the ancient period the Minoan civilization thrived on the island of Crete
many centuries before the rest of the Greeks were able to lay the foundations
of the modern west type societies. The tomb on the hill about two kilometers
west of the villa will remind you of that period .
Later when Jesus preached the new values, the Romans had already been
on the island. You may see some of their remains in the city of Chania.
In that period the Cretans became Christians. During a later period they
were reporting to the Pope.
In the following centuries the capital of the Roman Empire was moved to
the east when Constantinople (later Instanbul ) was founded (330 A.D.)
on top of a Greek city called Byzantium. Rome declined. The eastern Roman
Empire, the longest running empire in human history, was based on Greek
and Christian ideas. That new empire later called Byzantine embraced Crete
in 961. May I add that before that year the Arabs too had ruled the island
for more than a century.
In the Byzantine period (961-1252) the population in the island increased
(it was in that period that probably our family moved onto Crete).
The administration system was improved and construction of walls and fortification
took place in Chania.
the course of the 4th crusade Crete was sold to a marquis called Monfera
who in turn sold it to the Venetians (1204) While the new owners were
trying to gain control over the island, the Maltese with the rulers of
Genoa tried in vain to get hold of the island too. Finally 50 years later
the Venetians curving the local resistance took the administration of
They divided the area and nominated (castelani) colonists from Venice
The hearts and minds of the local population were however tuned to their
old capital Constantinople, not to Venice. In 1453 the Ottoman Muslims
invaded Constantinople turned it into Istanbul and deprived the Cretans
from their center. Rebellions became less frequent. However the local
church kept its links with the center since the Orthodox church has maintained
its Patriarchal (head) in Istanbul after the invasion of the Turks to
The period that followed brought the two communities in Crete closer together
because the Ottomans posed a threat to both of them. During that period
Saint Peter and Paul was built (1530), the small church about 200 meters
southeast of the villa . Generally economic activity, construction and
culture was enhanced in those years.
Finally in 1645 the Ottomans disembarked on the beach of Kolimbari village,
7 kilometers west of the villa. One of their shot-balls is still dug in
the east wall of the monastery there. You may visit it. The Monastery
however has no monks nowadays. Also the view is interesting from there.
Nearby there is an international Orthodox academy .
The new invaders on their way to Chania by sea and by land met the guard
of Theodorou island, the huge rock in the sea that you can see from the
villa to your east. Commander Biagio Zulian decided to set fire to the
ammunition. All 70 guards died along with 200 Turkish soldiers. Unfortunately
you cannot visit the island. Only Kri-Kri the endangered wild goat live
The siege of Chania lasted two months. The Venetian property became Turkish
and the Catholic churches became Mosques. All fertile land was rendered
to Muslim chiefs. It is interesting to note that Gramvousa island remained
free and refuge for the Cretans till 1692. You may set foot on it if you
take a small boat from Kissamos (Some 20 kilometers west of the villa).
During the Turkish occupation my ancestors lived on the mountains in a
village called Laki, the last village on your way to the famous Samaria
gorge. They would visit Gramvousa peninsula in the winter to feed their
cattle. Almost half of it belonged to them. It still does, only now there
are so many to inherit and the process is impossibly complicated. If you
decide to swim at Ballos beach, to the west end of the island, probably
one of the best deserted beaches you can find, you'll drive through that
shepherd land. The road is rough after Kaliviani village. You will also
have to abandon the car at the end of the road and walk for half an hour
to get to the beach.
In the year 1821 the Greek national revolution against the Ottomans led
to the creation of the modern independent Greek state on the mainland.
The population of the inland exerted pressure on the conquerors and limited
them mainly within cities. The administration of the inland was transferred
to the Egyptian ruler Mehmet Ali until 1841. In that period ,among others
,the lighthouse at the port of Chania was built on Venetian foundations.
In 1832 my Great-Grand Father Nicholas (born around 1790 along with his
sons Michalis born around 1815 ,Yianis, Manolis and Georgis and the rest
of his family) settled on the fertile land of Maleme leaving behind the
rugged life in the mountains. The Ottomans were willing to sell then.
Soon after two other families moved in the area ,from Laki,and Maleme
village was created .
In 1841 the rule in the island was again returned to the Turks. Michalis
who married then brought to life ,Mamolis ,Yiannis and Nicholas born around
1845,who in turn brought to life Michalis, Manolis and Stefanos born in
1873, my grant father. In 1878 a new treaty was signed at Chania to secure
more rights in favor of the local population.
In 1898 Crete became independent. Chania was the capital. A period of
modernization and prosperity, which also unfortunately led to the demolition
of buildings of the old era ,started .The three brothers built their new
houses in Maleme in that period.
In 1913 Crete joined Greece. Also Saint Antonio's church was founded in
the center of the village in 1918. Its tower bells are in your view from
the villa's yard.
In 1940 my father was sent, as a soldier, to the north of the country
to confront the Italians who intended unsuccessfully to occupy Greece.
In 1941 the Germans came to finish the job the Italians could not do.
He managed to come all the way from the Albanian front to Athens to embark
on a vessel bound for Crete which, half way, outside the island of Milos,
was sunk by the German airplanes. Local fishermen transferred the survivors
to Chania. The rest of his journey to Maleme was on a British Royal Army
jeep. On his arrival he found no one at home. He went to stay to his sister's
house at Kondomari village, two kilometers to the south of Maleme, where
the rest of the family found protection.
A few days later the Germans, having landed at Maleme airport on top of
hundreds of wrecked airplanes ,surrounded that village and put all men
in front of the firing squad (click
here to see photos). All but five were killed. He survived thanks
to his uncle Manolis. The family spent four years away from home in the
Because of the airport, Maleme was too dangerous a place to live in the
area not to mention that their house was looted with a roof full of holes.
In 1945 the Germans left. The city of Chania had lost most of its historic
buildings that took centuries of human effort to erect. Nevertheless it
remained one of the most beautiful towns in this part of the world .
In the years that followed political turbulence and turmoil was the norm
in the country. It was not before 1974 that the country could enter a
normal political life.