The municipality of
Agia Varvara



Aghia Varvara is the main town in the municipality. It is built along the road at the highest point (580 m) between the Messara plain and the Malevizi region.
In Venetian times, Aghia Varvara included 12 neighbourhoods: Pirouniana, Miloniana, Kampaniana, Trapeziana, Barberiana, Papadiana, Ragouziana, Tithiana, Alidiana, Porti, Thalassiana and Kampithiana, from the names of different families.
The town enjoys a unique location with a splendid view into the Malevizi region, and a cool climate, particularly pleasant during the hot summer months. It is exposed to winds coming from every direction and gets a good share of rain during the winter months. It produces first-rate fruit and vegetables.
Aghia Varvara is mentioned in many Venetian documents of the 16th and 17th centuries, and in the Egyptian census of 1834 it is quoted as having 40 families. In 1881, it is mentioned as part of Megali Vrisi with 450 inhabitants and in 1900, in the same municipality, with 586 inhabitants. From 1920, it figures in all the censi as a community with a continuously growing number of inhabitants. Nowadays there are over 2000 inhabitants.
When the Turks conquered the island, Achmet Kioprouli Pasha took the image of Aghia Varvara and dedicated it to the Vezir Tzami, today the church of Aghios Titos in Heraklion.
Because of its strategic location on the main north-south axis, the town was often exposed to fierce battles. A famous warrior, Mathiou Kapitakis or Mathioudakis was born here: he fought side to side with Karaiskakis and was killed at Faliro. His comrade-in-arms, Logios, was the hero of Aghios Thomas.
As you reach the village, on the north side there is a rock with a chapel dedicated to Profitis Ilias. On this rock -which used to be twice as large but part of it fell off at the beginning of the 19th century- there used to be an ancient temple.
Nowadays, the visitor can find every kind of commodity and facility on hand at the modern town of Aghia Varvara. In summer a special 'tsikoudia' feast, and in early spring a carnival feast are organized by the Cultural Association of the town.
Don't forget to visit both the old and the new churches in the centre of the town, dedicated to the patron saint, Aghia Varvara.
Three Byzantine churches are also well worth a visit: Profitis Ilias, Aghios Giorgos and Aghios Ioannis, and of course the old monastery of Aghia Pelagia by the cemetery.


This village belongs to the municipality of Aghia Varvara and lies at 530 m above sea level. It is 30 km away from Heraklion and has a panoramic view over the whole area to the SE of Aghia Varvara.
The village is very old and the first reference we have of it, is in a document of 1371, where it is quoted as a feudal property of Petrus de Medio, and again in a document dated 1380. Later, it figures in all the Venetian censi of the 16th and 17th centuries. In 1881, and in 1900, it figures as part of the Megali Vrisi municipality, with 344 inhabitants. From 1920, it figures in all the censi as a community with a continuously growing number of inhabitants. Nowadays there are over 800 inhabitants.
The village owes its name to the tripartite domed church, which still preserves part of its original wall paintings. The north nave is dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the south one to Saint Charalambos and the centre one to the patron saint, Saint Thomas; the church is located in the centre of the village.
Of the 40 churches that are said to be in the village, the visitor should make a point of visiting the following: Aghia Paraskevi, with remains of wall paintings, Michail Archangelos, with wall paintings of the 12th century, Aghios Panteleimonas, Aghios Ioannis, and the chapel of Panagia Kardiotissa at the lovely site of Mouzouras.
There are a great many caves and cisterns cut out of the rock in the area; the caves were used as graves. The village of Aghios Thomas boasts of two great personalities born there: Kirikas Chairetis Kalamaras and the empirical doctor and fighter Logios, born in 1771. He fought the Turks from 1800 to 1815. He is buried opposite the ancient town of Phaistos.


This settlement, 500 m distant from Aghios Thomas, used to form part of the former municipality. The name Argathia figures in all the Venetian censi of the 16th and 17th centuries. As of 1881, through a mistake in the spelling, it is recorded as Ardachtia. On the verge of collapse, the village was abandoned and has been rebuilt as a neighbourhood of Aghios Thomas, at Plaka.


Village belonging to the municipality of Aghia Varvara, three and a half kilometers away from the main town and located at an altitude of 640 m above sea level.
This village is even older than the former ones and we come across a reference to it in a document dated in 1248, where the settlement is recorded as belonging to the archbishopric of Crete. Another reference is found in a legal agreement established in 1411. The name figures in all the Venetian censi of the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as in the Turkish and Egyptian censi. In 1881, it forms part of the municipality of Zaros with about 180 inhabitants, and again in 1900. As of 1920 it is a commune in its own right, and today with the lower village of Kato Moulia it counts over 550 inhabitants.
The main church of the village, with wall paintings, is that of the patron saints, Saints Peter and Paul, and there is a village feast on the 29th June, in their honour. The lovely chapel of Zoodochos Pigis is also well worth a visit.


