The Museum of Byzantine Icons and Relics of Archdiocese of Crete is located in the Venetian church of St. Catherine of Sinai, in the center of Heraklion and next to the cathedral of Saint Minas. The 16th century church was the main temple of the monastery the dependency of St. Catherine of Sinai in Heraklion, which was earlier established (10th century).
It is not a coincidence that this specific temple was chosen for the museum, as the place is directly connected with arts and culture: Here operated, during the Venetian period, a great school where ancient Greek writers, philosophy, theology and painting were taught.
Some of the greatest Cretans of cultures were educated here, among them Vitsentzos Kornaros, Georgios Hortatzis and, perhaps, El Greco .That time flourished the famous Cretan School of Iconography which ’s main representatives were Michael Damaskinos, El Greco, George Klontzas, Theofanis Kris. Note that Candia (aka today’s Heraklion) in 1600 housed 200 painters, a large number in proportion to its 20000 residents.
After the conquest of Crete by the Turks, this course of culture was violently interrupted and the building was converted to a Mosque and operated until 1922.
Since 1967 the building houses the most important exhibition of Byzantine Icons in Crete, with works of the most celebrated painters of that time (e.g. Michael Damaskinos) and religious relics, manuscripts, vestments and frescoes of the period 14th to 19th century.