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The church in Crete which can only be visited once a year

Posted: 16 Dec 2017, 11:39
by Erno
The church in Crete which can only be visited once a year - 16 December, 2017

Agios Eleutherios, Fortress of Intzedin

On December 15, the Greek Orthodox faith celebrates Agios Eleutherios, and it is also the only day of the year when people can visit the Fortress of Intzedin, in Crete and its church; a small chapel that was built in honour of the saint.

The Fort of Intzedin is the only fort on Crete built by the Turks, located on the hill Kalami, 15km east of Chania and has a panoramic view of the Souda Gulf. The fortress of Intzedin was built in 1872 by Reouf Pasha, on the same location where in 1646 the Turks first built a tower, chasing away the Venetians. It was the main defense construction of the port and was named "Intzedin" to honor the first born son of the Sultan Abdul Aziz Intzedin. In later years, the building was used as a prison for political prisoners, prisoners of common criminal law and for prisoners who received the death penalty.

While doing time in this harsh prison, the convicts put their trust in God and built a small chapel, on the south side of the prison and outside the inner wall, dedicated to their liberator Saint Eleutherios (whose name means "he who liberates" and is a patron of prisoners). They painted the icons, carved the iconostasis, made the chandeliers as well as the lights and arranged the chapel's interior.

The construction is in a strategic position, right on top of the port of Souda, not far from the city of Chania. You can see the fortress at the right side of the road after a left turn in the highway, on your way back to Chania (airport).

Intzedin Fort from the road towards Chania

For years it was the main defence building of the area and it had twelve cannons.

Entrance of Intzedin

Later in time, the fortress was used as a prison for political prisoners, common prisoners, and for those sentenced to death. Even the great Eleutherios Venizelos was held prisoner in Intzedin for 15 days; prosecuted for criticizing Prince George.

Intzedin stopped working as a prison in 1971. The place was under the control of the Greek Navy for a few years, and now it remains closed to the public.

Cells surround the big central yard of the fortress

However, on December 15 every year, people from the nearby area visit the Fortress while the local priest celebrates mass in the church of Agios Eleutherios.

Icons hand-painted by the prisoners

After mass, people walk around the abandoned prison and the huge courtyard, they visit the watchtowers and see the hostile detention cells, where the life-sentenced prisoners would spent their last night.

Death-sentenced prisoners would spend their last night here, before the execution

Wandering around the fortress, it’s also possible to read the names of the prisoners and their confessions carved on the walls of the building. The fortress inspired literary works and movies, such as “The Stone Years”, which includes references and shots from the fortress of Intzedin.

G Viglis, Sfakia 1952

From (partly): ... ce-a-year/

Re: The church in Crete which can only be visited once a year

Posted: 17 Dec 2017, 11:34
by Erno
Digital "journey" inside the Intzedin fortress - 17 December, 2017


A photographic tour inside the Intzedin Fortess has been presented, consisting of interactive 360° photographs of high quality.

Enjoy here.

Re: The church in Crete which can only be visited once a year

Posted: 24 Oct 2018, 09:07
by Joan
We saw this posting on Dec 16th last year and immediately put Dec 15th in our diaries for 2018.

Does anyone have any more information? - actual opening hours of the fortress and the church, time of the mass (we would not want to intrude on that) etc.

Any information - or way to find out more - gratefully received.