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Thematic Exhibition in the Museum

“The voyage, the quest, the correspondence” 

A thematic sojourn in Spain

The thematic exhibition “Travels, Quest, Correspondence” hosts significant documents-testimonies of the true itinerary of Nikos Kazantzakis’ journey through Spain. His book Travelling Spain is the landmark of the author’s quest. It is a work of major counterpoints, comprising the distillation of the writer’s correspondence, experiences, images and thoughts after his first three journeys in this country. 

Curated by – Research and Documentation – Exhibition design: Efi Kefalaki, Voula Vasiliadi, Alexandra Maravelia 

Open air Exhibition

Itinerary “Travelling”  

Philosophers | Landscapes | Spanish Soul | Civil War | El Greco

Five neighbourhoods – one country. The Spain of Kazantzakis

Along the “Travelling” itinerary to the neighbourhoods of the Philosophers, the Landscape, the Spanish Soul, the Spanish Civil War and El Greco, you will relive the Spain of Kazantzakis by walking along the alleys of Myrtia. Don Quixote on horseback marks the beginning and the theme of each neighbourhood. Follow the hoof-marks of his horse to visit every next neighbourhood.
You can pick up the informative brochure with the map of the village at any info-kiosk and do not miss the thematic exhibition titled 'The journey, the quest, the correspondence' in the Museum. 
At the end of the itinerary, we hope that you will have traveled with us to the Spain of Kazantzakis, the Spain of Myrtia, your own Spain...


Kazantzakis’ travelling was not merely a trip of the body and senses: it was a deeply spiritual quest. Travelling to Spain had already started years before he ever stepped foot in the country, through studying and translating eminent Spanish writers, poets and philosophers. With Cervantes as his permanent mental philosophical comrade and intellectual leader, Kazantzakis roamed the country seeking to get to know its great guides, the hidalgos of the Spirit of contemporary Spain. The author made a true friend in the great lyrical poet Juan Ramon Jimenez, he got to know Ortega y Gasset, and spent his time on discussions at ‘Athenæum', a meeting and reference point for the most important thinkers of Spain. Despite his daily struggle to survive, Kazantzakis fed his soul and his insatiable desire for learning through debating with enlightened minds, thus ‘touching’ the essence of men considered to be major intellectuals of the Iberian Peninsula.
In the 'Philosophers' Neighbourhood, you will encounter great Spanish spiritual leaders through the eyes of Kazantzakis and feel the atmosphere of the Athenæum of Madrid, where the 'lion of Aragon' becomes 'John the Baptist' of Spanish philosophy, while the refined aristocrat Ganivet meets Unamuno, the stubborn, passionate Basque, the greatest prophetic figure of modern Spanish history.
"What a joy it is for man to listen one point of view and then to another, and recognize the certain value all viewpoints have and try to create an integrated composition from such fanatic and conflicting ideas!"


For Kazantzakis, every trip, involving both body and soul, marked an experience that was both material and spiritual. A lover par excellence of natural beauty, and an indefatigable labourer of thinking, the author reined all his senses when enjoying a landscape surrounding him. Every nook and corner of his mind, every path of his intellect was filled with images: images of the cities he had been through, the streets and lanes he had walked along, the stones and benches he had rested on. He was never tired of admiring the achievements of man, who had managed “to lift stones and bring them high up, resting in the air like stone miracles”. The author wandered through the cities of Castilla, from the ‘solemn, war-like city’ of Burgos to the old capital, Valladolid, and then to the lanes of ‘this decadent teacher,’ Salamanca. An indefatigable traveller, Kazantzakis, like another Ulysses, crossed mountains, suffered, fought as a wandering knight of the Ideal, and, transformed into a Don Quixote, arrived at the ‘highest capital of Europe, the one closest to the heavens’, Madrid.  Kazantzakis, just like the River Manzanares, fell ‘at her feet (of Madrid) like a burning lover out-of-breath’, recalling the ‘sharply lit and also deeply dark’ Toledo, the ‘Athenian grace and Arabian desolation’ of Cordoba, the sweet sun of Seville. From the high orchards of Granada he looked across the expanse of Sierra Nevada and his heart missed a beat outside the Grand Gate of Alhambra. He goes on in his travelling through cities and villages, Avila, Vargas, Alicante, Zaragoza, closes his eyes and ‘the whole, hustling, multi-coloured, dense drama of Spain springs behind the eyelids” of his…

In the 'Landscape' Neighbourhood, through a mixture of images, music and colour, you will take an imaginary trip into time and space and revel in the Spain of Kazantzakis, the country he considered to be his second homeland, in the arms of his first. Spain and Crete, two landscapes, one meeting... 

