One of the largest villages of Crete, in the north of the valley of the river Sarantapichos. It is 28 km away from Ierapetra and 40 km away from Aghios Nikolaos, in a verdurous slope within immense olive groves, with an unlimited view to the valley of Myrtos, the Libyan Sea and the mountain peaks that surround it.The village took its name from ancient Malla, which is speculated to have been built at the same place or somewhere nearby.
Ancient Malla was a city-state,with an army and a currency of its own, which presented Zeus, the Labyrinth,the Eagle and the word MAL. It is included in the 100 cities of Crete and in the “Cretans’ Common”. A lot of archaeological findings are now in the Museum of Heraklion, in museums abroad and in private collections. The inscriptions from ancient Malla include treaties between “Malla and Lyttos”. “There shall neither be any spoliation of Malla by the Lyttos residents nor of Lyttos by the Malla residents”.
Lyttos, an ancient city in the plateau of Lasithi, had often rumblings with “Malla”, probably about the ownership and use of their mountain borders. An inscription found in 1848 contains the text of a treaty with the city Teos of Ionia. The city “Mallos” of Minor Asia is thought to have been a colony of Malla. The city Malla is also referenced in the alliance treaty of 30 Cretan cities with the king Eumenis II of Pergamos. The most important of the gods the residents of Malla worshiped was Zeus Monnitios and he was also venerated in the adjacent cities. One of their greatest festivities was Ypervoia. Evidence of habitation during the Hellenic and Roman eras has been found. During the Venetian rule, Malla, the seat of a feudal lord with two towers, was the largest village of Kastelania of Ierapetra.
In 1583 it had 1483 residents, 5 parishes and 7 priests. In the following censuses, in 1881 it had 754 Christians and 15 Muslims. In 1951 it had 1253 residents and in 2001 499.
Malles has been visited by a lot of travelers who have written down their impressions,the most prominent of whom being the Italian GEROLA. The Malles region also includes the abandoned village Aghios Georgios Loutra,the Holy Monastery of Exakousti, the old Monastery of Armos that was the summer seat of the bishop of “Iera” and, as it has been reported, 7 bishops have been buried there.
Malles, except for their wonderful natural landscapes,the special routes for the nature lovers to the plateau of Katharos, to the source of Retiko and the surrounding mountains, has also important ecclesiastical monuments. Panagia (Our Lady) Messohoritissa, a church built in the times of the Palaiologoi dynasty, Saint Nicolas, the two-aisle church of Saint Charalambos and Afentis Christos (Our Lord the Christ), with the most beautiful temple,the work of the wood-carvers of Lasithi who specialized in church temples.Now a large village, Malles, with a rich history, folklore, civilization and strugglesin different historical periods, was visited by the national leader Eleftherios Venizelos. During the German Occupation, 18 people were executed. Itnurtured many and important Fighters. It used to be a Community, a former Municipality and is now a Local Department of the Municipality of Ierapetra.
Rich in olive production, it has a cultural center, a post office, a football field andteam, cultural associations, an agricultural co-op and many traditional coffeehouses.