Eleftherios Venizelos

Eleftherios Venizelos from Chania, on Crete: Eleftherios Venizelos was one of the greatest statesmen of Greece. He was born in Chania in 1864 and he played a significant role in the creation of the Greek republic by way of taking part in the official talks with the Ottomans that finally culminated in Crete being granted independence in the year 1897 and thereafter its final amalgamation with Greece in the year 1913. There is a statue of the great man at Akrotiri upon a hill from where one can not only view the statue but also the breathtaking view of the city of Chania.

He studied law in Athens and later on became the chief of the Liberal Party in Crete. In the year 1896, he played a pivotal role in the Cretan revolution against the Turkish rule and in the year 1905 Venizelos became the island's first sovereign prime minister. In the year 1910 Venizelos was catapulted to the position of the Prime Minister of Greece with the support of the Balkan League. With his strong support base, he was able to defeat the Turks and the Bulgarians and even amassed territories from them.

During the First World War Venizelos made a strategic alliance with the British, French and Russians who sided with him in their fight against the Central Powers. From the outset Venizelos wanted Greece to offer military assistance to the Allies, but his request was nullified by King Constantine I, which resulted in Venizelos relinquishing his position of Prime minister. Venizelos was once again re-elected after a massive victory in March 1915 and thereafter took to the task of mobilizing the Greek Army.

When Venizelos requested the allied forces to come to Salonkia he was summarily sacked by the king. Finding no other way, Venizelos returned back to Chania, Crete where he formed an interim revolutionary government. He garnered the support of the Allied forces and chalked out a strategy to march to Athens. King Constantine, I was overthrown in June 1917 and Venizelos task of reclaiming power was possible without using force.

Regardless of his accomplishments, Venizelos was whitewashed in the 1920 General Election. The new government which had a distinct tilt towards royalty, in course of time invited King Constantine I to take over his reign.

Venizelos thus was elected as the Prime minister again in 1924, 1928-32 as well as 1933. However, in 1935 Venizelos once again played a pivotal role to propel another revolution in Crete. Somehow the revolution failed miserably and he took refuge in France, where he passed away in the year 1936. On a hill in Akrotiri overlooking Chania Town, there are the Tombs of Eleftherios Venizelos and his son Sofoklis Venizelos.