Chania Saint Francis Catholic Church

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Location: Town

The Catholic Church of Saint Francis (also known as the Monastery of Agios Fragkiskos) is one of the oldest and most impressive Venetian-style buildings in the Old Town of Chania, on Halidon Street. It used to house the Archaeological Museum of Chania until 2020.

The monastery was constructed sometime during the 16th century and it belonged to the Order of Friars Minor. Although its exact date of construction remains unknown, the earliest reference to the church in a report by the Venetian physician Onorio Belli suggests that it predates the strong earthquake of 1595.

The building complex of the monastery was expanded in 1606 and the church was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman occupation period. After the end of Ottoman rule, during the pre-war years, the buildings were used to house the cinema "Ideon Andro" and then, around the 1930s, the "Cafe Santan". It also functioned as a prison where Russian prisoners of war were held during the Second World War. During the post-war times, it was used as a military supplies storehouse until 1963, while from 1963 to 2020, it housed the collection of the Archaeological Museum.

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Top Tours and activities

  • Chania Trikke city tour

    Category: Activities

    See some of the finest spots in Chania's Old Town on a Trikke scooter, including the Ottoman and Venetian alleyways, the square of Splantzia, Halidon street, and an array of beautiful church buildings.

    40 minutes Map
    from € 28.00
    Book now

The monastery in its current form is mostly a result of extensive reconstruction works that occurred in various phases from the Venetian period onwards. Except for a few exceptions, including part of the bell tower on the eastern side of the complex, its original structure has mostly been lost. Subsequent additions include late Gothic elements, the erection of the three chapels on the northern side, and the expansion of the eastern part. On the southern side, there used to be a cloister housing the monks’ cells and other buildings. Today, this cloister has mostly been integrated into the houses and shops that reach up to the church entrance.

Original fragments that were recovered at the monastery are currently displayed among the exhibits of the Historical Museum of Crete. Its marble entrance gate was transferred to the Court House building (Dikastiko Megaron) of Chania during the Ottoman occupation years.

The former facilities of the Archeological Museum in the monastery are no longer open to the public, although conservation works have been planned so that the building can become a functional cultural center again in the future, possibly in the form of a Byzantine-Medieval museum.



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