The Holy Stavropegiac and Patriarchal Preveli Monastery of St. John the Theologian, known as the Monastery of Preveli, comprises two main building complexes, the ruined Lower Monastery of St. John the Baptist, and the currently operational Upper (Rear) Monastery of St. John the Theologian.
The monastery was probably founded in the Middle Ages, during the occupation of Crete by the Republic of Venice, its founder being a feudal lord named Prevelis. It developed over several centuries as a religious and cultural centre for the local population. After the Ottoman Turkish occupation of the island, Abbot Melchissedek Tsouderos led a group of rebels in the Greek War of Independence in 1821, one result of which was that the monastery was destroyed, but later rebuilt. In 1866 and 1878, the monastery was again active in organising rebellions against the Turks, which helped contribute to Crete's eventual independence and then its political union with Greece.
In the Battle of Crete in 1941, Agathangelos Lagouvardos helped supply British, Australian and New Zealand troops on the island, and provided shelter for them. A group of Australian soldiers protected by the monastery managed to secure their rescue by submarine from the island at Preveli Beach. After this was discovered, the Lower Monastery was destroyed by German forces.
The upper monastery contains numerous religious relics and icons, and many of its buildings, now heavily restored, are open to the public. There are also a number of monuments to the work of the monastery during the Second World War, many of them financed by rescued Australian former soldiers. The town of Prevelly in Western Australia was named after the monastery.
Preveli beach and lagoon (Greek Λίμνη του Πρέβελη), sometimes known locally as "Palm Beach", is located below the monastery, at the mouth of the Kourtaliótiko gorge. Behind the beach is an extensive glade of palm trees. The beach is regularly served by tourist boats from the nearby resort of Plakias.