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Kallikratis (Greek: Καλλικράτης) is a small village in Sfakia municipality, southwest Crete, Greece. According to tradition, it was named after the admiral (droungarios) Manoussos Kallikratis, who in March 1453 led a campaign to reinforce the defense of Constantinople with 5 ships and 1500 Cretan volunteers.[1][2] As reported by Sphrantzes in his Chronicle, these volunteers manned three towers on the walls of Constantinople and continued to fight bravely even after the city had fallen. In recognition of their gallantry, sultan Mehmed allowed them to safely sail back to Crete, retaining their weapons.


The road from Kapsodasos to Kallikratis.

Kallikratis is situated off the beaten tourist path and is made up of four widely separated neighborhoods that are scattered on a small plateau in Lefka Ori with an average altitude of 540m. It can be reached via Myriokefala, Asi Gonia or Asfendos, or via a recently paved road with more than 25 tight hair-pin turns, which starts in Kapsodasos and offers stunning views of the Frangokastello plain and the Libyan Sea in the distance.[3] Kallikratis is also on the E4 walking route. Kallikratiano (i.e. Kallikratis') gorge starts southwest of the village and ends in the village of Patsianos, maintaining important natural habitats.[4] The gorge can be crossed on a 4 km path. Before 1900, Kallikratis was a large village with more than 130 families. Today, only a few tens of inhabitants still live in the village and many of the houses are deserted. Kallikratis is uninhabited during the colder months of the year, since in that time the local shepherds move with their herds in transhumance to the warmer climate of the villages near the shore.


The bell tower of the double-nave church of Panagia, built ca. 1890.

Kallikratis never lived under permanent foreign rule and its residents have a long tradition of participation in fights for freedom.

Wars against the Ottoman Turks[edit]

In 1770, Kallikratis was destroyed during Daskalogiannis' revolt against the Ottoman Empire. In 1821, a group of Sfakians led by Kallikratis native Georgios Demonakis (Greek: Γεώργιος Δαιμονάκης) fought with Alexander Ypsilantis after his crossing of the Prut river to start a revolt in Romania. In July 1821, during the revolt of 1821, part of Kallikratis was burnt while many of its residents were away fighting the Turks near Rethymno. In 1867, during the great Cretan revolt, Ottoman forces under the command of Omar Pasha unsuccessfully attempted to invade Sfakia from Kallikratis.

Macedonian struggle[edit]

At the beginning of the twentieth century, several villagers voluntarily took part in the struggle for Macedonia between 1904-1908 under the leadership of Efthimios Kaoudis[5][6]

World War II[edit]

During the first months of the Axis occupation of Crete, the resistance organization AEAK was headquartered at the house of Colonel Andreas Papadakis in Vourvoures, a location between Kallikratis and Asi Gonia. Later on, the resistance operated a radio station hidden in the Anemospilios cave which is located near the Lampronas plain between Kallikratis and Asfendos. In his book The Cretan Runner, George Psychoundakis reports to have stayed in that cave during the spring of 1942 and to have been fed by Kallikratians.[7]

Monument of the 1943 executions.

1943 executions[edit]

In 1943, after the destruction of the Viannos villages, the partisan group of Manolis Bandouvas fled westwards, being chased by the Germans. Their intention was to reach the beach of Rodakino, from where British SOE agents planned to evacuate Bandouvas to Egypt. In early October 1943, Bandouvas group was hiding in the area of Mt. Tsilivdikas (Greek: Τσιλίβδικας), located on the southern outskirts of Lefka Ori. There, they had been reinforced by two partisan groups from Kallikratis, led by Nikos Manouselis (Greek: Νίκος Μανουσέλης) and Andreas Manouselis (Greek: Ανδρεας Μανουσέλης). On October 4, 1943 the partisans clashed with and eliminated a German detachment near their hideout.

In reprisal for the locals' assistance to Bandouvas and their participation to the resistance, the German commander of Crete Bruno Bräuer, ordered the destruction of the villages of Kali Sykia and Kallikratis. Thus, on 6 October, 1943 twelve women were burned alive in Kali Sykia. Soon after, on October 8, 1943 strong Wehrmacht forces surrounded Kallikratis after invading the plateau from different directions. The Germans were accompanied by the Jagdkommando Schubert, a paramilitary unit under the command of Sdf. Fritz Schubert which was intended to crush Cretan resistance by terrorizing civilians.[8] Kallikratis' inhabitants were dragged from their homes and herded to the church, threatened with death upon disobedience. Some men were shot outside their homes under the eyes of their families, after refusing to comply with orders. Around 30 civilians were executed in total, some shot sporadically and most of them in an abandoned house in the northern neighborhood of Pipilida (Greek: Πιπιλίδα).[9][10] Nevertheless, several men who had slept outside in the mountains surrounding the village as a precaution, managed to remain safe.

According to Fielding, [11] during the operation the plateau was surrounded by machine guns which directed a heavy crossfire above head level, discouraging any escape attempts. Women and children were detained and later expelled from the village, whose houses were looted and then set ablaze.[12] About twenty women were transferred to Agia prison near Chania, where they remained imprisoned for a month before being released.


The family of Kostas Mountakis, one of the most celebrated Cretan music artists, originated from Kallikratis. On Sep. 5th 2008, a Cretan music night dedicated to his memory was held in Kallikratis.
During summer, a couple of coffee shops and tavernas serving local specialties are open in the area.


  1. ^ Από τις παραλειπόμενες άγνωστες επετειακές σελίδες Κρήτης - Κωνσταντινούπολης, Πατρίς onLine, 29 Μαΐου 2006; archived here
  2. ^ Οι Κρήτες υπερασπιστές της Κωνσταντινούπολης Πατρίς onLine, 18 Ιουλίου 2011; archived here
  3. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huAK5_w9MAo
  4. ^ FILOTIS - database for the natural environment of Greece
  5. ^ Γυπαράκης, Ανδρέας. Κρήτες Μακεδονομάχοι 1903-1908, Αθήνα 1976.
  6. ^ Μάντακας, Γιάννης. Μακεδονικός Αγώνας 1903-1908, Χανιά 2005.
  7. ^ Psychoundakis, George. The Cretan Runner: His Story of the German Occupation, John Murray, 1955, Penguin Books, 1998.
  8. ^ Φωτίου, Θανάσης. Η Ναζιστική Τρομοκρατία στην Ελλάδα – Η αιματηρή πορεία του Φριτς Σούμπερτ και του ελληνικού "σώματος κυνηγών" στην κατοχική Κρήτη και Μακεδονία, εκδόσεις Επίκεντρο, Θεσσαλονίκη 2011, σελ. 175.
  9. ^ Καλογεράκης, Γιώργος. Μνήμη των Καλλικρατιανών, θυμάτων των ναζί, Τα Σφακιά, τριμηνιαία έκδοση της Ένωσης των Απανταχού Σφακιανών, φύλλα 154, 155.
  10. ^ Beevor, Antony. Crete: The Battle and the Resistance, John Murray Ltd, 1991. Penguin Books, 1992.
  11. ^ Fielding, Xan. Hide and Seek: The Story of a War-Time Agent, Paul Dry Books, 2013. ISBN 1589880846.
  12. ^ Γερωνυμάκης, Κανάκης: Το ολοκαύτωμα του Καλλικράτη το 1943, Χανιώτικα Νέα, 13 Οκτωβρίου 2014., archived here

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°14′32″N 24°15′27″E / 35.24222°N 24.25750°E / 35.24222; 24.25750