Crete : Monuments
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Iraklion Old Town
The "Morosini's fountain" or "Lions' fountain" that dominates the center of Eleftherios Venizelos square in Iraklion old town, is a landmark both for locals and visitors. A masterpiece of the Venetian era that would be the pride of any city in the world.
It was made in 1628 AD, under the supervision of the General Provisioner Francesco Morosini, to satisfy Candia's (Candia was the Venetian name of Crete and its capital - Iraklion - as well) needs for water. For this purpose an aqueduct was constructed to bring the water from the sacred mountain Giouhtas.
Agios Titos Cathedral
Iraklion Old Town
With the recovery of Crete from Nikiforos Fokas, the seat of the bishopric is transferred from Gortyna to Chandakas, which became the capital of the island. The new cathedral, which is the most established and largest in the city, is dedicated to the Apostle Titos. Here, amongst other relics, there are gathered the Holy Skull of the Apostle and the miraculous icon of Messopapaditissas.
When the Venetians took over Crete, they installed in the orthodox bishop the Latin archbishop, converting by that the church of St. Titos into a Latin bishop. In the middle of the 15th century, the Latin archbishop, F. Dandolo is renovating the church. Other distractions, caused by earthquakes and fire, resulted to the rebuilding of the church from the start around 1557. The church was a basilica, almost square in shape, with a dome in the middle and a bell-tower in the southwest corner. The church from the inside was divided in three aisles with two series of columns. During the Turkish period, the church was given to Fazil Ahmet Kioprouli and it was changed into a mosque, while the bell - tower was transformed into a minaret. The big earthquake of 1856 destroyed the temple which is being, once more, rebuilt. After the exchange of populations, the Church of Crete repaired it accordingly, and in 1925 it was dedicated again to Apostle Titos. East of the church there was the building of the archdiocese.
Agios Minas Cathedral
Iraklion Old Town
The Cathedral of St. Minas:The small church of St. Minas did not meet the religious needs of the constantly growing Christian community, so the demand arose for the erection of a new cathedral. The plot for the new church used to be a garden that belonged to a Turk from whom it was bought. The architect was Athanasios Moussis and in 1862 the foundation stone of one of the most magnificent and impressive Greek churches was laid. The outbreak of the Cretan revolution of 1866 demanded the stopping of the building work which will continue in 1883 in order to be completed in 1895, when the inauguration of the exquisite temple took place. The church is of the cruciform type with a dome based on a high spandrel, while internally there are also elements of a three aisle basilica. It has two bell towers, one in the northeastern corner and the other in the southeastern one. The right aisle is dedicated to Apostle Titos and the left one to St. Ten Martyrs of Crete. The inside of the church has gone through many changes with new additions. With plans of the architect Anastasios Orlandos the woodcut icon screen was replaced by another one made of marble, the same happened with the bishop's seat. The religious painting of the church was assigned to St. Kartakis who followed faithfully the principles and the models of the Byzantine icon painting. The hundredth anniversary from the inauguration of the Cathedral Church of St. Minas (1995) was celebrated with every solemnity that is suited in an equal occasion and more specifically to one of the most glorious and imposing Greek churches.
Gortyn archaeological site
The Roman Odeum at Gortyn is considered one of the best and the most important of its type on Crete. Is has been founded at the North part of the Ancient Agora of the City. This semicircular building consists of three main parts:
a. The Cavea, connected with a domed corridor through three wide staircases;
b. the Orchestra, which has an internal diameter 8,5 m. and was paved with white and blue marble slabs;
c. The Scene, which had two entrances and the paraskenion, with mosaic pavement in geometric pattern. Statues of Muses stood in the niches. Initially the building was a circular Ekklesiasterion founded in the 5th c. BC. In the portico of this public building the Great Inscription with the Law Code of Gortyn dated to the early 5th c., stood. It was destroyed twice: in the 1st century BC, and again in 46 AD. After this last destruction it was reconstructed as an Odeum.
The great Inscription is considered to be the largest Greek inscription, the Queen of all Inscriptions. Its first fragments were found by the French travelers and were bought by the Louvre Museum. The most part of the Inscription was found accidentally by local farmers in 1884 and was further explored F. Halbherr.
It is a Law Code inscribed in the boustrophedon system of writing. It dates in the 1st half of the 5th c. BC and is the oldest Greek and European Law Code. It consists of twelve Deltoi and was built in the Ekklesiasterion of the 5th c BC. In this Code older laws, regarding the personal and family rights of the citizens of Gortyn, were codified.
