: The envoy of the Turks in Crete against janissarism, Osman Pasha, secretly receives communion in Asomati.
  • 1818: The Turks burn the abbey, due to the revolutionary activity of the monks.
  • 1821: The Turks destroy the monastery completely and slaughter the abbot Gerasimos.
  • 1823: The monastery still houses rebels and is re-destroyed.
  • 1833: In the Egyptian Era (1831-41), the Monastery gets restored and reoperates.
  • 1866: In the revolution of 1866-69, the monastery becomes a revolutionary center. The monks join the rebel groups of Amari province, despite the orders of Bishop Paisios to "welcome" the Turkish Army and leave it to “calm” the region.
  • 1868: Kostaros Voloudakis edits and signs a letter to the Queen of England, asking her help for the Cretans.
  • 1930: The Agricultural school of Asomati starts its operation.
  • 1935: The monastery is declared not operationable.

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Additional Info

  • Location: Rethymnon Prefecture
  • Type: Monastery
  • Accessibility: Paved road

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