PHOTOS: House-museum of Eleftherios Venizelos official opening by the President of the Hellenic Republic

After three years of exterior and interior works, the house of the greatest Greek politician, Eleftherios Venizelos, in Halepa, Chania, reopened during last summer.

The official re-opening ceremony was held in Halepa, on Sunday, November 1, at 12 p.m. The President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos, was present in the ceremony.

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“This is something more than an ordinary house. It is the home of National Memory. Eleftherios Venizelos had a vision for Greece. This museum is too small to…”place” the personality of Eleftherios Venizelos, but big enough as an example for next generations”, said Mr. Pavlopoulos.

The President of the Hellenic Republic visited all rooms of the museum and also planted an olive tree on the yard of the resident.

The National Research Foundation “Eleftherios K. Venizelos”

The National Research Foundation “Eleftherios K. Venizelos” has been an old objective of Irineos Galanakis,  former Metropolitan of the provinces of Kisamos and Selino. It was the result of many years of efforts by the society of Chania and Crete to establish a foundation of national recognition, a centre for research and study of the work and the era of Eleftherios Venizelos, in the hometown of the greatest Greek statesman of the 20th century.

It was founded on the 26th of March 2000 on the initiative of the Welfare Foundation “Agia Sofia”, with the support of local church authorities, the Prefecture of Chania, the Municipality of Chania and other Greek and Cretan institutions. The charter of the foundation was signed by 33 founding members. On the 21st  of September 2000, the Greek Parliament ratified its charter by law 2841/21-9-2000 and became one of its founding members.
The Foundation premises are located in the residence of Eleftherios Venizelos in Elena Venizelou square in Halepa, Chania. The residence was built in 1877 and it took its present form in 1927, when Eleftherios Venizelos undertook its thorough renovation. In March 2002, the Greek state assumed the ownership of the Venizelos residence, and then ceded it to the Foundation. Today the Venizelos residence is a museum.

Since November 2005, the Vloom mansion, which has been restored and is located opposite Venizelos residence, accommodates the Administrative and Scientific Services of the Foundation. In August 2007, the building was renamed into “Metropolitan Irineos Galanakis” Mansion, in the honor of the Foundation Chairman.

Metropolitan Irineos Galanakis is the chairman of the 23-member Board of Directors of the Foundation. Nikolaos Emm. Papadakis is the Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation and  Eleni Gardika Katsiadaki is its Scientific Advisor.

A few words about Leftherios Venizelos and his paternal house

Eleftherios Venizelos lived in his paternal house, in Chalepa (Chania), for more than thirty years, from 1880 to 1910, and occasionally, from 1927 to 1935. He was particularly attached to this house. It is the house where he spent his youth, he got married and had his two children, and where his wife died. He was staying in this house when the Revolution of 1897 broke out and when he left for Therisso, in 1905; he returned to this house before moving to Thessaloniki in order to participate in the movement of National Defense, in 1916, and he left from the same house after the movement’s failure, in 1935. He lived there for almost half of his life and this house established his strong bonds with his homeland and his family.

In 1876, Eleftherios Venizelos’ father, Kiriakos, bought the building plot in the centre of Chalepa, a historical suburb of Chania. During the Cretan State, the residence of Crete’s High Commissioner, Prince George, and the Embassies of the Great Powers as well as the residences of the bourgeois were located in Chalepa.

The construction of the residence started in 1877 and was completed in 1880, when Kiriakos Venizelos moved in with his family and stayed there until 1883, year of his death.

When Eleftherios Venizelos was designated Prime Minister and left for Athens, in 1910, the house was rented to relatives, foreign diplomats and Cretan politicians.

The residence in Chalepa took its present form in 1927, when Eleftherios Venizelos returned to Chania and undertook its renovation. The renovation study was assigned to the architect Stavridis, and Venizelos personally supervised the works.

During the next years, until the beginning of the Second World War, the sons of Eleftherios Venizelos lived in the residence.

In 1941, during the Battle of Crete, the house was bombarded. The Germans restored it and used it as their headquarters and as a residence of the German Governors of the Cretan Fortress. During the occupation the house was seriously damaged and vandalised. One room of the ground floor, used by the Germans as an entertainment room, has murals of funny figures.

After the liberation, Sophocles Venizelos undertook the first restoration mainly of the building’s exterior, and after his death, Marika Venizelou, the wife of  Eleftherios Venizelos’ son,  Kiriakos, supervised the repairs of the interior of the residence.

Nikitas Venizelos, grandson of Eleftherios, inherited the residence of Halepa. In 2002, the Greek State bought the residence and ceded it to the National Research Foundation “Eleftherios K. Venizelos”. After the scientific and administrative services of the Foundation were transferred to the former Vloom Mansion, in 2005, the Venizelos residence remained the Foundation’s headquarters and it has been converted into a Museum, a commemoration site for Eleftherios Venizelos.

The residence bears the imprint of Eleftherios Venizelos and the building has maintained its original form, of the years he lived there. The furniture of the decade 1925-1935 was selected by Venizelos himself and his wife Elena, and was brought from Athens and abroad. Decorative objects and paintings of the period, original photographs and personal items of significant value decorate the interior of the residence.

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