The Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption is located in the center of Chania Old Town. Having been an important Venetian province for over 4.5 centuries (1204 – 1669), Crete had a considerable population of Catholic Christians for centuries in its history.
The present catholic church of Chania city was built long after the Venetian era, and during the Ottoman occupation. Today it is the meeting place of the city’s Catholic Christians.
Descending the main Chalidon street in the center of the Old Town, starting from the bustling 1866 square and heading to the Old Venetian Harbour of Chania, and about halfway down the street, we find the beautiful square in front of Trimartiri, the Orthodox Cathedral and Metropolitan church of Chania city.
Just opposite the square of the Trimartiri, on our left as we descend the street, and at No. 46, we find a small door with a relevant sign and a coat of arms of the Franciscan Capuchin monks, which was engraved over the entrance centuries ago.
Getting into the entrance we find ourselves in a beautiful inner courtyard, dominated by a beautiful neoclassical church. This is the Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption of Chania city.
The catholic church is a three-aisled basilica, built in 1879. In addition to neoclassical, it also has Renaissance architectural features. Next to it is a Franciscan Capuchin monastery with a long history, which was renovated in 1991.
The church services take place on a regular basis – you can see the relevant program at the entrance of the church on Chalidon Street. Because the church serves an international congregation, the services are conducted in several different languages, including English.
As mentioned above, the catholic church of the city of Chania wasn’t built during the Venetian era in Crete, but later.
It all started in 1566, when, under Pope’s command, a group of Capuchin monks settled in the Old City of Chania, which at the time was under Venetian control.
The Capuchins originally lived in a house close to the Old Harbour of Chania. It was there that they built the first small catholic chapel in 1675, 30 years after the city’s conquest (1645) and 6 years after the island’s conquest (1669) by the Ottomans.
In the years that followed, the Capuchins built their monastery on its present site, next to today’s catholic church. They also built a hospital next to the monastery, the so-called “College”.
During the eleven-year period (1830-1841) of the Egyptian occupation in Crete, the Catholic pastor of the church received permission from the Egyptian governor to build a small single-aisled church on the site of the present church, which was eventually built in 1844.
In 1874 the catholic church was elevated to the status of the Cathedral of Chania city. Due to its small size, however, and the many damages it had suffered in the past from the earthquakes that struck the island, it was demolished and in its place the present largest church was built in 1879.
The Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption of Chania city is an important attraction in the Old Town, which best demonstrates the multicultural and tolerant nature of the local society in Chania over the centuries.