The village and commune of Manoliopoulo nestles in the hinterland of the Province of Kydonia, 20 Km from Chania in the direction of the main road to Kissamos. On reaching Gerani take a left turn towards Loutraki/Manoliopoulo. The village is approximately 7Km from Gerani.
The first written documents for the village of Manoliopoulo date back to 1834. According to the Egyptian census of that year, 14 Christian and 3 Turkish families lived in Manoliopoulo (Pashley, Manoliopoulo Travels in Crete, II, 310). In 1881 the village is enrolled as Manilopoulo of the Municipality of Alikianos and counts 122 Christian inhabitants and in1900 becomes formally known as Manoliopoulo of Municipality of Alikianos, by which time the number of inhabitants had grown to 187. In 1920, Manoliopoulo is inhabited by 223 people and for the first time it constitutes its own commune. In 1928 it counts 230 inhabitants but numbers have fluctuated since then; in 1940 there were 404 inhabitants but by 1951 this had reduced to 305, in 1961 numbers were 254 and in 1971, only 248.
There is no reference to the village in any of the Venetian census’ so we conclude that it was during Turkocracy that the village was first inhabited. The Muslims of the village must have left some time before 1881, otherwise there would have been reports of Muslim inhabitants in the census of that year. It is said that many Muslims abandoned the small villages to take refuge in the cities during the Revolution of 1866 – 1869.
According to the elderly, before the village was destroyed, it was built in the place called Kalyves. The reason that the village was destroyed was the killing of a Turk who used to follow the route from Kyparissos to Vatolakkos, where he lived, going through Vlihades (right from Koufos). It was morning when his corpse was found next to a pear; the point was named ‘The pear of Koutsoukalis’ after the Turk commandant of Vatolakkos. Koutsoukalis decided to retaliate since he considered the locals responsible for this.
He formed a small army of Turks from the surrounding villages and in a sudden attack during the night they slaughtered all the Christians of Kalyves and burnt their houses.
The only person who was saved from the slaughter was a young man from the Chatzidakis family, who happened to be absent from the village that night. As soon as he found out what had happened, he hid in a nearby stream (nowadays the square of the village is at that point) and from there he managed to seek refuge on an island in Cyclades. Many years later the son of this man came back to settle in the place where today Manoliopoulo is located. The morfology of the ground together with the dense vegetation offered him a shelter. His name was Manolis-Manolakis.
At the place where the old village used to be the locals removed the stones of the ruins and used the land for the cultivation of cereals to cover their needs.In the same area, during the construction of the church of Agios Antonios on the ruins of the old church, 15 Christian tombs were found. The church was built above the old cemetery.
Apart from the Chatzidakis family who are indigenous, the rest of the families who settled in the village were either refugees from Sfakia (such as Katsanevakis, Daskalakis), from Sebronas (Frantzeskakis), from Psathogianno (Orfanoudakis), from Karanou-Skafi (Stamatakis) or various men who came to the village and married local women (such as Marinakis from Alikambos, Mavredakis, Venetis from Epirus, Manioudakis etc).
During the the ‘50s in Melissokipos, 6 tombs with small clay pots in them were found which dated back 450 years. The main church of Agios Ioannis Rigologos was built on the ruins of an older church 93 years ago. The icons of the old church that are now kept in the main church, are dated 200 years ago.
Sources: President of Municipality of Manoliopoulo, Mr Marinakis Gregorios
Publishing House: Arsinoe, Crete Dedication local stories, 1985
Publishing House: Georvasakis, “The palce and the people”, Author Penelope Doudoulaki, 2000
President of Cultural Association Of Manoliopoulo