Martinengo Bastion in Heraklion: the resting place of the famous, forever free man, Nikos Kazantzakis

Nikos Kazantzakis remains in history as one of the most famous Greek writers, and is mostly known for his book Zorba the Greek, filmed in 1964 with Anthony Quinn as the staring actor.

Nikos Kazantzakis was born in 1883 in Heraklion (at that time referred to as Candia), while the island was still under the Ottoman Occupation.

Kazantzakis studied law in Athens and his philosophical studies took place in Sorbonne, France.

Writer of the controversial books ‘The Last Temptation”, “Captain Michalis” and “Chris re-crucified”, he came very close to being excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox Church. As a matter of fact, it was asked by the Greek State to forbid the distribution of his books.

Kazantzakis got sick with leukemia and on October 26th, 1957 he passed away in Germany.

On November the 5th he was exposed to the cathedral of Saing Minas and on November 6th he was carried to his resting place, on the Venetian Walls, as it was not permitted for him to be buried in the town’s cemetery.

The famous epitaph that Kazantzakis himself ordered states “I hope for nothing, I fear for nothing I am free”


His life has become a movie directed by the award-winning Iannis Smaragdis.
The movie presents Kazantzakis’ fascinating personality, his travel and how his life was defined by his travel and his dreams.

Tip: The movie is coming in Greek Theaters in November 23rd


image courtesy of

At a Glance

  • The Martinengo Bastion (where the Tomb of Kazantzakis is located) is one of the six bastions of the still preserved Venetian Walls surrounding Heraklion City.
  • Etched on stone, one of the most famous Greek phrases, ordered by himself prior to his death “I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free”
  • (Δεν ελπίζω τίποτα. Δε φοβάμαι τίποτα. Είμαι λέφτερος)

Image by IG natplat21

  • The visitors can enjoy a calm, peaceful place and see the whole Heraklion town from above.
  • Saint Minas Cathedral stands out from the city center side, and turning around you can see the Youchtas Mountain (face of Zeus as per legends)
  • Nice to pay tribute to the author after a visit to the historical museum of Crete, where Kazantzakis personal belongings are located.
  • The museum of Nikos Kazantzakis is located in Myrtia, appx 16 kilometers away from Heraklion city.
  • Heraklion’s International Airport is named after Nikos Kazantzakis
  • Nikos Kazantzakis was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in nine different years, but was never awarded.
  • In Vienna, the 28th of June 1956, Kazantzakis was awarded the International Peace Award.

Read more about his life:

Find the Grave Monument of Nikos Kazantzakis (Tafos Kazantzaki) on Google Map

Read what the visitors had to say about their experience: (Source: TripAdvisor)

By seolram, Leiden, the Netherlands

Especially nice after a visit to the history museum

A lovely walk, and even more so since we pickked up the brochure on walls and gates of Iraklion, with a lot of explaination and fun facts. Also visiting the jistory museum helped a lot in understanding what we saw. There was a special exhibition on Nikos Kazantzakis, which made the walk up to his tomb wirth while! Also: nice views onf the city

By Lbp121, Luton, United Kingdom
Not a must

It is interesting, it is fairly easy to find but not really a great place to visit. The tomb is on top of the old bastion on city walls but it overlooks a horrible new ‘cultural centre’ and there is much graffitti in the area.
Glad we saw it but wouldn’t go again.

By a e, Chertsey, United Kingdom

Amazing to visit the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis, the author of Zorba the Greek. Outside the city walls and a bit of a trek from the centre of the city but well worth it. Great views of the city from here.

By smrgeog, Vancouver Canada
A peaceful location

Because he was excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox church, Nikos Kazantzakis was buried in the city wall of Heraklion. It is about a 20 minute walk from the harbour.

The location of his tomb is atop the city wall and provides great views of the Heraklion. His tomb is fairly simple with his immortal epigram; “I hope for nothing, I fear nothing, I am free.” Personally it is a slightly humbling experience. Worth visiting

By polignosi, Chania Greece
A moment of deep respect

It was a very short visit to pay tribute to the greatest author of Crete. The inscription on his grave depicts his philosophy ‘I am a free man.’

Ulysses336, Brasov Romania
a must see in Heraklion

When we say Nikos Kazantzakis we think of a symbol of Greece and of Crete especially ; although we would expect that he was an important political figure ,the truth is that Nikos Kazantzakis was a famous writer born in Heraklion before Crete joined Greece and was still under the Othoman rule; he is the author of Zorba the Greek and is now unanimously recognized as a symbol of Heraklion ; therefore,visiting his tomb is a matter that isn’t to be missed; when we are a the gate which marks the exit of the Old Town,there is a sign that shows the way to the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis;from the gate we take it to the left and in a short time we arrive to a main road which leads out of Heraklion ; after a while, a sign to the right shows us that we have arrived to the place;the tomb is located on a hill and there are stairs and also a pretty steep,narrow road up the hill; we preferred to climb the stairs; in a short time we arrive to the top where there is a park with a beautiful lawn,trees and plants and in the middle of this park there is the tomb of Nikos Kazantzakis consisting of a simple concrete tomb with a big ,simple wooden cross in front of it ; the place transmits a feeling of calm and serenity and maybe that is why people come here to relax,to calm down and enjoy some peaceful moments ; on the margins of the park there are benches with plants that provide shadow and where people come to read,to stay and relax and enjoy some moments of calm and relaxation ;

By Karen B,

Quiet peaceful memorial

We were touched by how simple and serene this place is. His wife is buried a few feet away. The views are amazing, if you look to the mountains you can see the “face of Zeus” in the distant!