Chania

View of the old port of Chania, Crete, Greece.

Chania, or ‘Venice of the East’, is the second biggest city in Crete, built on the site of old Kydonia. The distinctive colour of the old town with all that it has inherited from earlier periods, like the iconic Venetian harbour and the unique architecture, have collectively established Chania as one of the most popular tourist destinations on the island.

Chania Today

Chania has managed to keep its historical character and authentic ‘colour’ despite the strong growth of the tourism sector in recent years. It is one of the most beautiful cities in Greece, keeping alive the imprint of the various cultures that have passed through here over the last centuries.

In recent decades, Chania has emerged as one of the fastest-growing tourist centres on Crete. Especially during the summer the Venetian harbour and the narrow lanes of the Old Town are bursting with visitors from all around the globe. At the same time, summer brings a wealth of cultural activities, festivals and events in the renovated historical buildings, and the shipyard of Moro at the eastern end of the old harbour.

The city, however, remains active beyond the limits of the tourist season. The student population and active locals continue the long intellectual and spiritual heritage of Chania to this very day.

A walk in the city of Chania

A walk here would certainly pass through the historical quarters of the Old Town, which are made up of individual residential areas, each with its own particular character and architecture. On the way, we will see details and structures representative of the Venetian, Ottoman and local building styles, Neo-Classical houses, churches, squares and so on.

Sites and Monuments at Chania city

Starting at the west end of the Venetian harbour, we can admire the view from the Firka fort, and then discover the stone-paved streets of the leading Christian families at Topana – with their unusual and multicultural forms. Next, we pass through the lovely Jewish quarter and arrive at Venizelos Square – the meeting point of the locals. It was here Venizelos, often called “the maker of Modern Greece” made his speeches and the historical resonance of the place is not lost to this day.

We continue down Halidon Street – past the Archaeological Museum and the church of Agios Francesco, and stop to pay our respects at the Panagia Trimartyri – the main church of Chania. Now we turn east into Splantzia, a predominately Turkish neighbourhood, taking Srydlof Street behind the Trimartyri church, where the famous Bootmaker shops are found.

Firkas fort at Chania old harbour

Keeping on towards Splantzia, we pass behind the impressive cruciform structure of the Municipal Market, one of the busiest spots in town with its explosion of colours and smells. Arriving at Splantzia, one can still see the plane tree where Christians were hung by the Turks, right by the Venetian church of Agios Rocco. Then we proceed towards the sea, to visit the dockyards and Grand Arsenal. A little further on we will encounter one of the most iconic structures in Chania – the Giali Tzami – or mosque; the first to be built in Crete, its name means the Mosque on the Strand. Today it hosts various exhibitions.

Opposite us looms the lighthouse – the most photographed structure in Chania – as we continue our stroll along the colourful Venetian harbour always teeming with life. Once more we hit the paved passages – in search of ‘new’ corners with their unusual mixes of architecture – a sure sign of the long history the city has seen. Here we can shop for pottery, have lunch or explore churches and art galleries in our quest to understand this ancient city a bit more.

Venizelos Tombs – Akrotiri – Chania

Venizelos Tombs – Akrotiri – Chania

On the road towards Akrotiri peninsula, in a location with a unique panoramic view, are the tombs of Eleftherios and his son Sophocles Venizelos. Eleftherios Venizelos, Prime Minister of the Cretan State and later seven times of Greece, and Sophocles’, his second son who was also the Prime Minister of the country between 1943 and 1952, are buried in the park.

Souda Castle – Chania

Souda Castle – Chania

At the entrance of the large bay of Souda, there are two small islands, which controlled the movement of ships to and from the large natural port. On the larger of the two islands, the Venetians decided to build a strong fortress to protect the gulf from enemy and pirate ships.

Public garden (Dimotikos Kipos) – Chania

Public garden (Dimotikos Kipos) – Chania

The stunning Public Garden or (Dimotikos Kipos) is located in the central district of Chania, not far from the Municipal Market. In the last years of the Ottoman rule, at a time when the city was suffocating within the restrictive walls, the need for a relaxing recreation area was very strong.

The Venetian Port & Lighthouse – Chania

The Venetian Port & Lighthouse – Chania

The Venetian Port The Venetian port of Chania, including the Venetian lighthouse, is one of the symbols of the city and a favorite walking area for locals and visitors alike.

