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Kriti Trivia
Did you know...?

Cretan Connections & Famous People

El Greco Self Portrait

Did you know that 'El Greco' the painter was actually from Crete?

Yes, he was born in the village of Fodele in Heraklion as Domenikos Theotokopoulos in 1541. He travelled and painted all over Europe and became known as 'El Greco'.

You can visit a museum dedicated to his life in Fodele village.

Kazanztakis 1

Nikos Kazantzakis - poet, novelist, essayist and playwright is one of Greece’s most famous writers.

See more on this page about Famous Cretans

You can visit a museum dedicated to the artist in the village of Myrtia.

Zorba the Greek

Zorba the Greek Book Cover
Zorba the Greek Movie Poster
Anthony Quinn, from Zorba the Greek
Contessa Hotel, Chania

Did you know that Zorbá the Greek was really Cretan? Well, the novel Βίος και Πολιτεία του Αλέξη Ζορμπά was written in 1946 by Crete’s beloved author Níkos Kazantzákis.

The film from 1964 was shot on location in Crete. Remember to put the stress on the last letter of Zorbá. It sounds better that way, don’t you think!

The wild, enigmatic and lovable Zorbá played by Anthony Quinn comes very close to showing the heart of the Cretan character.

The dance of Zorba was filmed on Stavros Beach in Crete.

Did you know that scenes from Zorba the Greek were filmed in Crete?

The Contessa Hotel in Chania is the same hotel that appeared in the movie. The character Zorba emerges from the hotel delirious after a night of wild partying with the local lady of the night. This hotel still stands today and is run by Giorgos, who appeared in the film as an eight year old, and remembers the film shoot and all its excitement back in the early 60's.

The Guns of Navarone

Gregory Peck

Did you know that Anthony Quinn had played a Greek resistance fighter in the Guns of Navarone 1961, alongside Gregory Peck. Just remember that the movie Guns of Navarone was not shot in Crete, it was shot on location in Rhodes (and it’s a nice excuse to put Gregory Peck’s photo here anyway).

More Kriti trivia; Anthony Quinn is not Greek, although he plays it so well, he has Mexican-Irish heritage.

Irini Papas
Guns of Navarone - Movie Poster

Featuring in Guns of Navarone was Greek actress Irini Papas.

Irini Papas also starred in Zorba the Greek, which was filmed in Chania town and the Akrotiri peninsular, as well as the village of Stavros. The film won three Academy Awards, although Anthony Quinn did not win best actor, he was nominated for it. Irini Papas is not Cretan, she is a talented and beloved Greek actress born near Corinth.

Kriti Trivia - Jennifer Aniston

Do you have some Kriti trivia to share with us?

Did you know that Jennifer Aniston has Cretan heritage?

Well, her father's real name is Anastasakis. So if you know a little about Greek names, you will know that the end of the name is a real give-away as to where that person comes from. So generally Cretan names end in –akis.

Yes, Jennifer does have Cretan heritage. Ioannis Anastasakis, her father, was born in Chania in 1933 and left for America with his family in 1935. He is best known for his portrayal of the bad guy Victor Kiriakis on the TV soap opera 'Days of Our Lives'. Jen did live in Greece for a year when she was five or six years old, and spent some time in Crete. If she does return, let's hope she will find some peace and quiet away from the paparazzi. Thanks for all the laughs, Jen.

Here is a video of Jen's Dad talking about his family and Greek heritage.

Kriti Trivia

Want more Kriti trivia? Míkis Theodorákis Μίκης Θεοδωράκης wrote the music for the film Zorba the Greek. Theodorákis is a very well know Greek musician and composer, whose father was Cretan. Míkis was actually born on the island of Chios. See our other page about this important voice for Greek resistance. See interviews and the story of his life in the documentary below.

Who Pays the Ferryman TV Mini Series by BBC

Did you know that BBC filmed a TV series called Who Pays the Ferryman? in Elounda in eastern Crete in 1977. The music was by Giannis Markopoulous.

It follows the story of an embittered Britisher who decides to finally return to Crete, where he fought heroically during the Second World War and where he met and loved a local girl whom he has never forgotten, but who never answered the letters he wrote to her when he returned to the UK. 

Nana Mouskouri album cover

Did you know that Nana Mouskouri was born in Crete? Yes it is true, one of the most prolific and adored Greek music artists, Nana Mouskouri was born Ioanna Mouskouri in Chania in 1934 and left for Athens with her family when she was three.

Two Faces of January Movie Poster

Did you know that the movie 'Two Faces of January' (2014) was partly set in Crete? This film was based on the book of the same name by Patricia Highsmith.

Book Cover The Island by Victoria Hislop

Did you know that the novel 'The Island' by Victoria Hislop was set in Crete?

To Nisi TV Series

This 2005 book gave rise to a Greek TV drama also simply called 'The Island' or 'To Nisi' directed by Theo Papadoulakis, drawing on the rich history of Crete.

This series was filmed on location on Crete in Elounda Bay, Spinalonga, Plaka and Agios Nikolaos in 2009-10 under director of photography Vaggelis Katrizidakis.

Below is the trailer for the TV series - 'To Nisi' - 'The Island'

One August Night by Victoria Hislop

'One August Night' is a sequel to 'The Island' written by Victoria Hislop and published in 2021. It is set in Crete.

Theo Papadoulakis also directed this video about the island of Crete - 'All the World on One Island - Crete'

Theo Papadoulakis
also directed this spot - 'European Athletics Team Championships 1st League 2015'.

Kazantzakis movie poster

Did you know that director Yannis Smaragdis is from Crete? he has directed many internationally acclaimed films such as 'Kavafis' and 'El Greco'.

He directed 'Kazantzakis' released in 2017, on the life of beloved Cretan writer Nikos Kazantzakis.

Getting Here

Take a 1 hour flight from Athens to Heraklion with Aegean Airlines or Olympic Air, with many flights available per day.

Or take a 9.5 hour overnight ferry from Pireaus port of Athens to Heraklion port.

More on flights and ferries below.

Car hire in Crete is a really good idea as it is a large island 60 km by 260 km. There is so much to explore.

When you book with our car rental partners - Rental Centre Crete - you are supporting a local company with excellent service and easy online booking. We are sure you will be well looked after by the team. Choose from hybrid, electric or regular vehicles.

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We trust you have enjoyed these tips from the We Love Crete team. Evíva!

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