Fodele Crete - Home of the great El Greco
Fodele is a beautiful little village of 500 residents set in a verdant ravine some 28 km west of Heraklion. The locals have held on to their traditional lifestyle, despite the rampant tourist development of the surrounding area.
The area of Fodele expands over 24,000,000 sqm, extending from the northern side of Mt. Strouboulas to the north coast of Crete, at the bay of Fodele. Most of its area is forest covered by bushes. Another 3,000,000 sqm cover the famous Fodele orange grove. The river Pantomantris and its banks which form a perfect refuge for hundreds of flora and fauna species, cover another 600,000 sqm.
The name Fodele probably derives from the name of one of its first settlers, since 1248 it is mentioned three times at the Kalergis-Venetians treaty. At the census of Fr. Barozzi (1577), Fodele is mentioned belonging to the county of Milopotamos of the prefecture of Rethymnon.
Since then all the censuses (Castrofilakas 1583, Bassilikata 1630, Turkish 1671, Hourmouzis 1842 and 1881), mentioned Fodele with quite a few residents, most of them Christians.
Since 1920 the area of Fodele is part of the Malevizi County of the prefecture of Heraklion.
The road to Fodele runs by the river Pantomantris (which took its name from the old city of Pantomantrion that once existed there) and through fruitful orange groves.
The village itself is built within orange and plane-trees, forming a true oasis for the visitor, during the hot summer days.
Visitors can enjoy the Cretan specialties at the tavernas of the village, buy souvenirs of Cretan weaving from the small stores and take a walk to the old monastery of Agios Panteleimon, which played an important role in Fodele’s history. This 5 km walk along the river side passes through a forest with plane-trees and bushes.
Fodele has two beaches; one is near the national road and provides some tourist facilities, a large hotel, restaurants and cafes. The other one which is located to the west of Fodele, is not organized and can only be reached from the village.
Most people, however, visit Fodele because tradition has it that Domenicos Theotokopoulos or else El Greco was born here; there is even a small museum dedicated to him in the village. At the village square underneath a one thousand year old plane-tree is a memorial of the great painter who was supposedly born in Fodele in 1541.
It is a plaque, standing on a marble base, with the face of the painter engraved with the following text:
"The Faculty of History of the University of Valladolid, in the very heart of Castille, presents this statue, cut from the rock of Toledo, to Fodele in memory of the immortal fame of Domenikos Theotokopoulos. July 1934
The plaque was brought to Fodele in 1934 by a team of professors, representatives of the University of Valladolid.
Another memorial of the painter stands in the village since 1964 when the 350th anniversary of his death was celebrated. It is a bust made by the sculptor Apartis.
Within a small distance west of the village square is the small settlement of Arhontiko with the house where El Greco was born and passed its childhood.
Near the museum is the 14th century Byzantine church of Panagia (Holy Mother) with beautiful murals.
It is built on the site of an older, 8th century church, of which only a few architectural traces can still be seen.
It is said that this church inspired El Greco to express his feelings with religious themes and sacred items.
How to get there:
There are daily regular bus services from and to Heraklion.