Agarathos Monastery, one of the oldest monasteries on Crete (founded during the 2nd Byzantine era), is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
During the 16th century, the monastery started being fortified and taking on the form of a citadel. During the era of Venetian rule, it was an important seminary for clergymen. During the era of Ottoman rule, nothing of the old centre of education and culture remained and in 1821 the Ottomans slaughtered the monks and set fire to the buildings.
The church was reconstructed in 1894 and its old glory was restored upon the end of Ottoman rule.
The sites of the monastery include the surviving sections of the old monastery, the church with its modern murals depicting Cretan saints and the renowned 'Rogdia tis Agarathou', the Pomegranate Tree of Agarathos.
According to tradition, the icon of the Virgin Mary due to which this monastery was built was found beneath this tree, which is thus considered sacred. It is a relic of the worship of sacred trees, which existed on pre-Christian Crete and is found at other monasteries and places of worship on the island.
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