Kornarou Square

At the end of the central market lies the Kornarou Square or “Valide Tzami” (Valide Mosque) owing its name to the great Cretan poet, Vitsentzos Kornaros (or Vincenzo Cornaro) (1553-16), one of the leading figures of the Cretan Renaissance and the writer of multiverse rhymed narrative and romantic poem “Erotokritos”.

During the Venetian rule, the space of the square was crowned by the monastery of San Salvatore of the order of the Augustinian friars that was built in late 13th century. During the Turkish rule, the monastery was turned into a mosque dedicated to the Sultan’s mother, Valide. Later on, the temple became home to refugees who arrived in Greece in 1922, and until the 1960s it housed the city’s first gymnasium (high school) for girls. On the northern side of Kornarou Square, you can see the Bembo Fountain and the Turkish sebil (philanthropic fountain) built later on that spot. It was constructed during 1552-1554 by capitan Gian Matteo Bembo who was the first to supply the city with spring water through the aqueduct in Chandax. During the dictatorship, the temple was torn down. Today, the Square is adorned with a fountain and a bronze statue of Erotokritos on horseback, bidding farewell to his beloved Aretousa.

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