Digital Collection of the Museum for the Acritans of Europe

An exhibition entitled “The Acritans of Europe” was organized during the period 16-30 April 2004 at the Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens as part of the project “Acrinet”. It was also taken to Ioannina in May 2004 in collaboration with the Etaireia Epirotikon Meleton (Society for the Study of Epiros), to Karpathos, in collaboration with the Municipality of Karpathos, and to Thessaloniki, to the Museum of Byzantine Culture. The exhibition travelled to the museum at Cluny in France in May 2004 and was on display in the Musée des Civilisations de l’ Europe et de la Méditerranée in Marseilles, between March and June 2005. From May 28th 2006 the exhibition is housed in the Museum for the Acritans of Europe, in the border village of Palaiochora in the Municipality of Pelekanos in the region of Hania.

The European Acritan tradition preserves folk legends surrounding the lives of the heroic warriors and guardians of the borders of various states of medieval Europe, the border areas of which suffered wars and changed hands frequently. In medieval times, warriors who lived and fought in the border zones (akra in Greek), were of a distinct type, in that they rode horses and modelled themselves on the hero-warrior of legend. This archetype reflected the ideologies and martial values of the period and originates in the lengthy heroic martial tradition of the peoples of Europe.

The exhibition The Acritans of Europe explores a number of issues. Among these are the birth of acritic poetry in the border of the Byzantine Empire, the concept of the boundary/border, folk songs and epics dating from the 11th and 12th century A.D. with Digenes as their central hero, the geographical background, that is the representation of the scene where the epics are played out, the various versions of Digenes during the stages of his life and career and finally, the survival and development of acritic poetry and the ways in which it has influenced more recent forms of art.

On 28 May 2006 the permanent exhibition “The Acritans of Europe” was installed in The Acritans of Europe Museum. The museum is located in the border village of Palaeochora in the Municipality of Pelekanos in the region of Hania. The exhibition was officially opened on 9 July 2006.

Scientific responsibility: Aikaterini Polymerou-Kamilakis
Museological editor: Louisa Karapidaki