The rich archaeological material yielded by excavations conducted
over many years by the 13th
Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities in the county of Chania,
and also by retrieval of material and donations, forms a Collection that records, with great clarity,
the history of the westernmost county in Crete
from the Early Christian times to the period of Turkish rule. Representative examples of this Collection are displayed
in the church of San Salvatore.
Built on the west side of the fortress of Chania,
next to the bastion of the same name, the church was the katholikon of the Franciscan
monastery of San Salvatore. The cloister (chiostro) that housed the cells of the
monks is still preserved on the south side of the monument. The extensive restoration
of the church made it possible to identify more clearly the various building phases
of the monument, unify the space, and display its austere, uncluttered architectural
features to good effect. The original church, which probably dates from the 15th
century, was the small domed section on the east side. In the 16th century, this
was extended to the west, following the same type of a vaulted hall with strainer
arches. At the end of the Venetian period (middle of the 17th century), the church
was extended to the north by the addition of two rectangular rooms with an entrance
on the west side. These rooms, in which a limited use of Gothic motives can be
observed, were roofed by cross-vaults and communicate with the nave by means of
large archways. Under the Turkish domination, the church was converted into a
mosque, the original church being detached and a sanctuary apse (mihrab) created
at the south-west corner of the south aisle.
The aim behind the presentation of this material is to sketch the
historical and artistic profile of the county of Chania during Byzantine and
post-Byzantine times. The exhibits have been divided into groups based on the kind of object:
mosaics, funerary inscriptions, wall-paintings, icons, architectural sculptures, ceramics
and items of minor arts, and coins. The objects in each unit are presented in
chronological order. Maps and explanatory panels inform visitors about the provenance
of the items on display and the historical background of their period.
Some of the most important exhibits of the Collection are:
Part of a mosaic floor of an Early Christian basilica with a depiction of a deer and a vine. 6th century.
Two-zone column-capital decorated with acanthus leaves and birds. 6th century.
Gold pendant with a bead of glass-paste. 6th-7th century.
Bronze lamp with handle decoratd with a cross and a winding tendril. 6th-7th century.
Jugs. 6th-7th century.
Two-sided closure panel with representations of animals and plants and crosses on the narrow sides. 8th-9th century.
Part of a wall-painting with a depiction of Saints Merkourios and Mamas. 11th century.
Pair of bronze earrings from a female tomb. 11th-12th century.
Grosso of Doge Pietro Gradenigo (1289-1311).
Sherd of a glazed vase with a depiction of a human figure. 15th - 1st half of 17th century.
Apotropaic horned mask. 16th-17th century.
Votive inscription with coats-of-arms of Venetian families from the town of Chania (1623). The inscription read as follows:
"...the governor Jacopo Palma, and all his infantry and cavalry forces had this monument erected in the year of Christ 1623, in honour of this
great man, who courageously resisted the enemy in battle, the founder of peace, the just ruler".
Icon with a depiction of Saint George on horseback slaying the dragon. By the painter Emmanuel Tzanes (1660-1680).
Bronze lamps. 17th century.