The imposing Minas Cathedral in Heraklion on Crete is one of the largest cathedrals in Greece and impresses with its colourful frescoes and ornate iconostasis.
The majestic Agia Ekaterini Square in Heraklion, the capital of Crete, is framed by three churches. The massive Agios Minas Cathedral from the 19th century is the first to catch the eye. It is one of the largest cathedrals in Greece, is today the episcopal see of Crete and impresses above all with its imposing interior. It is dedicated to St Minas, who is also Heraklion's patron saint.
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PICTURES: Agios Minas Cathedral in Heraklion
Origin of the Agios Minas Church in Heraklion
The impressive Metropolitan Church was built (with an interruption of 17 years) from 1862 to 1895 under the direction of the architect Athanasios Moussis and is today the main church of Heraklion. Under the dome, which is almost 9 metres wide, there is room for around 8,000 worshippers on a floor space of 43 by 30 metres. The two bell towers and the dome rise a gigantic 32 metres into the sky.
Greeting from the Bible
Emblazoned above the entrance portal is a quote from the Gospel of Matthew: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Two Bible quotations are also emblazoned above the columns to the right and left of the round-arched windows: "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (also from the Gospel of Matthew) and "I have chosen and sanctified this place, that my name may be here for ever, and that my eyes and heart may dwell there for ever". (from the dedication of Solomon's Temple).
Visit to Agios Minas Cathedral in Heraklion
The cathedral is entered through the "Kingdom Gate", richly decorated with carvings. Typical of a Byzantine cathedral, the Agias Minas church consists of five naves decorated all over with colourful frescoes. When the sunlight falls through the equally colourful stained glass windows, the interior of the cathedral shines in a veritable sea of colour.
Fascinating frescoes in magnificent colours
The frescoes, which are also typically Byzantine, were only completed in 1964 and mainly show scenes from the Old and New Testaments. The dome is adorned with Jesus Christ as the ruler of the world, while the chancel depicts the life of Jesus and his ascension into heaven.
The ceiling frescoes in the north nave show the crucifixion of Jesus, those in the south nave his resurrection. Directly under the dome hangs one of three enormous chandeliers of gold and silver, symbolising the claim to world domination.
Simple elegance in the sanctuary
The white marble iconostasis is also worth seeing. It takes up the entire length of the chancel and shows St. Mother Mary with the Child Jesus, St. John, Jesus Christ and St. Minas on a golden background. It was designed by Anastasios Orlandos, who also created the marble pulpit and the bishop's chair.
The Miracle of St Minas
During the Second World War, a bomb hit the Agios Minas Cathedral on 23 May 1941 - but it did not explode. On the northern forecourt of the cathedral, the terrifying explosive device can still be seen today.