The Nerantze Mosque is one of the most impressive and best-preserved monuments of the old town of Rethymno which, like many other buildings, underwent significant changes, as did the city itself.
In the Venetian period, it functioned as a church of Santa Maria (the Virgin Mary of the Augustinian Order), and a chapel dedicated to Corpus Christi was built next to it. In 1657, when the city was seized by the Turks, the church was turned into a mosque dedicated to the conqueror of Rethymno, Gazi Huseyin Pasha; however, it was more commonly known as the Nerantze Mosque (1657). Later during the Turkish rule, the Venetian terra-cotta tile roof was replaced by the three characteristic domes that can be seen today, and the church was converted into an Ottoman Seminary (theological school), with a minaret added to it. More specifically, the minaret was built in 1890, according to designs made by George Daskalakis, a famous Rethymnian civil engineer of the time.
The Council of Turkish Elders aspired to create the most impressive minaret in the East, and the truth is that this new addition, standing 27 metres high and having two balconies, turned out to be the largest and most imposing minaret in Rethymno. After the Cretan State was established and the Greek War of Independence, Greece gained its autonomy from the Ottoman Empire. At this time, the mosque was converted into a church and dedicated to Saint Nicholas, however, it never operated as a church. Today, the former mosque operates as the Municipal Music School under the administration of the Rethymno Association for the Promotion of the Arts. Restoration works have brought to light dozens of graves, which were found under the Venetian-era floor. As for the carved surround of the door, it is one of the most impressive and elaborate samples of Renaissance architecture that can be seen in Rethymno. Various musical performances, concerts and events take place here.
Entrance to the mosque is free. Within walking distance of the Nerantze Mosque, visitors will find the Mosque of Kara Mousa Pasha, another popular attraction that can only be admired from the outside.