Saint Minas Cathedral

The Majestic Saint Minas Cathedral: A Testament of Faith in Heraklion

The Saint Minas Cathedral, commonly known as the Heraklion Cathedral, stands as a majestic symbol of faith and cultural heritage in the heart of the historic city of Heraklion in Crete. The cathedral, with its stunning design, rich history, and religious significance, has become a beloved icon not only for the local population but also for visitors from all over the world. This article delves into the fascinating narrative of Saint Minas Cathedral and its enduring legacy in Crete’s Heraklion district.

A Historical Marvel

The Saint Minas Cathedral was constructed in the late 19th century on the site of an ancient Byzantine church dedicated to Saint Minas, Heraklion’s patron saint.

The first church was built in the 17th century but was burned down during the Turkish occupation.

In the year 1826, during Easter, it is said that there was a massacre organized by the Turks against the Christians who were in the temple worshiping.

A horse-riding young general appeared in the form of Agian Agan, a Turkish general, who prevented the bloodthirst of the Muslim fanatics. This was considered a miracle.

During World War II, the city of Heraklion was heavily bombarded by the Germans.

At the side of the cathedral, you can see a bomb that never exploded. This was also considered a miracle by the saint.

The inhabitants of Heraklion, determined to preserve the city’s spiritual and cultural history, embarked on an ambitious effort to build a majestic cathedral in honor of their beloved saint.


A Symbol of Resilience

Throughout its existence, the Saint Minas Cathedral has withstood numerous challenges, including World War II bombings and earthquakes.

Each time, it has been restored and preserved, a testament to the resilience and determination of the Cretan people.

The cathedral stands not only as a place of worship but also as a symbol of unity, perseverance, and faith, representing the indomitable spirit of Heraklion and its inhabitants.

Religious Significance

The cathedral is the primary venue of worship for Heraklion’s Orthodox Christian community. It houses Saint Minas’ relics, making it a revered pilgrimage site and a focal point for religious events and processions all year. The annual Saint Minas festival, which takes place on November 11th, attracts hundreds of committed worshipers and visitors to the cathedral.

As the largest church in Crete and the seat of the Archbishop of Crete, Saint Minas Cathedral holds significant religious importance. It serves as a vibrant center for Orthodox worship, hosting regular liturgical ceremonies, weddings, and baptisms. On special occasions and religious holidays, the cathedral comes alive with colorful processions and celebrations, drawing pilgrims and locals alike to partake in the joyful festivities.

Architectural Grandeur

The Saint Minas Cathedral, designed by Athanasios Moussis, features an eclectic blend of architectural styles.  Primarily influenced by the Byzantine and Renaissance periods.

The cathedral’s façade is dominated by an imposing facade embellished with complex reliefs, architectural embellishments, and a central bell tower that rises to a height of roughly 35 meters.

The use of indigenous Cretan stone, known as “poros”, gives the structure a particular character that adds to its aesthetic appeal.

Interior Splendor

Visitors entering the Saint Minas Cathedral are met by a stunning exhibition of holy creativity. The inside is lavishly decorated with magnificent paintings, delicate woodwork, and finely made iconography depicting Saint Minas’ life and miracles. The iconostasis, a beautiful divider separating the nave from the sanctuary, is a work of art in and of itself, with elaborate carvings and gilded decorations. The warm glow of candlelight and the aroma of incense create a serene and reverent mood.

Photos featuring saint minas cathedral

At the same square, you can also admire the small church dedicated to Saint Minas and the Presentation of Christ to the Temple (now known as “Small Saint Minas“) (2). Also, you can visit the church of Saint Catherine (Agia Aikaterini) (3) which is a Christian Art Meseum. Lastly, you can see the bomb that never exploded up close.

The bomb that never exploded

The Small Saint Minas

How to Get There

Saint Minas Cathedral is located in the city center, inside the old town, which is surrounded by the Venetian walls. Acessing there by foot is the most convenient way because of the lack of parking space. If your accommodation is within the walls, it will take you 10 to 15 minutes to walk there.


The Saint Minas Cathedral in Heraklion, Crete, continues to fascinate and attract visitors with its spectacular architecture, rich cultural legacy, and profound spiritual significance. It is an eternal tribute to the Cretan people’s everlasting dedication and acts as a beacon of religion and cultural pride. Whether seeking religious enlightenment or simply seeing the city’s historical treasures, a visit to the Saint Minas Cathedral is an unforgettable experience.


Respectful Behavior!
Maintain a quiet and respectful demeanor while inside the cathedral, especially if there is an ongoing religious service. Avoid loud conversations and turn off your mobile phone.
Dress Modestly!
When entering the cathedral, dress respectfully by covering your shoulders and knees, as it is a place of worship.
Explore the Interior!
Take your time to explore the cathedral's interior, including its stunning frescoes, mosaics, and religious artwork. These intricate details offer insights into the cultural and artistic heritage of the region.
Religious Artifacts!
Do not touch or handle any religious artifacts or objects unless explicitly allowed. Some items may be considered sacred.
Festival Participation!
If your visit coincides with a religious festival or celebration, consider participating to experience the local culture and traditions. Be respectful of the worshipers during these events.
Respect No-Entry Areas!
Be mindful of any areas within the cathedral that are marked as off-limits to visitors. These areas may be reserved for religious ceremonies or contain sensitive religious items.
Explore the surrounding area!
On the same square, there are destinations that you can enjoy, like the "small Saint Minas" and the Christian Art Museum of Saint Catherine.
Christian Art Museum of Saint Catherine
Donate if You Wish!
Many religious sites rely on donations for maintenance and upkeep. If you wish to support the cathedral, consider making a small donation.

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