Saints Peter & Paul Church

The Saints Peter and Paul Church in Heraklion: A Timeless Testimony to History

Standing sentinel between the Venetian harbor and the bustling seafront, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Heraklion is a historical landmark, and it’s a mesmerizing tapestry woven with centuries of stories. From its humble beginnings as a Catholic cathedral to its transformation into a mosque and eventual restoration, this architectural gem whispers tales of conquest, faith, and cultural exchanges.

A Walk Through Time

The Church of Saints Peter and Paul was built during the early years of Venetian rule and served as the main temple of the Dominican Order.

Built in the 12th century, it is considered one of the oldest structures in Heraklion of its kind. The Church of Saint Peter was a model for the construction of the Church of St. Nicholas at Chania in the 13th century.

During Venetian rule, the church housed the tombs of prominent nobles and rulers of the city of Candia (now Heraklion), solidifying its place as a symbol of Venetian power and prestige.

During the Ottoman occupation in the 17th century, it was converted into a mosque dedicated to the memory of Sultan Ibrahim.

A minaret was constructed outside of the church, at the southwest corner, but it didn’t survive due to earthquakes.

In general, the church suffered severe damage from earthquakes from the 14th to the 18th century.

In the 20th century, there was a revival of the church’s original purpose. Meticulously restored, it now stands as a testament to Heraklion’s dedication to preserving its past.

The church is only open on the feast day of St. Peter and Paul (June 29), but occasionally hosts events, and visitors can explore the interior.

Even if you don’t happen to explore the interior, you can just admire the church as you stroll leisurely along the beach.

Architectural Splendor

The church’s architecture is a harmonious blend of Venetian and Ottoman influences, reflecting the diverse periods of its existence.

The church’s main aisle is 54 meters long, 15 meters wide, and 12 meters high, with large dimensions that contributed to its partial collapse during earthquakes.

The church’s two-story sanctuary chapel is a unique feature not found in other monuments of its class.

Until the 15th century, the Venetians gradually added four chapels in a row on the south side of the church. In one of them, frescoes dating back to the 15th century still survive, and they are unique in Heraklion.

It is one of the oldest monuments in its class, with a wider European interest in the course of architecture in the 13th century and its presence both in Europe and in Greece.

Some elements of the Ottoman period that were revealed during the restoration works include the mosque’s mihrab, the pebbled floors of the surrounding area, and a ceramic kiln.

Around the church during the renovations, various artifacts have been found from different eras, like the Byzantine and Arab eras.

A few meters away from the church is the Historical Museum of Crete, which has a beautiful collection of all the eras we previously mentioned on display.

Photos featuring saints peter and paul church

Exploring Heraklion's Treasures

A visit to the Saint Peter and Paul Church allows you to immerse yourself in Heraklion’s historical and cultural tapestry. This Venetian structure is a must-see site for history buffs and cultural adventurers alike, as it is close to other significant landmarks such as the Heraklion Archaeological Museum and the Venetian Walls. Its quiet environment and harmonious incorporation into the cityscape make it a perfect site to halt, ponder, and appreciate faith and tradition’s ongoing heritage.

“The Venetian Walls around the old city”

“The Archeological Museum of Heraklion”

“Municipality Building of Loggia”

“Venetian Fortress of Koule”

“The Morosini Fountain (lions square)”

How to Get There

Saints Peter and Paul Church is located in the city center, inside the old town, which is surrounded by the Venetian walls. Getting 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.


In conclusion, the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Heraklion stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of Cretan culture and heritage. Its beautiful surroundings as well as the views take you back in time to an era bygone. Even if you are not able to see the magnificent interior during your visit, it is definitely worth observing the magnificence of the church architectural complex.


Plan your Visit!
The church is only open on the feast day of St. Peter and Paul (June 29), but occasionally hosts events, and visitors can explore the interior. Check local information websites if you need to visit the interior.
Modest Attire!
In case you find the church open to the public, we recommend modest attire as it is a place of worship.
Art and Architecture!
Take time to appreciate the architectural details within and outside the church. These can provide insights into the historical and cultural significance of the site.

Destinations near saints peter and paul

More options for nearby locations to plan your vacations better!


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