Oral Testimonies: The oral tradition of the village of Pervolakia, a tradition which has also been transferred to the 25-volume encyclopaedia of the special tribute to Crete, points out that:
The village inhabitants were originally settled in the area of the Toplou monastery, which used to bare the name Pervolakia, and then they moved to the area known now as Pervolakia. There are two opinions regarding this issue.
The first one is that the village inhabitants were forced to move due to raids carried out by Turkish pirate ships on the shore where Pervolakia were located, the second opinion--the one preserved via tradition--was that the inhabitants were forced to move further inland. More specifically: "…as a positive response to his being hosted by monks from the Toplou monastery, a Turkish commander from the area, gave an order for some of the landed property in the area to be donated to the monastery. These lands were expropriated and their inhabitants were moved to other areas. A number of those inhabitants came to the area known as Pervolakia today...' It is assumed that 3 families came to the area now known as Pervolakia. One of these families settled in the area known today as Upper Perivolakia, the second family settled in Lower Pervolakia, and the third one in Pezoula.
Apart from this theory there is another, rather different, one.
The inhabitants displaced from the Toplou monastery area initially settled in the area where the church of Agios Nikolaos is located. Later on they settled in the area currently known as Lower Pervolakia, while, in the case of the village of Pezoula, there were people already living there prior to the displaced populations arriving, and there was a clash between the two groups.
With regard to the theories presented above we can say that:
1. in the context of the above viewpoint regarding the movement of inhabitants we have no known specific time frame
2. The history of the Toplou monastery makes no reference to the above viewpoint.
3 Historical references prove that Pervolakia existed in 1670-1671 and that it was a glebe of Etia.
- THE AREA IN THE DISTANT PAST
Various findings, like the ancient objects which were discovered in caves and handed over to the Heraklion Museum, as well as cave-drawings found by French researcher, Paul Faure, in 1968, in a cave in Vornoferto, which have been preserved to this day and are dated to the Minoan era, prove that there were inhabitants in the area even more than 3500 years ago.
During the 18th century more inhabitants with the last name Drakakis became part of the population of the settlements; inhabitants that most probably came from the wider area of Askyfou, near the Sfakia region in the Chania prefecture.
According to Aggelakis' writings in 'Sitiaka', there are numerous stories about the brutality of the Turks, but the most well-known one is the one where Seragiannos Memetakas raped the daughter of the Konidakis widow.
The girl's mother actually managed to reach the Sultan in Constantinople, and won his sympathy, and, as a result, he gave the order for Memetakas to be executed by the Pasha of Heraklion.
One of the sources regarding Pervolakia during the Turkish Occupation is the renowned 'Codex of Martyrs': a list with the names and the confiscated properties of the warriors of 1821-1830.
Specifically, in the Codex there are 14 names of Pervolakia inhabitants that were no longer alive and whose properties, which up till then had been in the hands of ottoman rulers, were now being given to their heirs.
In this catalogue, for which no specific date has been established, there is no reference to the process followed in the handing-over of the properties, but there are similar type documents which are dated to 1827 and 1829.
The confiscation and registering of the properties of the rebelling serfs was common practice for the ottoman state.
The confiscation of properties belonging to rebels was part of the pushishment of those who renounced protection by the sultan.
The registering of properties that came into the possession of the ottomans this way was a regular plan of action applied by ottoman public administration. The confiscation of properties from the villages of Eastern Crete began in the autumn of 1821 and came to a close in September 1823.
The return of some of the confiscated properties began in April 1823 and continued into 1827 and 1829.
The settlements of the area experienced the hardships of World War II, as for over 4 years, the Italians, who were allied with the Germans, had settled in the school, and used brutal force and looted the homes of the poor inhabitants.
During the twenty-five year period of 1940-1965 the settlements had about 350 inhabitants, with most of them being from Lower Pervolakia (290) and the rest from Upper Pervolakia and Pezoula.
From 1965 onwards, primarily due to poverty, the migration of inhabitants to the cities began (Heraklion-Athens-Sitia, Ierapetra), and to neighbouring settlements and to countries abroad.
Later on the settlement of Kalo Nero began to develop, as many of those that settled there focussed their energies on profitable farms, which flourished due to the mild climate of the coastal area.
This migration scheme resulted in the depopulation of the settlements of Upper Pervolakia, Lower Pervolakia and Pezoula.
However, over recent years Pervolakia has become a popular destination, due to its gorge, that attracts many visitors, from 2003 onwards when it was given prominence through the Sitia Development Organization (OAS ) program.
Especially because of its gorge, the area has often been presented as a desirable travel destination, due to the efforts of the village's inhabitants.
The area has been visited by the television shows 'We Live in Greece' on NET channel, 'Without a car' on ET3 and 'Cretan tastes' on SitiaPress. In addition, collaborators from the magazine 'Cretan Panorama' have visited Pervolakia and watched the process of traditional food and deserts being prepared by Messrs Andonia and Ermioni Kondolaimakis, and have published special articles in issues 26 (March-April 2006) and 39 (December 2010-February 2011).
It is also noteworthy that the majority of inhabitants and those born in Pervolakia have ancient Greek names (e.g. Andronikos, Euripides, Odysseas, Elpiniki, Efterpi, Kallithea, etc), the reasons for which phenomenon have not been explained till this day.
The Pervolakia Gorge is a NATURA location with rich flora, fauna and endemic species. Over the last 3 years rock climbing has developed very much, and Albert Precht has set-out specific rock-climbing routes, both for the Gorge and for the big Cliff.
Precht had published a book on the subject, KRETA LIETTERN (Paradies – Ost Kreta), and half the book refers to the area of Pervolakia.
Sources: pervolakia.blogspot, the book "Σητεία" of the archaeologist N. Papadakis, the book "Αρμένοι Σητείας από τα βυζαντινά χρόνια μέχρι σήμερα" of N. Theocharakis, manuscripts and testimonies of Emmanuel Kontolemakis.
Translated and edited by: Yallou