Kazantzakis tomb in Heraklion

The Tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis in Heraklion Crete: Outside the walls of Heraklion, in the tower of Martinengo lies the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis, the famous Greek writer whose books have been translated in many foreign languages. Nikos Kazantzakis was born in Heraklion in 1883 and in 1911 he left for the United States. Throughout his life, he received many critics, particularly from the Church, for the messages of his books.

Tortured by metaphysical and existential issues from his early youth, Kazantzakis was trying to explain the notion of God and Human. He even entered a monastery for six months when he was young. Greatly inspired by the work of Friedrich Nietzche on atheism, Nikos Kazantzakis developed his own ideas on the existence and conception of God.

These ideas, as presented in his books, bothered a lot the Church, whose authority was more cautious that time. When the Last Temptation of Christ was published in 1951, the Roman Catholic Church included it in the Index of Prohibited Books and didn't allow its translation to foreign languages. That particular book was presenting Jesus Christ as a tragic figure that had been fighting all his life between the duty and mission on one side and the human desire to live a normal life on the other side, to love and be loved, to have a family and enjoy life.

As an aftermath, the Greek Orthodox Church excommunicated Kazantzakis in 1955. The reply of Kazantzakis was prompt but clear: You gave me a curse, Holy fathers, I give you a blessing: may your conscience be as clear as mine and may you be as moral and religious as I.

As the Church had excommunicated the writer, he was not allowed to be buried in a cemetery when he died in 1957 out of leukemia. That is why Nikos Kazantzakis was buried, according to his will, outside the walls of his hometown. The tomb is plain and surprisingly it has a wooden cross. Upon the tombstone, there is the phrase: I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.

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