Mournies is the birthplace of Eleftherios Venizelos, the most important politician of modern Greece, and you can visit the house that he was born, which today serves as a museum. The visitor can see the cradle of Venizelos and rich photographic material featuring highlights from his personal and political career, which has been curated by the National Research Foundation “Eleftherios K. Venizelos” in collaboration with the local municipality, after the renovation of the house.
This is a typical Cretan house of its era, built of stone, has two floors and is located near the village square. The house belonged to his father, Kyriakos Venizelos, where he also was born. Eleftherios Venizelos was born there on August 11, 1864 and a narration is linked to the moment of his birth. It tells that two neighbors then saw a flash in the sky, which was a prediction for the important future of the newborn child. Indeed Venizelos referred to this incident and used to say: "Don’t tell that, people will think that I’m sent by god“.
Another incident from the birth of Venizelos became known by many witnesses. That is: when a woman bore a child, the following scenario took place: "Once the child was born, the midwife or someone else left that on the street outside the house. Then, the father of the baby passed from the place and asked:
- Whose that kid ?
- It is someone else’s, the woman replied
- What will you do with that?
-I sell that!
- I buy it, his father says. How much do you want?
- One grossi (a currency of that era), answered the woman.
- It's mine, says the father and pays. Then he takes the child in his hands and he brings it home as a stranger".
This scene was also played with Eleftherios, believing that because the a child entered the house as a stranger he would be blessed .
There is also a story about the baptism of Venizelos. His godfather, the abbot of the nearby abandoned monastery of AghiosEleftherios, gave him the name Eleftherios, hoping that he would be the one to liberate Crete from the Turks, as he did!
This building housed Venizelos for the first two years of his life, because in 1866 the Great Cretan Revolution broke out and the whole family was forced into exile in Syros island, so as to escape the massacre of the Turkish authorities (because of the revolutionary action of his father). In 1872, after amnesty given by the Sultan they returned to Chania and Eleftherios spent some summers of his childhood in Mournies. There are many testimonials about this period of his life demonstrated his skills and virtues.
Particularly during summers in Mournies, while playing he always had the role of the leader, who coordinated them and gave orders. Through their play, his stubbornness and tenacity were revealed, not retreating after the instructions and prohibitions of adults. Moreover, with a sense of justice he could not tolerate injustice, both against him and his team. On the following holidays he devoted most of his time in reading books, under the trees of the area. So, already since his childhood he demonstrated leadership skills, suggesting its future prospects, and the love of knowledge accompanied him throughout his life.
A great influence in shaping the character of young Venizelos was his father, who was a man of fighting spirit, a patriot with liberal attitudes. Eleftherios was always obedient to the advice of his father and grew up in an environment with ethical principles, dominated by the love for learning and a major spiritual formation, the struggle and sacrifice for the liberation of his homeland.