Saint Titus Church

Heraklion, Greece

Saint Titus church is one of the most important monuments in Heraklion. In 961, Nicephorus Phocas drove the Arabs from Crete, bringing the island back under the wing of the powerful Byzantine Empire. This is when the first Orthodox church of St Titus must have been built, to rekindle the Christian faith and tradition in Crete, which had declined due to the corsair conquest of the island.

Saint Titus was a disciple of the Apostle Paul and the first Bishop of Crete. The first church dedicated to him was that in the old capital Gortyn, which also housed the metropolitan see of the island until its destruction by earthquake and the Arab transfer of the capital from Gortyn to Chandax (Heraklion) in 828 AD.

The skull of St Titus, the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mesopanditissa and other sacred relics from Gortyn were moved to the new church.

At the fall of Heraklion to the Turks all relics were removed to Venice, where they still remain today. The single exception is the skull of St Titus, which was returned to Heraklion in 1966 and is now kept in a silver reliquary in the church.

During the period of Turkish rule, the church of Saint Titus was ceded to Vizier Fazil Ahmet Kiopruli, who converted it into a mosque known as the Vezir Mosque.

The great earthquake of 1856 totally destroyed the church. It was rebuilt in its present form as an Ottoman mosque by architect Athanasios Moussis, who also designed the Orthodox cathedral of Saint Minas and the barracks in Eleftherias Square.

The minaret of Saint Titus was demolished in the 1920s, when the last Muslims left Heraklion with the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey. Today Saint Titus is an Orthodox church dedicated to St Titus the Apostle, following modifications carried out by the Church of Crete in 1925.

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Details

Founded: 16th century
Category: Religious sites in Greece

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Bartosz Samitowski (3 months ago)
One of the main historical places to see in Heraklion. The oldest church in the area (Xth ce)
Chris Oh! Boylesque (5 months ago)
I am a fan of orthodox churches, the ikons, decorations and the such. This church was one a mosque, the Mihrab and fountain niches can still be seen in the walls, although the main Mihrab has since been painted to resemble that of a byzantine apse. The stained glass windows are a genuine treat... Pro tip: go in the evening when the sun nears the horizon and watch as coloured dapples of light hit the church in various places, playing with the buffed silver and gold of the ikons. Moreover, the skull of St Titus himself is kept in a special Chapel on the left of the church upon entering. So a holy place indeed. Take the time to meander through the ikons, admire the paintings, ex votos, and religious atmospheres that pervade the dappled coloured hall. Sit and reflect and absorb. It is a beautiful beautiful space.
Ayinde Woods (14 months ago)
This church was amazing and beautiful! We got to experience a baptism and learned a lot about the history. We truly recommend visiting this place!
Julius Zabolevičius (14 months ago)
Really impressive church, both from inside and outside
Alexandra Sarah (21 months ago)
Beautiful church, with some lovely stained glass windows. Have been inside only once during a baptism, but it seemed quite impressive.
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