On December 15, the Greek Orthodox faith celebrates Agios Eleutherios, and it is also the only day of the year when people can visit the Fortress of Intzedin, in Crete and its church; a small chapel that was built in honour of the saint.
The fortress dates back to 1872, when the island was still under Ottoman domination. Here the Turks had already built a tower in 1646 to send the Venetians away.
The construction is in a strategic position, right on top of the port of Souda, not far from the city of Chania.
For years it was the main defence building of the area and it had twelve cannons.
Later in time, the fortress was used as a prison for political prisoners, common prisoners, and for those sentenced to death. Even the great Eleutherios Venizelos was held prisoner in Intzedin for 15 days; prosecuted for criticizing Prince George.
Intzedin stopped working as a prison in 1971. The place was under the control of the Greek Navy for a few years, and now it remains closed to the public.
However, on December 15 every year, people from the nearby area visit the Fortress while the local priest celebrates mass in the church of Agios Eleutherios.
After mass, people walk around the abandoned prison and the huge courtyard, they visit the watchtowers and see the hostile detention cells, where the life-sentenced prisoners would spent their last night.
Wandering around the fortress, it’s also possible to read the names of the prisoners and their confessions carved on the walls of the building. The fortress inspired literary works and movies, such as “The Stone Years”, which includes references and shots from the fortress of Intzedin.