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One of the most iconic images associated with Greece is that of Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates dancing on the beach to the unforgettable music of Mikis Theodorakis, in the film Zorba the Greek.

 

You may also be familiar with the controversy surrounding the Martin Scorsese film The Last Temptation of Christ – but it may come as a surprise to learn that both screenplays were based on books by the same author, Nikos Kazantzakis.

You will surely not be disappointed by a visit to the museum celebrating the Cretan writer’s life, work and extensive travel, which included journalism, poetry, plays, Greek ministerial appointments, the International Peace Award and nine nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The museum is on the central square of the pretty hill village of Myrtia (Varvaroi), where Kazantzakis’ father was born, with narrow, flower-bedecked streets, Byzantine churches and several mural tributes to the author. It is 15 kilometres south of Heraklion – about a 30-minute drive. There is an irregular bus service from Heraklion port.

It is open daily from April to October, except public holidays, but from November to March has shorter opening hours and is closed on Saturdays.

There are pensioner and student discounts on the entrance fee of around five euros, with free entry for the disabled and children under 15 accompanied by a parent.

A two-and-a-half hour audio guide can be hired, while guided, 50-minute tours, plus a 20-minute audio-visual presentation, are available only to groups of 10 or more, and must be booked in advance. The museum has a cafe and souvenir shop. 

The thousands of exhibits include manuscripts, letters, photos and personal items, theatre material, rare audio-visual content, and artworks depicting the writer, while the museum also hosts special events, one of the most recent being an arts festival centred on Chinese culture.