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Home / Impressions / Great Cretan Personalities / Eleftherios Venizelos
Eleftherios Venizelos

The airport of Athens, streets and squares; they all bear the name of Elefthérios Venizélos, the charismatic Cretan politician, who dedicated his life to guiding his country through its most critical per*iod of contemporary history.

He was born in 1864 during Ottoman rule in Mourniés, near Hania. After his graduation from the Law Faculty of the University of Athens, he worked as a lawyer in Hania for a while but soon entered politics as a member of the liberal party of the island.

His political qualities and visions were revealed during the revolution of 1897 and the following years of Autonomous Crete (1898 – 1912), when he played a crucial part in the struggle for Crete's unification with mainland Greece. In 1910 he moved to Athens, where he founded the Liberal Party (Kómma Philelefthéron) and became prime minister of the country.

It was here that he saw his island’s dream of unification with Greece realized in 1913; a process in which he played an active role, always balancing skillfully on a thin line between daringly diplomatic and charmingly moderate. He was actively involved in the political and economic progress of his country, doubling Greece’s territories either by war or by diplomacy, clashing more than once with prevailing opinions.

He was repeatedly elected prime minister of Greece and throughout his life he became the target of 11 (!) assassination attempts. After his last term of office as prime-minister he went into self-exile in Paris, where he died in 1936. He is buried at Akrotíri, just east of Hania.