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Atalis or Bali Monastery
Category: Monastery
Prefecture: Rethymno
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Atalis or Bali Monastery

We do not know exactly when the Atalis or Bali Monastery was built. We do know that the first reported renovation was in 1635, when the Venetian rule of the island was almost at its end. Being in the middle of nowhere, the monastery served as an excellent refuge for rebels and outlaws all during the Venetian and Turkish rule.

The Bali Monastery is located overlooking the settlement of Bali, 37 km from Rethymnon. The monastery is also known as Atalis Monastery from the Venetian name for the seaside village, which was derived from the name of the ancient town of Astalis. The monastery is believed to have been founded in the 17th century. Its church is dedicated to St John and its façade has examples of the renaissance architectural style.

After the failure of the 1866 revolution, however, the Turks caught on, and they launched a fierce attack against all monasteries in the region.The historical Arkadi monastery went up in flames, and the Turks destroyed the monastery of John the Baptist and killed the monks. Half-ruined and forgotten, the monastery went on “living” until 1941, when the last of its monks died. In the forty years that followed, it was looted by men and ruined by the forces of Nature, so that it was no longer recognisable.In 1983, though, Father Anthimos came to live here, and aided by the Department of Byzantine Antiquities, the EOT and the faithful who never gave it up, he restored the monastery. Twelve years later, the outcome is incredible. Not only is it impossible to tell what condition the place was in, but the visit will charm you, especially if you treat yourself to a nice picnic in the shaded yard behind the church.Bring a snack, sit at the wooden table, and let your eyes wander over the sea. Father Anthimos will offer you cool water and refreching apricots right fromthe tree.