This village, on the road to Aghios Thomas, is distant 11 km - to the NE - from the main town of the municipality, Aghia Varvara. It lies at a height of 440 m above sea level.
The earliest reference to it, is to be found in the Duke's Archives of 1372, where it is mentioned as the feudal property of Nic. Venerio. The name figures in all the Venetian censi of the 16th and 17th centuries, as well as in the Turkish (1671) and Egyptian (1834) censi. In 1881, it forms part of the municipality of Megali Vrisi with about 170 inhabitants, and again in 1900 with only 21 inhabitants.
As of 1920, it is a commune in its own right, and today Douli has about 240 residents. The patron saint of the village is Aghios Panteleimonas and the feast of the Saint is celebrated on July 27th. A visit to the old church of Aghios Nikolaos is also a must. For those interested in paleontology, there are fossils to be found at the location 'Pirgos'.


Located 3 km away from the chief town of the municipality, Megali Vrissi lies at 620 m above sea level.
In the Barozzi document of 1577, it is mentioned as forming part of the province of Monofatsi and, in the Archives of Megalo Kastro (Heraklion), it is quoted in 1583 as having 71 inhabitants; there is also a reference to the village in the Basilicata document of 1630. The Turkish census records it with 47 families in 1671, and in the Egyptian one in 1834, it figures with 27 families. In the censi of 1881 and 1900 it is mentioned as a municipality in its own right with, respectively, 240 inhabitants and 307 inhabitants.
As of 1928, it becomes a commune and today it counts over 900 inhabitants. Saint Constantine is the patron saint of the village.
The churches of Aghia Anna and of the Panagia Almiri are worth visiting.
The Aeolian Park, one of the islands pioneering projects, has been installed in Megali Vrisi because of the good climatic conditions. It produces electricity of 5MW and contributes to the electrification of the area.


Formerly, Preveliana used to belong to the commune of Megali Vrisi and today it forms part of the municipality of Aghia Varvara.
It is referred to in the 1834 census and in the Choumourzis Vizantios document of 1842. The name is due to one of the first families in the village, the Venetian family Preveli.
The lovely old houses of the village are still standing and can be seen from the road.


Five and a half kilometers to the north of the main town in the municipality of Aghia Varvara, at a height of 610 m above sea level, the village of Prinias lies on the border of three regions: Malevizi, Kenourio and Monofatsi, and is recorded as forming part of all three regions in the censi.
Prinias figures in all the Venetian censi, in the Turkish one of 1671, and in the Egyptian one of 1834. In 1881, it forms part of the municipality of Kroussonas in the Malevizi region, with 225 inhabitants. In 1900 it is still in the same municipality with 348 inhabitants, and becomes a commune in its own right as of 1920. Nowadays, Prinias has 417 inhabitants.
It is famed as being one of the prettiest villages in all Crete in one of the loveliest parts of the island.
Ancient Rizinia and its cemetery are one of the main attractions, as is the height known as 'Perdikokorifi' with its unique panoramic view of the Heraklion prefecture.
An important reforestation programme has been implemented and the 150.000 trees recently planted will add even greater beauty to the area.
In the Prinias valley, there are several large stones (limestone) with peculiar shapes to which popular imagination has given different names such as 'The Old Woman's Cheese' or 'The Old Woman's Rusks' and so on.
A little after the 25th km on the Heraklion - Aghia Varvara road, one gets the best view of this valley.


To reach the village of Larani, follow the main road Heraklion-Aghia Varvara and turn right at the 25th km. At a height of 440 m, Larani lies to the SE of the town of Aghia Varvara, and belongs to the municipality of the same name.
An early reference to this village is found in a document dating to 1301. In all the Venetian censi, it figures as a double village, the upper or 'Pano Larani', and the lower or 'Kato Larani'. The name is due to the first family in the village. In 1881 and in 1900 it forms part of the municipality of Megali Vrisi. In 1920 it is a municipality in its own right, and in 1928 it forms part of the commune of Aghios Thomas, with 217 inhabitants.
As of 1940 it becomes an independent commune.
Today, Larani has a population of 268.
The feast of the Dormition of Our Lady on August 15th is much celebrated here, as the village is dedicated to the Panagia. The old church of Aghia Paraskevi in Larani is worth a visit.

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