Tucked within the ancient mountains of Crete is a scenic valley with a dark history. The Askifou War Museum tells one family’s very personal story of anguish and triumph. The museum’s owner, Georgios A. Hatzidakis, was only 10 years old when World War II arrived at his doorstep. The lush farmland became a battleground for Commonwealth, German, and Greek forces fighting in animal pastures and olive groves. The rain of aerial bombs killed Georgios’s youngest sister, destroyed his home, and left him with a permanent scar on his forehead.
Keeping a record of Crete’s heroic struggle offers solace to the Hatzidakis family. Georgios’s collection of wartime artifacts grew over the years and now fills the driveway, front yard, porch, and several ground-floor rooms. Each item, whether found after the war by relic hunters or acquired from other collectors, tells its own story. The artifacts now encompass other eras in Hellenic history as well; from the Greek Revolution to the Balkan Wars.
The nature of the pieces varies widely. Firearms and other weapons are displayed next to newspapers, binoculars, and motor vehicle parts in a sort of artistic collage. Pieced together, through physical association in the museum space and oration by the tour guide, the collection is given historical context. Visit, enjoy the view, sip a glass of local raki, and experience the epic tale of the Battle of Crete.
Know Before You Go
As with many areas of Greece, finding English speakers is more difficult in rural areas. To get the full experience, it is advisable to either speak some level of Greek or have a translator present.