The Preveli Monastery is about 35 kilometers in the south of Rethimno and the famous and beautiful palm forest is next to it. The monastery is in the west of the Kourtaliotiko gorge and under the Agios Vasileios municipality.
The monastery consists of two buildings, Kato Monastiri of Prodromos and Piso Monastiri of Theologos. Kato Monastiri is near the Kourtaliotiko River or Megalos Potamos (i.e. Big River). The church is in the center of the yard and surrounded by many buildings. Young monks with laborers and stock farmers lived in that monastery. It is not inhabited today.
Piso Monastiri is about 3 kilometers from Kato Monastiri and has a great view to the Libyan Sea. The church of Agios Ioannis Theologos and Evagelismos of Theotokos (with two aisles) is in the center of the precinct. The abbot’s quarters, a room with oven, a library, cells, a cemetery etc are some of the buildings around the church.
There is a museum in the monastery in order the valuable holly relics in the monastery to be kept.
A part of Kato Monastery was founded in the Second Byzantine Era that is in the end of the 10th century to the beginning of the 11th. The 1594 date is written on a bell of the monastery.
The monastery was mentioned as “tou Megalou Potamou kata ti nison Kritin” (i.e. of the Big River in the island of Crete) before 1700. The today’s name possibly came from the surname Prevelis. He is said to have been a member of the large Prevelis family of Rethimno that renovated the monastery.
The monastery played an important role in the revolution against the Turks and was constantly attacked by the conquerors. It also played an important role during the German Occupation as many Greeks and allies (that were leaving to the Middle East by submarines) found shelter in the monastery. The Germans destroyed the Monastery in 1941 and arrested the monks.