One of the most important Venetian monuments in Heraklion, this former cathedral now houses the city’s Municipal Art Gallery.
Make sure you visit St. Mark's Basilica during your trip to Heraklion to admire the fine Venetian architecture and browse the contemporary artwork on display. Admire architectural features which have lasted nearly eight centuries. Imagine the comfort that Venetians away from home would have derived from seeing a replica of the clock tower from St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
Look for St. Mark's Basilica directly opposite the Lions Fountain in Heraklion’s central square. The basilica was constructed in 1239 and for many years served as the city’s central cathedral. It was converted into a mosque for a brief period during the Turkish reign of Crete. Now it serves as the city’s Municipal Art Gallery and features a regularly changing program of exhibitions. Many of the original features have been restored as this is widely recognized as one of the most important Venetian monuments in Heraklion. The bell tower, however, does not remain.
As you make your way around Lions Square, one of the most distinctive structures you will see is St. Mark's Basilica. The high arches and thin columns are typical of Venetian architecture of the time. Step inside and look for the many original features that still remain. Frescoes and altar carvings on the walls and ornate windows set back into the stone recall the time when this was the most important place of worship in the city.
Spend some time browsing the artwork on display as well. Permanent exhibits include work by Greek artists, Maria Fiorakis, Lefteris Kanakakis and Thomas Fanorakis, as well as old photographs of Crete. The gallery also holds exhibits with popular themes including photography, painting and sculpture. Back outside, look up to the clock tower. This is an exact replica of the clock tower in St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
St. Mark's Basilica is open Monday through Friday and is free to enter.