The monasteries Vrontisi & Varsamonero, build in the second Byzantine period (961-1204).
Of the monastery buildings, only the three-aisled church of Agios Fanourios has been preserved, which was built at different times. It is one of the most outstanding Christian buildings in Crete, mainly because of its 14th and 15th-century murals. Among them are representations of the Sacred Fanourios (Phanourios) and John, to whom the church is dedicated, a picture of St. Onuphrios or the Assumption of Mary.
The church has wonderful wall paintings, excellent samples of the Byzantine painting of the Cretan school, which flourished during the Venetian domination; it is from this school that the famous Domenico Theotokopoulos (“El Greco”) started his art. The wall paintings of the lateral nave of the church have been made by the famous Cretan painter and hagiographer Konstantinos Rikos. It was also a cultural center, including a religious school and a large library with also non-religious texts from Greek antiquity.
In 1947, after World War II, the Monastery has been restored under the supervision of the eminent Greek archaeologist N. Platon; the works of restoration are still in progress under the supervision of the Ephorate of Byzantine Monuments.
Unfortunately, the church is normally closed, it opens only on Saturdays at 9:00 clock for church service.
The monastery overlooks the plain of Mesara and the Libyan Sea on one side while the peaks of Psiloritis dominate the other side. It is a two-aisled church, and Saint Anthony and Saint Thomas are its patron saints. The bell tower has an independent entrance and is composed of four arches. The earliest written reference to the monastery is dated 1474. However, the monastery is older than that and it may have been in existence since the second Byzantine era.
During Venetian rule, the monastery included notable painters and scholars in its community. Michalis Damaskinos, a famed painter of religious works, painted six of his best icons while at Vrondisi. His works combined elements of Byzantine and Renaissance art. These icons are now in the Museum of Agia Ekaterini in IraklionRelated links or synonyms.
As with many monasteries on Crete, Vrondisi played an important role during the various struggles of the Cretan population. It was the headquarters of Captain Michalis Korakas during the revolutions against the Turks in 1866 and 1878. The monastery and its community received sharp reprisals as a result of this revolutionary activity.