The pottery village of Thrapsano
Thrapsano, Crete is located at an altitude of 340 m in the province of Pediada in the Heraklion prefecture, some 30 km south-east of Heraklion. Thrapsano is identified with its pottery and particularly with the crafting of large-sized ceramic storage jars called pitharia, a basic storage facility in Crete from the Minoan era to this very day. The name Thrapsano also relates to pottery and derives most probably from the verbs "thravo" (break) and "psino" (bake), since many vessels broke during the baking process.
According to the historian Stergios Spanakis (Towns and Villages of Crete, 1st Vol.), Thrapsano was first mentioned as a settlement reported as Trapsiano and Thrapsiano in 1379 in the Ducal File of Hantaka (former name for Heraklion) documents.
The village is well known on the island particularly to seniors because of the so-called Ventema. Up until the end of the 60s, during the summer months, potters from Thrapsano used to relocate in teams to various villages and towns in order to fabricate the large storage jars called which were to big to be transported.
After the end of the Ventema, permanent pottery workshops were established around the village. The art of pottery has continuously developed since then and is the basic occupation for many residents. Today, pottery constitutes one of the main economic factors of the village growth, maintaining its tradition and its historical identity at the same time. Other occupations are agriculture (olive trees and vineyards) and flower growing (mostly carnations) in greenhouses and in open fields.
Places worth seeing:
- The numerous pottery workshops where you can watch the traditional art of pottery and choose from the biggest perhaps variety of earthen utensils.
- The church of Panagia Pigadiotissa (= Holy Mother of the well) with its miraculous well. According to a myth, when some people fell into the well it miraculously overflew, spilling them out and thus saving them from drowning.
- The lake of Livada which is some 800 m north of the village. The locals used to exploit clay from the area, creating a pond which in time was enlarged and transformed into a reservoir. Today, the reservoir covers an area of 21.000 sq.m. and stores approximately 210.000 cub.m. of water, with a seasonal change in the water level.
If you happen to be in the area during the middle of July, you can visit Thrapsano during the 3 day events held in honor of the potters every year (17-19th July).
How to get there
Follow the road south of Heraklion with direction to Viannos.