Visit El Greco’s Birthplace on Crete

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The Museum of El Greco, also known as El Greco Museum or the Domenikos Theotokopoulos Museum, is a celebration of Crete’s most famous painter. Domenikos Theotokopoulos, also known as El Greco was born in Crete in the year 1541. A renowned painter, sculptor and architect, El Greco was a highly influential artist of the Spanish Renaissance. His paintings are famous for their dramatic contrasts between light and dark, as well as the religious themes and thin figures.

Who Was El Greco?

At the time of El Greco’s birth, the island of Crete was a Venetian possession. Not much is known about the artist’s early years, and few paintings are left from this period. He left the island of Crete approximately 1560-1565 at the age of 20. There he learned about Renaissance painting and developed his talent. From 1570 to 1576, he lived in Rome, establishing a studio but success still eluded him. In 1576 he left Rome for Spain, first to Madrid and finally settling in Toledo. His most famous works come out of his Toledo period.

About the Museum of El Greco

The Museum of El Greco is located the village of Fodele, approximately 1 km from the center of the village. Here you will find replicas of El Greco’s major works as well as related documents. Although it has been disputed, this is widely considered to be the house El Greco was born in, as it was described as being 25km northwest of the town of Heraklion and next to a Byzantine Church. For many years the building was in ruins, but a grant from the Greek Ministry of Culture began the process of restoring it. In 1998, it was opened to the public for tours and remains so to this day.

Visiting the Museum

Although El Greco didn’t spend his whole life in Crete, he would describe it with fondness. He said, “The place where I was born is surrounded by orange trees, springs of drinking water and a Byzantine church.” The museum is located right at his birthplace. It is relatively small which makes it easy to fit into a day of sightseeing. The nearby area is quiet and serene, surrounded by orange, fig and pomegranate trees. Nearby you will find a quiet stream, stone water well, old taverns, and even an old Byzantine farm’s remains. The museum is open Monday through Sunday from 08:00-19:00, and the admission is only €2 (EURO). You’ll also find a selection of restaurants in the nearby area.

The Legacy Of El Greco

El Greco was an enormous influence on the later Expressionist and Cubist movements. He was ahead of his time, as many of his contemporaries didn’t appreciate his dramatic and unique style and merely found it puzzling. He defies categorization to this day, with many scholars maintaining that he belongs to no true school like other artists. In the 20th century, he began to receive the recognition he truly deserved, not just for the work itself but for the influence he has had on the art world in general.

The Museum of El Greco celebrates the famous painter’s roots, life, and legacy. While on the island of Crete, you won’t want to miss the chance to visit.

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