Imposing castles and fortresses, Byzantine churches decorated with frescoes, and ruins of old settlements are to be found scattered in or near numerous villages and the coastal areas of the Prefecture of Chania.
A remarkable Early Byzantine church, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, can be seen near the village of Kato Episkopi, in the area of Kissamos. In the early Christian years, it was the seat of a Bishops’ see. In the 6th century AD the church took the form it has today, and it has been in use continuously since then.
The Venetian fortress of Gramvoussa was built on the unoccupied barren island of Imeri Gramvoussa, opposite the Gramvoussa peninsula, where the ancient town of Agneion flourished during the Roman years.The two islands, Agria (= wild) Gramvoussa to the north, and Imeri (= tame) Gramvoussa to the west were named after the peninsula of Gramvoussa. During the Venetian years, ships sailing to and from other parts of Crete and from Venice would seek shelter in the natural harbour of Imeri Gramvoussa.
The area was named after the fortress built there by theVenetians in1371, in order to control the area. It is believed that building materials from an ancient city of the region were used for the construction. Near the fortress there are theruins of a monastery and a church of Saint Nicetas (Agios Nikitas), celebrated on September 15th.
The settlement of Samaria was named after a chapel of Osia Maria, located near a cave; there, according to the popular tradition, the lesser saint Osia Maria from Egypt led a secluded life. According to another story, a young woman known as the Hrissomaloussa (= golden-haired) of the Skordilis family went to live there by herself, after she was disgraced by the Venetians.
The Byzantine chapel of Saint Paul (Agios Pavlos) is located east of Agia Roumeli, within a walking distance of approximately 30 minutes, along the E4 path. It was built in the 11th century AD next to the sea, on a site where, according to tradition, the Apostle Paul came ashore during his voyage to Rome.
Two little islands (known as Lefkes in Antiquity) at the entrance of Souda bay control the movement of shipping to and from the large natural harbour. It was there, on one of these islands, that the Venetians chose to build a stronghold, for the protection of the bay from pirate and other hostile ships.