Agia Aikaterini is a beautiful old church, next to the imposing Saint Minas Cathedral. Built in the 13th century, Saint Catherine used to house a school during the Venetian Occupation and is now the home to a collection of Byzantine icons, wall paintings, sculptures and ecclesiastical relics.
The Church of Saint Catherine was originally built in the 13th or 14th century, and used to belong to the famous Orthodox Venetian monastery, dependency of Sinai.
It is built with a Gothic style, similar to the windows of the Basilica of Saint Marc. During the second half of the 16th century, the western church was reconstructed as per the Renaissance style. The restoration was completed in 1576 (as per the inscription located at over the main entrance).
During the Venetian occupation, the Monastery housed a school, in which it is said that many important men of letters taught in the 16th century; among them were Ioannis Morezenos, Ioasaph Doreianos, Ieremias Palladas. Students of the same school were the later patriarchs Meletios Pegas, Kyrillos Loukaris, and Meletios Vlastos
After the fall of Heraklion to the Ottomans, in 1669, the church turned into a mosque (named as Zülfikar Ali Pasha Çamisi or Ayia Katerina Çamisi.)
In 1919, when Crete was liberated, the minaret was destroyed and now only a part of the minaret staircase is still visible from the inside of the church. The church was renovated and from 1943 until 1967 was functioning as an Orthodox church. In 1967, the church was turned into a museum of holy icons and liturgical objects of the Cretan Archdiocese.
Recently the Museum was renovated by the 13th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities of Heraklion (www.iakm.gr).
The following collections are exhibited:
- Ecclesiastical books and manuscripts,
- Ecclesiastical vessels and relics,
St Cathrine Square, Τ.Κ. 71201, Herakleion (Prefecture of Iraklio)
Telephone: +30 2810 336316
Fax: +30 2810 326759
Summer Opening Hours:
Daily 09:30-19:30 – Sundays: 10:00 – 19:30
Admission: 4 Euros
More information from the Ministry of Culture
Find the Museum on the Google Map
Read what the museum’s visitors comment: Via TripAdvisor
by JudyWSWales SWales
What a treat this was!
Spent a wonderful morning in this tiny museum studying the icons, which I have to say I didn’t know a whole lot about until I came here. The setting is also magnificent, in a small but beautifully restored church that was a mosque in a previous incarnation.Many of the icons are very old and quite beautifully painted, some by the leading Cretan artists.We also had a fascinating conversation with one of the curators, a charming young lady, which greatly enhanced our visit. Highly recommended.
By Belgo96, Australia
Definitely worth a visit if you are interested in Cretan painting
This lovely old church sits right up next to St Minas in Heraklion. It was built in the 16th century. It now houses a collection of Byzantine icons, religious vestments, wall paintings and manuscripts across six centuries of Orthodox history (from 14th century onwards). It costs 4 Euros to enter. Crete has a long history in icon painting due to its history of interaction with Turkey and related events. One of the leading exponents of the Cretan School of icon painting was Michael Damaskinos. A number of his icons are on display in the church/museum. I am not a huge icon fan but found these paintings (and they are given pride of place in the museum) attractive.
By dimitriosn604, Heraklion
Ακόμη ενας ομορφος ναός, μεγαλεπίβλητος
Ακόμη ενας ομορφος ναός, μεγαλεπίβλητος και με απέραντη γαλήνη που μαγεύει τον επισκέπτη και του προκαλεί δέος θα μπορούσα να πώ!!
A very nice museum
The museum is small but it has a lovely collection including icons from the 14th century and works of Damaskinos.
The entrance ticket costs 4 euro which I find reasonable (considering that a cold coffee in Heraklion costs approximately 3.5 euro 🙂 ).
I personally found it fascinating and I recommend it to those interested in Christian Art (or generally in art).