Saint Titus Church
Gortyn archaeological site
Saint Titus church at Gortyn bears the name of the Apostle Titus, attendant of Apostle Paul, who was appointed as the first Christian bishop of Crete. It is one of the most important Byzantine monuments in Crete. The name was given to the ruined church by the excavators in the beginning of the 20th c., as they considered it to be the site of the saint’s martyrdom. After the discovery of the new Great Early Byzantine Basilica, just outside the village Mitropolis, its excavators have proposed that as the original bishopric basilica, as it is a century earlier than this, which in the local tradition is named and celebrated after Virgin Mary, “Kera”.
The church has the plan of a three aisled inscribed cross with a low vault. It has been built of ashlar limestone. It has a narthex to the west and five entrances three of which form the trivelum with two columns. There were pillars instead of columns. Its architectural features date its foundation in the 2nd half of the 6th c. AD.
Saint Mark Basilica
Heraklion old town
The Basilica of Saint Mark is one of the most important Venetian buildings-monuments in Heraklion. Today it houses the city’s Municipal Art Gallery. The Venetians, wishing to consolidate their dominance over their new colony (Heraklion) and to express their gratitude and love for their mother country, built a church in the city’s centre dedicated to Saint Mark, patron saint of Venice. The Basilica managed to survive various earthquakes which afflicted Heraklion over the centuries with only minor repairs. During the Turkish rule it was converted into a mosque, the Defterdar Mosque, named after Defterdar Ahmet Pasha, the head of the financial department. The Ottomans demolished the bell-tower of the basilica and raised a minaret in its place, which in its turn was taken down by the residents of Heraklion after the liberation of the island in their attempt to erase the unpleasant reminders and symbols of the Turkish occupation.
Heraklion old town
It is an essential public building in every Venetian city, which was not absent even from the colonies. For Candia, Loggia is considered to be one of the most elegant architectural monuments of the Venetian period, a representative sample of the palladian style. During the Venetian period, Loggia was the official meeting place of sovereigns and nobility where they discussed various topics that had to do with economic matters, commercial, and political ones.
Agios Vassilios, Rethymnon south
It stands 37 km south of Rethimnon, in an imposing landscape which is mentioned at the mid-19th century diary of Th. Spratt (admiral of the British Royal Navy), as "one of the happiest places to withdraw from trials and responsibilities of life".There are lots of legends concerning the foundation of the monastery, which is believed that started during the Venetian occupation of the island. A number of its monks activities made the monastery one of the richest of western Crete and due to its isolated position it played important role in Cretan revolts against the occupying forces. A substantial number of icons and other items is kept in the Museum of the Monastery of Preveli amongst them the miracle - working Eulogistic Cross of Efraim Prevelis.
Martinego Bastion - Kazantzakis tomb
The bastion heart shaped in plan with an acute angle, has two "piazza bassa" and one cavalier. It defines the southeast and the highest part of the fortification. Its name is due to Gabriele Tadini Martinego (1520) who started the construction of a circular tower at the place of the later bastion. It was one of the strongest bastions (the others were that of Pantocratora and that of Vittouri) which also suffered the main attack and most of the bombardment from the Turks.
On the top of the bastion itself there was made a cavalier (which looks like a smaller bastion), whose main purpose was the better defense and control of the area around the bastion.
The grave of Nikos Kazantzakis, the famous Cretan writer, is situated on the highest point of the Venetian fortification at the Martinego cavalier. The inscription by the wooden cross reads: " I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free ", a phrase taken from "The Odyssey" which Kazantzakis considered as one of his most significant works.
The playgrounds of the Academy of the local football team "Ergotelis" are located today on the main bastion and in the ditch around the bastion are the botanical gardens of the city.
Rethymnon old town
During Venetian occupation the mosque Neratzes, which today is used as a conservatory, was the Augustinian church of the Holy Virgin. In 1657 the Turks transformed it into the mosque 'Gazi Housein' or 'Neratze', and in 1890 they added a large minaret with two galleries, which was built from the famous stones from the village of Alfa. The chapel of the Holy Virgin, situated at its west side and dedicated to the Body of Christ, was also transformed into a seminary. Outstanding elements of this building are the doorframe and the three domes.
Saint Francis Church
Rethymnon Old Town
The church of Saint Francis is one of the most important monuments of Rethymno. It was the main temple of the Monastery of the Franciscan Order. The architecture of the building - a single aisle Basilica type with wooden roof - and its ornaments are very interesting. Next to the east side of the temple two deserted chapels are preserved. Its Corinthian style main doorway is impressive, with capitals of composite order. During recent excavations around the church valuable archeological findings have been discovered, including two tombs of Venetian nobles.
