Agios Titos, Heraklion
|Open to the public:||08.00 until sunset|
|Entrance fee:||Free admission|
|Supervised by:||Holy Archdiocese of Crete|
|Access and walking difficulty:||Difficulty rating, 1|
Probably the oldest church in Heraklion. The initial building was erected in the 10th century after the reconquest of Crete by the Byzantine general Nikiforos Fokas in 961 AD. It was a three-aisled Basilica measuring over 170 meters in length, being one of the longest Basilicas in Greece.
The church was destroyed twice by earthquake and once by fire -in the 14th and 15th century-. It was rebuilt without any architectural changes and lived on as the main Catholic Church in Handax (modern Heraklion). Prominent locals were buried in the churchyard in the Byzantine, Venetian and Turkish period.
As soon as the town fell to the Turks Agios Titos church was converted into a mosque, Vezir mosque (after Ali Kioprouli Vezir, who was the conqueror of Handax. After the last destruction, by the 1856 earthquake, the church was rebuilt from scratch by the architect K. Mousi, as it stands today. It was concluded in 1872 and it is a building of neoclassical nature with intense eclecticism and many oriental features as it was initially intended to be a mosque.
Titus was St. Paul’s disciple, the first bishop on Crete and guardian of the island. Titus’ skull was given back by the Venetians and is kept in a small chapel to the north of the nave kept in a mitre.