The Cretan Renaissance

In the first years of Venetian rule, life in Herakleion created conditions that fostered a significant cultural growth that persisted and strengthened a little before the fall of Constantinople.

Many scholars in Byzantium, foreseeing the danger of a Turkish conquest, left for European cities (mostly in Italy). In Crete, they favoured Herakleion: their influx boosted the city’s cultural development in all areas.

Cretan literature and arts. The Cretan Renaissance

The great spiritual and educational force behind this was the Monastery of Aghia Katerina of Sinai. Large numbers of the young citizens of Herakleion also travelled to Venice and other Italian cities to study: gradually the town of Herakleion absorbed the influences of the early Renaissance. There arose an important, and quite independent, local intellectual and cultural tradition – particularly so for painters, poets and dramatists.

This Cretan intellectual creation is particularly visible in the later part of Venetian rule (1594-1669).

The Cretan School of Iconography

Cretan literature and arts. The Cretan School of IconographyAfter the capture of Constantinople, Crete became one of the most important artistic centres under Venetian control. Around 1600 AD, in the city of Herakleion alone, there were 20,000 inhabitants, of whom 200 were native painters, whose reputation spread far beyond the city limits and the island’s shores.Read More about the Cretan School of Iconography


Cretan literature and arts. ErotokritosThe famous lyric poem of Vincenzo Konaros is one of the most valuable monuments in the modern Greek language, Written between 1640-1660, it was became one of the most important educational works in the Cretan folk culture.Read More about Erotokritos

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