Close to the scenic village of Agios Thomas (Saint homas) in province Monofatsi there are the ruins of one of the largest fortification works in the Cretan inland. Atop of a high hill overlooking the valleys of Profitis Ilias and Venerato, you will find the ruins of Melissa fortress built during the 2nd Byzantine Era (11th- 12th century).
This building initially housed a local feudal lord that possessed the surrounding land which is still full of vineyards. Even today, the visitor can admore the wine presses carved in the soft limestone located around 130m south of the fort.
During the Venetian rule, the fort was part of the dense and well-organized network of fortresses in Monofatsi province, which controlled every movement in the region. Later, the area west of the fort housed the small settlement Melissa, next to a spring that still has water. Today there is almost nothing left from these buildings.
Its east side is naturally fortified by steep cliff, while access from the west is very easy through dirt road starting near Agios Thomas. From the west, the fort was protected by a large fortification wall which today survives in very poor condition. The main building of the fort, a small tower, is located amid the fortress.
Next to the tower you will find the white chapel of the Zoodohos Pigi (Life Giving Spring), which is visible from far away. At this location it is possible to have operated a small monastery dedicated to Virgin Mary (Panagia Melissani) during the Venetian Era. A similar fort is located close to Katalagari village, housing a small tower, fortification walls and a chapel dedicated to Zoodochos Pigi and was called Castel del Corner..
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