Tour of the Monuments

The Cathedral of the Virgin Mary (Trimartyri)


The current cathedral of the Entrances was built on the site of an older church of the Virgin, which dates back to the 14th century. When Chania was occupied by the Turks in 1645, the temple was turned into a soap factory, but without changing its layout.

Until 1868, the temple, as a soap factory, allegedly belonged to the well-known Turkish official Mustafa Pasha Giritli (Cretan). An icon of the Virgin Mary with a sleeping candelabrum was kept in the area of the oil warehouse, according to Mustafa’s order.

Tradition states that the soap factory was wrecked and abandoned, while the icon of the Virgin Mary was taken with him by the last craftsman. When Mustafa became prime minister, under Sultan Mejit, the Christian Community asked for the site to build a church again. Mustafa, influenced by various personal events, granted the space. The sultan sent 100,000 grossia and Mustafa’s son, Veli Pasha (Commander of Crete at the time), 30,000 grossia. With the strengthening of the Christian Community and despite the problems caused by another Ottoman, the church was finally erected.

The construction of the church was completed in 1860 in the form of a three-aisled basilica with a raised nave covered by a pointed chamber. The side aisles are covered by cross vaults and are divided in height by the gynekonitis. In the north-west corner of the church is built the tall spire. The architectural elements of the temple are more closely related to the tradition formed during the years of the Venetian occupation with the carved pessos, the cornices and the frames of the openings. The eastern wall of the church is decorated with large and impressive hagiographies works by G. Kalliteraki, G. Stavraki, E. Tripolitaki and D. Kokotsi. The image of the Entrances of the Virgin was also returned to the church, while the following text was engraved on the upper part of the facade:

“The Mother of God Naon, O Diavata you see,

The child was raised by the faithful of the church,

Fleeing birds timidly in the midst of a tempest

Under this wing of the heavenly canopy.”

The temple, inextricably linked to historical events, was an asylum and refuge for those persecuted from time to time during the national uprisings. It was seriously damaged during the bombing of the city by the Germans in May 1941.


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