The Monastery of Aghia Irini (Santa Irene) is built at an altitude of 260m at the foot of Mount Vrisinas, about 5km south of Rethymnon. It operates as a nunnery and is one of the oldest monasteries in Crete, built before 1362.Until 1990, when the restoration works started, Agia Irini was a jumble of dilapidated buildings. Today, it regarded as one of the most beautiful monasteries of the island, as it was restored with great care and in accordance with the original monastic architecture of its bygone era. Indeed, it has been awarded with a European for cultural heritage for conserving its architecture.The monastery reminds of a walled fortress from far. In the center of its enclosure, there is the quite new church of St. Irene, and around it there are the nuns' cells, the old olive mill, the chapel of Raphael, Nicholas and Irene, the small museum of the monastery, the refectory, workshops for painting, embroidery and sewing. Outside the courtyard you’ll see the old three-aisled church of St. Irene, St. Catherine and St. Euphemia, which has not been restored yet.