Nikos Kazantzakis was born in Megalo Kastro (Heraklion), the capital of Ottoman-occupied Crete, on 18th February 1883. At the age of six he was forced live the life of a refugee on account of the 1889 rebellion, when his family sheltered in Piraeus for six months.
On returning to Heraklion Nikos attended primary school, but the regularities of his childhood were once again interrupted in 1897. On the outbreak of the final Cretan rebellion, the Kazantzakis family settled on Naxos, where they remained for approximately two years. Nikos began his secondary education at the French Mercantile School of the Holy Cross, which was run by Franciscan friars.
There he learnt French and Italian and began to acquaint himself with European literature, and above all came into contact with Western culture. Following the restoration of peace in 1899 the family returned permanently to Heraklion, where Nikos completed secondary school in 1902.