The historic Holy Monastery of Prevelis is located at the south of Rethymnon, west of the mouth of Kourtaliotis (“Great River”). It is one ofthe most famous and respected monasteries in Crete, in a lushand verdantlandscape.
The monastery comprises two separate building complexes located within1.7 kmfrom each other, the Lower (Kato) Monastery of Saint John the Baptist and the Rear (Pisso) Monastery of Saint John the Theologian.
The first complex the visitor meets coming from Rethymnon is the Lower Monastery of Saint John the Baptist, which is ruined. Located near the GreatRiver and the arched bridge in the area,it was founded during the 10th to 11th century. The monastery was previously used almost all year round, as the surrounding areas were ideal for farming and livestock. However it was abandoned as it was pillaged and destroyed repeatedly by various conquerors.
In 1941 after the Battle of Crete and the establishment of the German occupation, the monastery hosts more than 5000 soldiers of allied forces, waiting for submarines to move them to Egypt. On 25thAugust of the same year the Germans destroy the monastery and many monks are put to jail in Chania.
Germans also steal the Holy Cross of the monastery and on 13th September 1941 the plane that would carry the Cross in Germany could not take off mysteriously. The Germans deliver the Cross to the local police and the plane manages to fly.The monks returned to the monastery in 1943.
Later, in 1979 the Australian veteran survivor of World War II Geoffrey Edwards founded the monastery of St. John near Perth, southwest Australia, in gratitude for the hospitality of the monks after the Battle of Crete. In 1980 unknown people desecrated the Lower Monastery and figures of Saints were replaced by paintings and slogans about drugs.
The monastery is situated 36 km. far from Rethymnon and near the monastery there is the gorge that leads into the Libyan Sea and the famous beach of Preveli with its magnificent Palm Grove.
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