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The single-aisled basilica of St. Francis belonged to the order of the Franciscans during Venetian rule and stands out both for its special architecture and its sculptural decoration. The Turkish conquerors turned it into a poorhouse and in 1796 established a girls’ school right next to it. To its east, the ruins of the two chapels can still be seen.
Τhe element that makes St. Francis stand out among the monuments of the city is the renaissance door at the entrance of the temple, which is decorated with ornate and complex symbols. The original school building no longer exists, but was reconstructed in 1890 and is still in operation as the 1st Primary School of Rethymnon. It was designed by George Daskalakis who also designed the minaret for Nerantze mosque and was a famous civil engineer at the time. It is a two-storey building with 11 classrooms and has been declared a preserved public monument.
The Lady of the Angels
The Lady of the Angels is a three-aisled church in Rethymno. The locals call it “Mikri Panagia” meaning “Little Virgin” to distinguish it from the “Great Virgin”, which is the main cathedral of Rethymno. It was built in the last years of Venetian rule by the Dominican Order and was dedicated to Mary Magdalene. Although in the first years of the Turkish conquest it functioned as a Christian church, it did not take long to follow the fate of most of the temples of the city. The church was turned into a mosque and acquired a minaret, the top of which was to fall and gain the nickname “gossip”. It started operating as an Orthodox church again in 1917 after the establishment of the Cretan State and was dedicated to the Lady of the Angels, that is, the Virgin Mary. Near the church, we find the Historical and Folklore Museum of Rethymno as well as the Marine Life Museum. The church celebrates on the 25th of March, on the day of the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the most important religious and historical public holidays for the whole of Greece.