The setting alone in the beautifully restored 16th-century Venetian Church of San Francisco is reason to visit this fine collection of artefacts from Neolithic to Roman times. Late-Minoan clay baths used as coffins catch the eye, along with a large glass case with an entire herd of clay bulls (used to worship Poseidon). Other standouts include Roman floor mosaics, Hellenistic gold jewellery, clay tablets with Linear A and Linear B script, and a marble sculpture of the head of Roman emperor Hadrian.
Downstairs is a private collection of Minoan pottery, jewellery and clay models. Also particularly impressive are the statue of Diana and, in the pretty courtyard, a marble fountain decorated with lions’ heads, a vestige of the Venetian tradition. A Turkish fountain is a relic from the building’s days as a mosque.
The church itself was a mosque under the Turks, a movie theatre in 1913, and a munitions depot for the Germans during WWII. At the time of research there were plans to move the museum to a new location sometime in 2020; check ahead before visiting.