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Heraklion is the largest town of Crete reflecting on the different civilizations that flourished through the ages. In the heart of the city, you can see Byzantine monuments standing next to Venetian buildings, whereas in the villages one can admire numerous abandoned monasteries and ancient churches.
The impressive Cathedral of Saint Minas dominates the heart of Heraklion, one of the largest churches of Greece. It is the saint protector of the island and it stands out for its two bell towers.
The square of Saint Catherine is a pure oasis for the city, in the middle of which lies the church of Saint Catherine built by the Venetians in 1555. The church hosts a fine collection of icons painted by El Greco, among other important artists. Another church that adorns the city of Heraklion is Agios Titos, a beautiful Byzantine monument with three naves dedicated to Agios Spyridon, Agios Titos, and Agios Nikolaos. The Venetians used it as a Catholic Cathedral.
The churches of Michael the Archangel and Profitis Elias are the landmarks of Arkalochori village, outside the town. They are fine examples of Byzantine architecture.
During the first years of Venetian ruling, in the village of Virizia was founded the holy monastery of Valsamonerou. Today only the churches have survived dedicated to three saints Agios Fanourios, Agios Ioannis and the Virgin Mary. The abandoned monastery is a unique masterpiece and is worth a visit.
Far from the city of Heraklion, between the villages, Messara and Moires the female monastery of Kaliviani lies. The church was built in 1873 over the ruins of an ancient church monastery where it was discovered the icon of the Virgin. Kaliviani monastery leads by example for its charity work to the poor.
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