The church of Agios Nikolaos (St Nicholas) is a very unique sight in Chania city, in a short distance from Avra City Hotel. It is located in the scenic Splantzia neighborhood, in its central square.
Agios Nikolaos church has a very unique architecture. This has to do with the fact that initially it was a Dominican monastery, which was built between the 13th and the 14th centuries. This is the reason that sometimes it is also called Agios Nikolaos monastery.
During the Ottoman occupation of Crete, the monastery was converted to a mosque. At the same time, a part of it was used as barracks of the Turkish janissaries army.
It was in that period that the tall minaret was built on the corner of the church. Although the impressive metal top of the minaret was destroyed through the centuries, the minaret has been masterfully restored.
The building started functioning as a church in 1918, after the liberation of Crete and its reunion with Greece. It was dedicated to Agios Nikolaos (St Nicholas), the patron saint of the sailors.
Today, the church of Agios Nikolaos is one of the most unique churches in Chania city, as it is the only church in Greece that has both a bell tower and a minaret.
Another special thing about the church is the underground fountain in front of it, which you can find after going down several stairs. During the Ottoman period, the Muslims of the city used it to wash themselves.
Behind the fountain there is a big underground water tank, which was connected to the Venetian network of water tanks in Chania city. All these tanks could cover the water supply of the local population for about six months in case of a siege.
The church of Agios Nikolaos (St Nicholas) is located next to one of the best places to relax in Chania city, the scenic Splantzia square (or 1821 square, as it is officially called). In spring and summer, the square is full of life and local color due to the buzzing cafes, taverns and shops around it.
Next to the church of Agios Nikolaos lies the small church of Agia Ekaterini (St Catherine), one of the most well-hidden sights in Chania city.
Agia Ekaterini church, according to historians, was built in the 16th century. It was neglected for centuries, as it was used as a shop instead of a place of religion, until the 20th century, when it was restored and started functioning as a church again.
The church has the very characteristic architectural style of the post-gothic era. Apart from Agia Ekaterini (St Catherine), it is also dedicated to Agios Ioannis o Erimitis (St John the Hermit).
On the other side of Splantzia square from Agios Nikolaos church, lies the Venetian church of St Rocco, who for the Venetians was the patron saint who protected them from plague.
The church still retains its original architecture, as it was one of the few churches in Chania city that wasn’t converted to a mosque. Today it is not functioning as a church any more, and sometimes you can find interesting art exhibitions taking place there.
In the area there is also the second minaret of Chania city, after the tall one in Agios Nikolaos church. It is the Achmet Aga minaret (or minares, as it is called in Greek).
Achmet Aga minaret is located in the scenic Hatzimichali Daliani street. Today, it lies among the many lovely cafes, taverns and shops of this very interesting area of Chania city.
Agios Nikolaos (St Nicholas) church, Agia Ekaterini (St Catherine) church, St Rocco church and Achmet Aga minaret are all exceptional places to visit during your stay in Chania city, as they are characteristic of the authentic local life through the centuries.
Among them, Agios Nikolaos church, in the beautiful Splantzia square, is one of the most unique churches in Chania city, with its one-of-a-kind architecture and its underground fountain.