THE SECRET SCHOOL
There were times in Azogires when the children were forced to learn another religion and another language; this was the way the Ottoman Empire tried to force people to forget their original Greek and Byzantine roots. To prevent this the people developed the secret school - schools that for several hundreds of years were moved from basements of houses, to caves into the hills, to bushes, up in forests and in dark corridors and cracks on the hillsides, in fac all over Greece and Crete. They spread like wildfire and became the origins of many revolts for freedom and religion. The teaching always took place quietly in the dark or by candlelight, and the children were sworn to secrecy – swearing that even if tortured, they would never tell where their school was.
One of the last one in Azogires was right in front of the Turks eyes’, located in the neighbourhood of Kriariana, near the monastery. In those days all the houses in that neighbourhood were connected, that is they had doors in between them so if you were wanted or on the run, you could kick open doors and run away through someone else’s house. The secret school was located in the basement of one of these Venetian houses, a 3 flat home with only two entrances. The children would study in the dark and if ever it would be given away, there was a secret tunnel that only the house owner knew of, not even the teacher knew about it. The tunnel was beneath the floor and would be opened by removing some soil and a big flat stone. The children would crawl in to it and the house owner then closed it from outside, placing a clay pot on top of it so the Turks had no idea what was going on. They had just watched 20 or 30 children go in to this house and now they could not find them! The tunnel would come out by the river somewhere but to this day we don’t know exactly where, perhaps you can find it next time you visit Azogires?