Centromeres attach chromosomes to spindle microtubules during cell division and, despite this conserved role, show paradoxically rapid evolution and are typified by complex repeats. We used longread sequencing to generate the Col-CEN Arabidopsis thaliana genome assembly that resolves all five centromeres. The centromeres consist of megabase-scale tandemly repeated satellite arrays, which support CENH3 occupancy and are densely DNA methylated, with satellite variants private to each chromosome. CENH3 preferentially occupies satellites that show least divergence and occur in higherorder repeats. The centromeres are invaded by ATHILA retrotransposons, which disrupt genetic and epigenetic organization. Centromeric crossover recombination is suppressed, yet low levels of meiotic DSBs occur that are regulated by DNA methylation. We propose that Arabidopsis centromeres are evolving via cycles of satellite homogenization and retrotransposon-driven diversification. / BBSRC grants BB/S006842/1, BB/S020012/1 and BB/V003984/1.