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.
The Monastery of Panagia Kaliviani is located close to Mires village, on the south western side of Heraklion Crete. This is a relatively modern monastery, as it was probably built in the early 20th century.
The church of Agia Ekaterini of Sinaites was built in the 16th century by the Venetians and during the Ottoman rule, it was converted into a mosque. The church is located in the heart of the town, next to the church of Agios Minas.
The church of Agios Titos was originally constructed in the 10th century by the Byzantines. Later on, it was renovated by the Venetians and when Crete was conquered by the Ottomans, it was turned into a mosque. This is where the skull of Saint Titus is guarded.
This impressive church in the heart of the town is the cathedral of Heraklion Town. It was constructed during 1862-1895 next to the smaller church dedicated to Agios Minas.
Monastery of Vrontissi
The Monastery of Agios Antonios Vrontissi is situated close to the village of Zaros, in southern Heraklion. It is a male monastery and its location gives a great view to the Gulf of Messara and Asteroussia Mountains.
Monastery of Agia Irini
Located high up in the mountains, the Monastery of Agia Irini in Kroussonas probably dates from the Venetian period. It was destroyed during the Turkish occupation but it was later rebuilt in 1940. Today the monastery is still active.
Monastery of Koudoumas
The Monastery of Koudoumas is located in southern Crete, close to the bay of Tris Klisies. It was constructed in the 19th century and it is dedicated to Virgin Mary and celebrates on August 15th.