"I am struggling to spread my mind clearly over the whole of this outstretched fleece that Spain is on the map of the globe. I draw in my mind its mountain ranges, its rivers, the high plateaus, its plains. […] How could man ever managed to praise, without screaming, the beauty of the land? Often, when I wander alone through foreign cities, it is difficult for me to hold myself back so as not to scream."

Spanish Soul 

Penetrating, carnivorous and merciless is Kazantzakis’ glance: it bares the flesh, it peels it off the bones, it decomposes matter, it seeks, manic-like, the essence of man, his Psyche. And then he reveals it bare and helpless, without touching it up to flatter it, without any gossamer veils to beautify it, transparent and abysmal. His travels is Spain were a quest and a revelation of the essence and depth of the Spanish soul. Behind the image of a young Spaniard, the author sees a modern Don Quixote, chasing skyscrapers instead of windmills. His Dulcinea is not a distant dream, but a woman with flesh and blood, who marries this knight of the Ideal.  And Sancho, the ever-loyal comrade, now is now passively facing daily routine. Fatal Carmen has now become a teacher or a worker. St. Teresa is trying to save her soul by leaving convents behind her and following a different route, through the streets and roads of modern Spain. Is it the eternal heroes that shaped the Spanish soul or the Spanish soul that shaped eternal heroes?   

In the 'Spanish Soul' Neighbourhood, you can seek out the modern Spaniard, as encountered by Kazantzakis whilst seated in a train, you can look Don Quixote in the eye, you too can tilt at windmills and seek out Dulcinea in his soul. Beneath the breath of the divine Bull, you can experience love and the mortal combat between man and god, the hopeless and fearless quixotic adventure. Encounter the contradictions that embrace each other and make up a rich, single unit: the Spanish soul.

"Passion, desire, a warm embrace of life and a feeling that all this is nothing, it is Nothingness, that death is our grand heir.  Yet, the more powerful the soul behind this feeling of Nothingness, the more intensely it experiences each and every fleeting, futile moment. The Spanish soul is a Quixote-Sancho or a Sancho-Quixote, depending on the era. Sometimes it is the eternal element that prevails, sometimes the other. Yet, the two are always in conflict and suffering together …"

Civil War 

Having already travelled to Spain twice (1926, 1932-1933), while living on the island of Aegina writing his Odyssey, in October 1936, Kazantzakis received a telegram from Georgios Vlachos, the director of Kathimerini newspaper, which said: “I know you’d rather go the Reds, but I am sending you to the Blacks, as you call them.” This was how Kazantzakis found himself in Spain in mid-October, as a war correspondent, to report the events that scarred the history of the Spanish people and the entire Europe. Eminent literary figures, the likes of Hemingway, George Orwell, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, moved to Spain as volunteers, followed the ‘Blacks’ or the ‘Reds’ and sent in their reportages, giving journalism the chance to be fully identified -as never before- with literature.  

Through the eyes of these foreign correspondents, the Spanish Civil War acquired a fairytale character, where monsters, princes and scarlet spells emerging from the smoke and the rabble of cities became the heroes of a futile lyricism. Kazantzakis travelled through cities, stopped and sensed, breathless, this ‘new inhumane bullfighting arena’, watched the century-old fraternal hatred mercilessly burst out and annihilate people. He felt, described and recorded what he saw during his 40 Days in Spain and sent his articles in for publication.      

In the 'Civil War' Neighborhood, you will travel to the long-suffering Civil War Spain, the alleys and streets of cities and villages where Kazantzakis wandered, the images he encountered and the voices he heard, the people he saw for the first time, as well as the people he saw for the last time...

El Greco

Kazantzakis had great love and admiration for El Greco. Through his entire work, his correspondence and his life, El Greco was the author’s guru, role model, the grand General, and his ‘Grandpa’, as he calls him in Report to Greco.  El Greco was the great Cretan, whose course of life guided Kazantzakis to pursue his quests, his concerns, his heart’s and intellect’s pangs. The author’s travels through Spain could not but be stamped by his ‘perfect contact’ with El Greco. He wondered around outside the painter’s home, Museum and churches where his works are found, but he did not enter…He was impatient, longed to enter, but held himself back! Just before he crossed the threshold to the Museum, he felt breathless, he gathered his senses, he composed his heart as best he could, kept silent and embarked upon looking at El Greco…
Through the 'El Greco' Neighbourhood, you will travel back in time and space in the company of Kazantzakis, to visit the Prado, the Escorial and the painter's house in Ovriaki and Toledo, share the author's thoughts, passion and emotional turmoil when faced with the works by Domenicus Theotokopoulos. El Greco, the 'grandfather', travels to Crete to visit the village of Kazantzakis, the 'grandson'. A novel meeting in the beautiful alleys of Myrtia with the 'extramural' works of El Greco accompanied by the descriptions of Kazantzakis.
May God allow our encounter to bear fruit!