The Museum of Icons & Heirlooms
The Museum of the Holy Archbishopric of Crete is housed in the Church of Agia Aikaterini (Saint Catherine), which (other than its elegant 17th century entrance-way) dates back to the 15th century.
During Venetian rule it served as a monastery chapel, and was built as a dependency of the Monastery of St. Catherine at Sinai.
During the long period from its foundation to the conquest of Crete by the Turks, the monastery was at its height, religiously and culturally.
It appears that this is where the great figures of the time were trained, such as Michail Damaskinos, Vicenzo Kornaros, Georgios Chortatsis, Cyrillus Lucaris and, according to some disputed evidence, El Greco (Domenicus Theotokopoulos), before he left for Venice in 1567.
The collection of portable icons on display at the museum gives a very clear picture of the Cretan School of iconography, which reached its apex on the Venetian-held island after the fall of Constantinople (1453) and up until the capture of Handakas by the Turks (1699), after which its main propagators were forced to flee to the free islands of the Ionian and to Italy.
Other important displays include murals from various churches around Crete.
Separate display cases contain hand-written gospels, such as one from the Monastery of Epanosifi dating to the 16th century and the book Interpreting the Gospels by Theophylactus of Bulgaria, which was printed in Russia in 1562.
An impressive 1793 processional saint’s bier is also on display in the centre of the church.
Museum of Icons & HeirloomsAgias Aikaterinis Square
Monday – Friday 09:00 – 18:30
Saturdays 09:00 – 15:00
Admission: 2 €