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Chania Splantzia

St Nicholas church in Splantzia ChaniaNear Kastelli and Koum Kapi, north-east of the old town of Chania, is the Splantzia district. Its distinctive feature is its square with the church of Agios Nikolaos (St Nicholas), part of the old Dominican friary, which was converted into the Mosque of Sultan Ibrahim during the Turkish period.

The church of St Nicholas was converted into a barracks for the Turkish Janissaries, but was also their place of daily prayer. The church was renamed “Hügar Tzamissi”, probably a corruption of “Hükümdar Tzamissi”, meaning “Mosque of the Sovereign”. It housed the scimitar of the Turkish dervish who was the first to enter the city, a sacred and miraculous relic to the Turks. The minaret which was added to the church has two distinctive circular balconies.

Nearby is the church of San Rocco, a round Venetian church which is no longer in use. St Rocco protected the inhabitants of Chania from the plague, a sign that the scourge of Europe in the Middle Ages did not leave Chania untouched.

During the Turkish period, the Splantzia was the Turkish quarter, the equivalent of the Christian quarter in Sindrivani Square in the harbour, the centre of the social and political life of Chania.

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