The Monastery of Prophet Elijah (Profitis Elias) is built above a hill with panoramic views, 20km south of Rethymno, next to Roustika village. It is a relatively unknown monastery throughout Crete, although it was founded in the Venetian Era and belongs to the most historic convents of the island.
The monastery was destroyed several times by the Turks, the last time being during the revolution of 1866, and participated actively in the struggle against the Turkish rule. Thus, the buildings of the monastery, apart from the temple, were built in their current form after 1866. Moreover, the contribution of Profitis Ilias to the preservation of Cretan history is enormous, since it housed the Historical Archive of Crete during the German Occupation.
The monastery has been built with fortress-like architecture. In the center of the yard you will see the three-aisled basilica with a dome dedicated to Prophet Elijah (celebr. 20 July), Holy Trinity and Agia Zoni. The belfry of the monastery, along with that of the monastery of Arkadi, are the only ones surviving Venetian bell towers in Crete. Around the courtyard you will also see the two-storey monks' cells, the incomplete guest house and the refectory.
Inside the temple you will see the very old wooden iconostasis, the throne (1843) and the pulpit. Moreover, many relics are stored in the sanctuary, such as sacred vessels, vestments, gospels, crosses, relics of various saints, a brocade epitaph, old books (since 1640) and manuscripts (from 1620).
- 1587: A document verifies the existence of the monastery. The monastery was probably founded by the Byzantine family Vlastos.
- 1630-40: Abbot Metrophanes Vlastos starts the renovation of the church of the Monastery of Prophet Elias.
- 1646: After the conquest of western Crete by the Turks, in 1645, the erection works stop.
- 1646: Like Arkadi Monastery, Prophet Elijah is granted with the privilege to have a belfry, generally forbidden by the Turks. Thus, the Turks call it as Tsanli Manastir (bell privilege).
- 1655: The Turks don’t allow Profitis Ilias to use its bell tower.
- 1667: The erection of the temple eventually is completed.
- 1713: The Patriarch Kyrillos D declares Profitis Ilias as stavropegic, i.e. directly managed by the Patriarchate.
- 1778: The Patriarch Sophronius B renews the stavropegic identity of the monastery.
- 1797: The Patriarch of Saint Gregory E renews the stavropegic identity of the monastery.
- 1821: The monastery serves as a hideout for the local rebels and participates in the Struggle against the Turks.
- 1823: The army of Hussein Bey completely destroys the monastery, except the temple.
- 1831: After granting Crete to Egypt (1831-1840), abbot Symeon Kavakis restores the monastery of Prophet Elijah. The old church is demolished and a new one is built at this site.
- 1832: The new church of Prophet Elias is inaugurated.
- 1844-49: The sculptor Aetos Katzourakis constructs the chancel, the pulpit and bishop's throne.
- 1847: The painter Anthony Vevelakis paints the icon of the prophet Elijah, now located on the icon screen.
- 1866: The monastery offers help to the local rebels. The Turks level the monastery again, which was rebuilt a few years later.
- 1896: Agathangelos Vernados offers all the financial assets of the monastery to the rebels.
- 1905: Painter Gallinos paints the Pantocrator (Jesus) on the dome of the church.
- 1911: Due to the economic distress of the monastery, the construction of the guest house, which is incomplete till today, stops.
- 1941: Abbot Ierotheos Petrakis hides the Historical Archive of Crete in the monastery, protecting that from the Germans.