The Kurmulis Family’s history is lost in the mists of time; a mixture of myths and daring tales.
The Kurmulis family tree indicates that the family dates back to the time when the Apostle Titus was the first bishop of Crete. There also appear to be ties to the well-known Vlastos clan. Although famous in the Byzantine period, the Kurmulis Family became even better known when the Turkish conquerors came to Crete ushering in a period of suppression and Islamisation. The first crypto-Christians emerged at that time as a response to the difficulties of the age, as people refusing to convert to Islam faced martyrdom and torture. While appearing to convert, crypto-Christians in effect remained true to their Christian faith. In public they behaved like Turks but in secret upheld their Greek language and customs and Christian religion. The crypto-Christians, reviled by their fellow Christians and loathed by the Turks, played an important role in defending and protected the Sultan’s Christian subjects. They punished the harsh, inhumane Janissaries and often saved entire villages from destruction. Of course, it wasn’t easy to be a crypto-Christian because it was a particularly hazardous role to assume. They lived in constant fear of slipping up and revealing they were Christian. For more than 150 years they were important protectors of the persecuted people of Crete, punishing the Janissaries for their anti-Christians activities.
The Kurmulis Family from the village of Kouses in the Messara region was one of the most important crypto-Christian families on Crete. The most famous member of the clan was Michail Kurmulis, who held the rank of regimental commander in the Turkish Army shortly before the 1821 Revolution. A fearless man, he held deep religious convictions. He didn't limit himself to the Messara area but was active across almost the length and breadth of Crete. Shortly before the Great Uprising of 1821, Michail Kurmulis became a member of the Society of Friends and made an immense contribution to the fight for liberation.
The tower of commander Kurmulis has been renovated and today serves as a monument to him in the village of Kouses in the Messara region of southern Heraklion. As descendants of this historical family, we honour the memory and great burden we inherited from our ancestors by continuing the long tradition of the Kurmulis Family reported in the book by V. Haronitis and A. Droudakis, entitled "Historical Locations of Crete" published in 1990.
Kurmulis Family continuously manages and operates the Kurmulis Studios, hotel, in Stalos since 1991.