During the Turkish occupation the temple was turned into an "Imaret" (a shelter for the poor).
It was also used as a cultural center until 1996. It was recently renovated to accommodate the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Collection of the Prefecture of Rethymno.
Hania Municipal Market
The Market, impressive for its size and shape, is built in the shape of a cross with 76 shops grouped according to their wares in the four arms of the cross. The south façade is particularly well constructed out of chiseled limestone, in the architectural style of the local tradition, developed during the Venetian period. Its construction was completed in 1913 and the formal opening was made by Eleftherios Venizelos on 4th December 1913 as part of the celebrations for the Unification of Crete to Greece.
Hania Archaeological Museum
The museum is housed in the katholikon of the Venetian monastery of St. Francis. During the period of the Turkish occupation it was the Muslim mosque of Yussuf Pasha, while in modern times it was used as a cinema or a storehouse for military equipment. Since 1963 it has been functioning as the Archaeological Museum of the city. Apart from the permanent exhibition, the museum houses temporary exhibitions in the frame of certain local events
25 Chalidon Str., tel. +30821 90334
It contains impressive finds from the excavations of the ancient city of Kydonia, from Idramia, Aptera, Polyrinia, Kissamos, Elyros, Irtakina, Syia, Lissos, Chania, Axos, and Lappa.
Aptera & Itzedin Forts
Aptera, Apokoronas, Hania
Those are two Turkish castles that are built in the 19th century using material from the nearby archaeological site of Aptera. The lower castle is that of Itzedin (also known as Kalami fort) named in honour of the son of the Sultan of the time, by the commander of Crete, Reouf Pasha was used in the past as a prison.
Philanthropic fountain (Koubes)
Kornarou square, Iraklion City
It was built in 1776 by Hadji Ibrahim aga. In order to keep it working, he dedicated almost all his property. It is unique in its kind that is still preserved today. It is of a circular type building with a "tholos" and around the walls there are semi-circular windows with rails, in front of each one of them there exist a tap with a stone basin for the water to be collected. Today it is used as a coffeehouse.
Monastery of St. Peter and St. Paul
Iraklion Old Town
It is situated approximately in the middle of the seaside wall. It was built from the first years of the venetian domination and belonged to the monastic order of Dominicans (Domenicani Predicatori). It was one of the most important and biggest Catholic monasteries of the city. The earthquake of 1508 caused a lot of damages to the temple. It consists of a long aisle which is roofed by a two slope roof and ends at a sanctuary roofed by two vaults. To the north and south wall of the temple there are windows of different types that were opened either during the Turkish period, or even earlier.
Chania lighthouse, the jewel of the city, is one of the oldest light houses, not only in Greece and the Mediterranean, but also in the world. The lighthouse (Faros GR: Φάρος) is a major attraction in the old port of Chania especially at night when it's lit up. The tower is 21m high and is built on a stone base, located at the end of the old harbour's pier opposite to the fortress of "Firkas". Visitors are not allowed to enter the tower. Chania lighthouse was first constructed by the Venetians around 1595 - 1601, and it took its final form, in the shape of a minaret, during the Egyptian Period (1831 - 1841) in around 1839. After the latest restoration, completed in 2006, it was given the formation of the Venetian period. The minaret look is still evident however.
The fortress on the northwest side of the port was constructed to protect the entrance of the port and maintains its Turkish name "Firká" (Firka=barracks). A chain from "Firka" to the lighthouse blocked the entrance to the port in case of intrusion. The fortress was the headquarters of the Army Commander of the city.
San Salvatore Monastery
Hania, old town
The Franciscan monastery of San Salvatore, that houses the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Collection of Chania, was built on the west side of the fortress of Chania, in three phases from the 15th century until the late Venetian period (middle of 17th century). The extensive restoration of the church made it possible to identify more clearly the various building phases of the monument, unify the space, and display its austere, uncluttered architectural features to good effect. The original church, which probably dates from the 15th century, was the small domed section on the east side.
Rethymnon Old Town
A. Rimondi, the Rector of the city, built the famous Rimondi Fountain, which is situated at present day Platanos Square, formerly the centre of Venetian city life, in 1626. The water runs from three spouts in the shape of a lion's head into three sinks. Three small, fluted columns, ornamented with Corinthian capitals are "standing" on the sinks. Above the capitals an entablature can be observed, the middle part of which displays four projections in the shape of the leaves of the acanthus exactly above the columns. Furthermore in this section the words LIBERALITATIS and FONTES are inscribed.
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