The importance of the monastery is mainly historical. In 1866 Greek rebels were barricaded here, trying to expel the Ottomans from Crete.
This was at the end of the failed revolt. The monastery served as a fortress where 150 Greek rebels and their families barricaded themselves. When the rebels, headed by their leader Abbott Gabriel, saw the Turks succeeding in conquering the monastery and beginning to slaughter them and their families, they preferred to blow up the building and sacrifice themselves, rather than fall into the hands of the Ottomans.
Since then, the monastery has been a Greek symbol of heroism and freedom. Though the rebellion against the Ottomans failed, years later the island of Crete was liberated and became once more a part of Greece.
The gunpowder warehouse on the northern side of the monastery complex is worth the visit. This was where the heroic explosion of the rebels took place. There is also a small museum where you can see memorabilia from the historical event, such as clothes with the blood of the victims that are still visible.
In addition to its history, the monastery is a nice and well-kept area that will also interest visitors not interested in church sightseeing. However, a visit to the impressive church from 1587 in the courtyard of the monastery is still very enjoyable.