Halidon Street

Temple of Eisodion, the Catholic Church, Jewish Synagogue, the Archaeological Museum of Chania

The present Cathedral temple of "Eisodion" was built on the place of an older temple of "Theotokos" (Virgin Mary), dating back to the 14th century.

When the city of Chania was occupied by the Turks in 1645, the temple was converted into a soap-factory without altering its initial design. Despite the hostility between the Christians and the Ottomans, the church was finally re-built.The construction of the church was completed in 1860 in the style of a three aisle Basilica. On the northeast side of the temple there is the high bell-tower. The architectural elements of the temple are associated more with the tradition developed in the period of the Venetian occupation. The temple is closely connected to the historical events in the city and it was an asylum and shelter during war time and revolutions. It was severely damaged in May 1941 by the bombs dropped by the Germans.

Entered by the vaulted passageway on Halidon Street, Chania's Roman Catholic Church complex dates to the mid to late nineteenth century and comprises a small seminary or collage that originally served as the first girl's school in Chania, established in the late 1860s, as well the Church of St. Mary consecrated in 1870, and a pretty courtyard with a statue of St. Francis of Assisi standing in the centre.

The Italian archeologist Gerola argued that the synagogue used to be the Church of Aghia Ekaterini, based on a map of Coronelli. The Jewish district of Chania was located on the northwest part of the city. The street "Kondylaki" used to be the central street of the district, where the houses of famous Jewish families were located. The Synagogue of Kehal Hayyim is still preserved on a cross street of the street "Kondylaki".

The Archaeological Museum of Chania was established in 1962 on the premises of the former Venetian Monastery of the Church of St. Francis, once the largest and grandest of the twenty-three Catholic churches built by the Venetians in Chania. The building's construction dates to the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries (with early 18th century Turkish modifications), although historical records show that the monastery, or parts of it, remained intact following the 1595 earthquake. Today, this extensively restored building represents one of the finest examples of Venetian ecclesiastical architecture in Crete with three vaulted naves and finely-dressed Gothic-style windows and entrance. Like most other churches in Chania, both Greek Orthodox and Catholic, the monastery was converted into the Yusaf Pasha Mosque in the mid-seventeenth century following the Turkish invasion of Chania, from which an octagonal fountain for ceremonial washing can still be seen in the small garden alongside the museum. At the turn of the twentieth century, the site served as Chania's first "Idaion Andron" cinema and theatre and then as a storage facility for military equipment from WWII to 1962. The Archaeological Museum currently exhibits collections of pottery, inscribed tablets, vases, glassware, jewelry, coins, sculpture, sarcophagi and mosaics all dating from the Neolithic to the Byzantine periods, but with an emphasis on Minoan and Graeco-Roman material, recovered from numerous excavations across west Crete including Kydonia, Idramia, Aptera, Polyrenia, Kissamos and Lissos.

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