Heraklion Kazantzakis tomb

Location: Town

On the southwestern corner of Heraklion’s old Venetian city walls, high up on the Martinengo Bastion, one can visit the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis, the monumental Greek novelist whose books have been translated into several languages.

Nikos Kazantzakis was born in Heraklion in 1883 before spending his life traveling from England to Egypt, Palestine, the Soviet Union, Japan, and everywhere in between. Throughout his life, he received many critics particularly from the Church and the political right-wing, due to the messages in his books.

Kazantzakis died in 1957, after a battle with leukemia. Due to his excommunication by the Greek Orthodox Church in 1955, he was not allowed to be buried in a cemetery. Nikos Kazantzakis was therefore laid to rest on top of the city walls of his hometown. Situated in the center of a grassy park surrounded by bushes and palm trees, there is a small pavement.

On this pavement lies the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis, as plain as can be, with a wooden cross instead of a more traditional marble adornment. One of Kazantzakis’ most recognizable quotes is inscribed on the tombstone: I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.

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About Nikos Kazantzakis

Tortured by metaphysical and existential issues from his early youth, Kazantzakis spent his life trying to understand the relationship between the profane and the divine. Having briefly joined a monastery in his youth, he found himself greatly inspired by the works of Friedrich Nietzche on atheism, developing his own ideas on the conception of God.

These ideas, which feature prominently in his books, were highly controversial at a time when Greek society was considerably more conservative. At the peak of this controversy, the Holy Synod attempted to have Captain Michalis, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Christ Recrucified, banned from public circulation. The Last Temptation was even included in the Roman Catholic Church’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum, as it presents Christ as split between his divine mission to redeem humanity and his human desire to live a normal life, in offense of mainstream Christian conceptions of him as an untempted, pure person.




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