The settlement Maroulas is located 10km southeast of the city Rethymno at an altitude of 240 meters, approximately. The oldest signs of habitation in the area of Maroulas are dated back to Late Minoan III period to which belongs a well-organized cemetery with chamber tombs and burials in jars at the location of Mezaria. The foundation of the settlement itself, belongs, rather, to the second Byzantine period, although the first written records come from the late Venetian period and particularly from the 16th and 17th century. Based on these sources the village had joined the “Castellania of Rethymnon”, one of the four Castellanias of Rethymno district which were established during the 14th century. During this period, the settlement was referred to as Maroylas in the census of Fr. Barozzi, in 1577, and as well as in that of Pietro Castrofilaka, in 1583 in which 298 residents were recorded.
The settlement is developed almost amphitheatrically on a hillside, with the houses lying one close to another and around small and narrow streets. The houses are arranged almost as an inseparable unity, since they are sharing their side walls and are forming large block-neighborhoods around the narrow streets. Despite the increasing residential development during the recent decades, its architectural wealth is largely preserved making Maroylas one of the most important settlements of the Cretan countryside. This is also the reason why it was declared a historical monument, in 1985. Its continuous habitation over the centuries, combined with the various natural disasters and other human interventions, have eliminated the traces of earlier period’s habitation. The majority of its buildings date back to the late Venetian (16th and early 17th century) and to the Ottoman period (17th-19th c.).
There are some large building complexes which are occupying a dominant position in the urban tissue, among which predominate, thanks to their height, the big tower in the northwestern part of the village and the small one in the northeastern part.
The majority of the buildings have two storeys and only a few, mostly those of the 19th and early 20th century, have only one floor. Because of their continuous use through the ages, many of them have extra floor plans. Their main characteristic is that their construction was very well taken care, so that it is comparable to the urban buildings of Rethymno city. All of them are made of rubble and are coated, while their openings and sometimes the corners are made of carved stonework. The larger building complexes are developed around a small or large yard which is protected by a high wall and usually has an arched entrance opening. Within a walking distance or in contact with the main building is the necessary cistern for the collection of rainwater from the rooftops, through clay pipes. One large part of the built space is occupied by the olive presses, at least 10, which either are distributed throughout the village and are part of larger residential units which had the residence on the upper floor, or are autonomous storey buildings. Most of them belong to the Venetian period with pointed and semicircular arches and others to the 18th and 19th century.
The great tower of Maroylas, one of the two towers of the village, belongs to the towers of residential use with a clear defensive character. Its external dimensions are 11.20m x 5.60m and its overall height is 14.20m which makes it the largest of the towers of Rethymno and one of the largest in Crete. The roof is made up of a high hoopholes. In the NE and SW corners are two circular watchtowers, sticking out of the stonework and standing on the roof level with corbels. On the South wall from the outside, lies the “katachystra” or scalding bowl, which is a perforated, on the upper and the lower side, rectangular construction with a purely defensive character. From the upper opening of the bowl they threw hot oil, stones or tar towards the enemies, who were trying to enter the tower, and for this reason the bowl was always located above entrances.