St. Chatherine of the Sinaites Church
Situated northeast of the Cathedral of St. Minas, this church once belonged to the Monastery of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai . The church was founded in the second Byzantine period, and was a centre of intellectual and artistic activity from the 15th to the 17th century. St. Catherine’s now serves as an exhibition venue owned by the Archdiocese of Crete. It houses works representative of the Cretan Renaissance, the most outstanding of which are portable icons by Michail Damaskinos.The displays also include collections of altar furnishings, books, vestments and detached murals.
St. Titus Church
St. Titus’ Cathedral, an impressive sight. Saint Titus, a fellow traveller of Saint Paul, preached the gospel in Crete during Roman rule and was martyred in Gortyn, where a 7th Century basilica stands in his memory. His church in Heraklion was built during the second Byzantine period, when it first served as the city’s cathedral. During Venetian rule, it housed the seat of the Catholic archbishop and was renovated in 1466, only to be ruined in a fire in 1544. During the Turkish Occupation it served as a mosque and called Vizier Tzami, when a minaret was added, now gone. The present-day structure is the result of further renovations after its almost entire destruction by a strong earthquake in 1856, and later work which followed in 1922. The skull of St Titus was transferred here from Venice in 1956 and has since been kept in the church. If the cathedral is open when you visit, it is well worth going in.
Church of St. Mark Basilica
St. Mark’s Basilica, is now the Municipal Art Gallery and often host to art and crafts exhibitions, almost always open to visit. Built in 1239 in the Piazza delle Biade (Square of Blades), it was at one time the Cathedral of Crete. The Basilica belonged to the reigning Duke, eventually becoming his burial place.
In May 2006, the Basillica was host to the First International Conference on Ethics and Politics, featuring speakers from all over the world. You will welcome its cool, dignified interior and may begin to feel the great age of this city in its venerable walls.
Cathedral of St. Minas
You will find plenty of life around the wide space in front of the cathedral, dedicated to the Patron Saint of Heraklion and one of Greece’s largest churches, completed in a cruciform shape with twin towers. The church suffered damage in the battles for the city and needed thirty years to be rebuilt. In 1896 it was inaugurated with lavish celebrations.
The plateia also contains a wonderful collection of religious icon paintings, housed inside the strong walls of the much older church of Agios Minas, and the Basilica of Agia Ekaterini, (Saint Katherine) built in 1555 and the site of a renowned school of Renaissance painters and writers in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Inside the church can be seen the work of Mikail Damaskinos among other representatives of the Cretan School. The plateia (square) here takes its name from this church, rather than the great cathedral.