The Varsamonerou Monastery (GR: Μονή Βαρσαμόνερου) lies in the surrounding fields of the village Voriza, 54.5 kms from Heraklion. The monastery is abandoned and, though its cells have been destroyed, its church has some of the most remarkable wall paintings in Crete.
These paintings show the high artistic level of the different schools in 15th century Crete.
Nowadays the church is known as Agios (Saint) Fanourios but it is also dedicated to Our Lady of the Way and to Saint John: through the years, several extensions were added to the original nave.
The oldest section of the church, dedicated to Our Lady of the Way, has wall paintings that date back to the 14th century. This north nave contains, among others, the outstanding representations of Saint John from Damas, Saint Onoufrios and the Dormition; in the south -and more recent nave- dedicated to Saint John the Forerunner, one can admire several scenes from the Passion (The Entrance to Jerusalem, the Last Supper, the Treason of Judas), the Crucifixion and the Epitaph.
The arch and eastern section of the church are from the 15th century (1400-1407).
All these wall paintings form an important part of the Cretan heritage during the first centuries of Venetian rule.
In the Varsamonerou Monastery there were other remarkable icons, painted by the famous artist Angelos, and the beautifully carved iconostasis of the monastery is now in the Historical Museum of Crete
, in Heraklion. This iconostasis is an outstanding example of religious art.
The monastery, famous for all the art representations it possessed, was also known for its studies: a great number of books were to be found in its library. Not only religious books but ancient Greek texts as well: a catalogue, dating back to 1644, gives us the names of several philosophical treaties by such writers as Xenophon, Eschynis, Plutarch, etc.
The monastery was abandoned at the beginning of the 18th century.
Close historical bonds link this monastery to that of Vrontisiou.