Important People behind the Statues of Heraklion, Crete [Biography of Stefanos Xanthoudidis]

Stefanos Antoniou Xanthoudidis (1864 – 1928)


You walk through your city. You may notice people, buildings, street art, but how often do you notice sculptures? Statues next to which you might go by on an almost daily basis? Together with my About Heraklion project, I wish to publish information about sculptures that are located in Heraklion City.

The Who & the Why. **Who** do these sculptures depict and **Why** were works of art made in their honor? 

The sculpture that I noticed last Monday Morning in Heraklion is the one representing Stefanos Xanthoudidis. 

He is standing right opposite Heraklion Archaeological Museum, looking at it and as you might have guessed, the street that the museum is located is named after him too. (Xanthoudidou Street) 

Who was Stefanos Xanthoudidis?

Stefanos Xanthoudidis was born in Avdou Village in 1864 and was a Greek archaeologist and medievalist (historian studying medieval issues)

Xanthoudidis’ father was the painter Antonios Xanthoudidis (1819 – 1896) an artist who believed in the power of education. Despite the difficult times they are undergoing, he manages to send all this 5 sons to Heraklion and from there to Athens for studying. During that time there was no other family with so many educated children.


Image of Antonios Xanthoudidis painted by I. Diamantakis source

The studies and work of Stefanos Xanthoudidis

Stefanos Xanthoudidis finishes his studies in The Hellenic School of Heraklion and then he moves to Athens to study Philosophy. During his Athens studies, he discovers the magic of scientific research and after receiving his Literature Degree at 1888, he returns to Crete where is becomes a teacher.

Heraklion Mayor Mr Minas Georgiadis mentions “Children who have been taught by this teacher, gratefully remember his wise tutorship, along with this unique, deep voice. Always with strict but smooth presence and an unparallel, methodic way of teaching”

He has worked for many years as a curator of antiquities and later on he was the director of the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.

Archaeological Work of S. Xanthoudidis

Xanthoudidis has done excavations and has written numerous essays about them. His study ‘Christian inscriptions of Crete’ (1903) was used as the base of Corpus that was included in the very thorough book about Venetian Monuments in Crete by G. Gerola. Xanthoudidis’ contribution is so important that it is characterized as equal collaboration.
The study of Vaulted Tombs of Messara about his excavations from 1914 – 1918 is considered to be the best of his archaeological work. It was translated in English by J. Droop and published in 1924 by Liverpool University, prologued by Sir Arthur Evans.


The Vaulted Tombs of Mesara’ – Source

Historical Work of S. Xanthoudidis

Xanthoudidis’ historical work is very important, having published a variety of essays such as “« Κρητικά συμβόλαια εκ της Ενετοκρατίας» (1912)”
Perhaps his most important historical work titled “Η Ενετοκρατία εν Κρήτη και οι κατά των Ενετών αγώνες των Κρητών”, was awarded by Athens University in 1925, was published in 1939 with the assistance of prof. I. Kalitsounakiss “



Laografic Work

Xanthoudidis has worked in a very thorough way in a variety of laographic themes, many of which remain unpublished to this day. He has presented an essay as an interpretation of Cretan last names (1923) and has written a number of papers regarding the Cretan Language.

Literature Work

The literature work of Xanthoudidis is of great importance, resulting to international recognition of this great man. He has published the comedy of Marco Foskolo ‘Fortunato’, the ‘Fallido’ (1922), which is a Cretan verse of the 16th century and among other remarkable works … in February 1915, “Erotokritos” (a romance composed by Vintsenzos Kornaros in the 17th century, consisting of 10.012 rhymed verses) is published by Xanthoudidis!

The “Nea Efimeris” Heraklion Newspaper is writing as a title at the 28.02. 1915 “A Big Event” … “In our days, the greatest literature event since Medieval times is taking place here in Crete, in Heraklion…”


6 whole years Xanthoulidis is researching and writing the Erotokritos, including not only text, but the necessary glossary scientifically explained, grammar and required information regarding the poet, the time and place, based on  precedent and current researches.


It was morning time of September 18th 1928, when Xanthoudidis as he is walking in front of Astoria Cinema, on his way to the Archaeological Museum is found dead. Aged 67 years old, he died of cardiac arrest.


He has a very dear person in the Cretan society and even after his death, his values are evident. In his handwritten will (published in newspaper “Anorthosis” 28.9.1928), among others, dictates his nephew “Androklis Xanthoudidis” to give all his books (800 volumes) to the Heraklion Museum. The duplicate ones are to be given to Vikelaia Library of Heraklion and his 15 note books with glossological studies to be given in the Historical Dictionary archive in Athens. A number of monetary amounts are to be left to his village ‘Avdou’ (to be used for the school), to the “Pananion Hospital” and to more institutions of Heraklion.


Xanthoudidis was the first Cretan who in a scientific way starting researching about Crete, with remarkable results. He has been characterized as the ‘First scientist Cretologist, the Nestor of Cretan Studies’
He actively fought about protecting the Loggia and other monuments. It is worth to mention just a few of his accomplishments.

  • In 1911 he has voluntarily archived all the books of the Vikelaia Library of Heraklion.
  • In 1924 he prevents Saint Titus temple from becoming an English Telegraph Office and manages to turn it back to the state, in order for the building to operate as an orthodox temple.
    It is worth to mention that the renowned professor Theoharis Detorakis has published a biography in 2002, including 44 precious documents from Xanthoudidis’ files and a catalogue of 235 publications.

source wikipedia in Greek
Source – – excerpt from Patris Newspaper written by philologist Mr Zacharis Smyrnakis
Source: Heraklion sculptures
Source: Wikipedia – Erotokritos
photo photo


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Original source