The Church of Sts Peter and Paul was built during the early years of the Venetian domination and served as the main temple of the monastery of Dominican order (Domenicani Predicatori). It is one of the oldest monuments of architecture of the Cistercian monks in the 12th century, both in Europe and in Greece.
It is located at position Kastela, next to the sea walls of Heraklion, between the Venetian Harbour and the Gate Dermatas. During the Venetian Era it hosted burials of the leaders of Candia (Heraklion) and in the early years of the Ottoman Rule, St. Peter was turned into a mosque in memory of Sultan Ibrahim.
It’s first church was single aisled with wooden roof with slightly projecting transept in front of the parsonage. The latter was rectangular, covered by two low vaults and flanked by two square chapels. The east side was not semicircular as usual, but square and adorned in all its width with a large trilobed opening.
Until the 15th century, the Venetians gradually added four chapels in a row at the south side of the church. In one of them frescos belonging to the 15th century still survive, unique in the city of Heraklion. All these four chapels housed tombs. In the 14th century one more chapel was added and because of its large size, it has an extra entrance.
It is one of the oldest monuments in its class, with a wider European interest about the course of architecture in the 13th century and its presence both in Europe and in Greece.
Another characteristic is the two-storey chapel of the sanctuary, something that has not been found in none monument of its class. The Church of St. Peter was a model for the construction Church of St. Nicholas at Chania in the 13th-14th century.
The features of the monument identified during the restoration works reveal affinities with same-era buildings of the same architectural form in France and Italy (Silvanes, Venzone and Rieti).
The building suffered extensive damage from earthquakes from the 14th to the 18th century. The architecture of the monument with large dimensions (54m long, 15m wide and 12m high) of the middle aisle, combined with the absence of buttresses, seems that contributed to the partial collapse three times by earthquakes in the early 14th century, early 16th and the 18th centuries.