Municipal Market of Chania – Crete

Municipal Market of Chania – Crete

The Municipal Market of Chania is a particularly lively spot, full of colours, scents and constant movement, that in addition to being a popular tourist attraction is still used by locals.

Frangokastello

Frangokastello

The area of Frangokastello was named after the fortress built there by the Venetians in 1371, to control the area. It is believed that building materials from an ancient city of the region were used for the construction.

Gramvoussa Fortress – Kissamos

Gramvoussa Fortress – Kissamos

The Venetian fortress of Gramvoussa was built on the unoccupied barren island of Imeri Gramvoussa, opposite the Gramvousa peninsula. This is where the ancient town of Agneion flourished during the Roman years.

Rotunda of Episkopi – Platanias – Chania

Rotunda of Episkopi – Platanias – Chania

The Rotunda of Episkopi is a remarkable Early Byzantine church, dedicated to the Archangel Michael, that can be seen near the village of Kato Episkopi, in the area of Kissamos. In the early Christian years, it was the seat of the Bishop of Kissamos. In the 6th century AD, the church took the form it has today, and it has been in use continuously since then.

Old Town of Chania

Old Town of Chania

The old town of Chania embodies the long history of the city. In the picturesque alleys, visitors can see the marks left by every civilization that has settled here for a period of time in the past.

The Walls of Chania

The Walls of Chania

The city of Chania was surrounded by walls already in the Byzantine era. The Byzantine fortification had an irregular shape and enclosed the hill of Kasteli. These walls, which were built with stones detached from the ruins of Ancient Kydonia, were repaired in 1252 by the Venetian conquerors, who built a new city within the walls, following a new city plan.

The Cathedral of the Virgin Mary (Panagia Trimartiri)

The Cathedral of the Virgin Mary (Panagia Trimartiri)

The Cathedral of the Presentation of Virgin Mary also known as Panagia Trimartiri is considered the protector of the city of Chania. The central aisle is dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin Mary (Isodia tis Theotokou), which is celebrated on November 21. The northern aisle is dedicated to St. Nicholas (Agios Nikolaos) and the southern aisle to the Three Cappadocian Fathers (Tris Ierarhes).

Historical & Folklore Museum of Therissos – Chania

Historical & Folklore Museum of Therissos – Chania

The Historical and Folklore Museum of Therissos in the prefecture of Chania, was founded in 1985 and is housed in the former headquarters of Eleftherios Venizelos. The village of Therissos, is known for the role it played during the movement for the unification of Crete with Greece in 1908.

Historical & Folklore Museum of Gavalochori – Chania

Historical & Folklore Museum of Gavalochori – Chania

The Historical and Folklore Museum of Gavalochori was founded in 1967 but was inaugurated in September 1993. It is housed in a building typical of the local traditional house architecture and occupies two levels. It has a modern design, which helps to exhibit and highlight the existing displays and items in a way that guides the visitor through the rooms. There are seven main exhibit rooms in the museum. Each one is focused in a different area of life, starting…

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Ecclesiastical Museum of Tzagarolon Monastery

Ecclesiastical Museum of Tzagarolon Monastery

The Monastery of Agia Triada (Tzagarolon) is one of the most impressive monasteries you will see in Crete. It stands out for its façade with Doric style columns, but also the elements of Renaissance architecture. It was built by the Cretan monks Jeremiah and Lawrence by the Venetian Orthodox family of the Tzagarolon in the early 17th century. The museum is housed in three rooms and the exhibits, in addition to icons, a collection of vestments and samples of small…

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Chemistry Museum of Chania

Chemistry Museum of Chania

The museum has been open to the public since 1996, on the second floor of the regional office of the General Chemical State Laboratory.

Folklore Museum of Chania

Folklore Museum of Chania

The Folklore Museum of Chania is a private museum created on the initiative of Aspasia Bikaki and Irini Koumandaraki. It is housed in a hall of the Public Library, the entrance to which is located in the yard of the Catholic Church of Chania. It is a quiet and welcoming space, tucked away from the busy main street and often missed by visitors. The founders, passionate about preserving the Cretan art of embroidery and textiles, traveled to many villages themselves,…

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Nautical Museum of Chania

Nautical Museum of Chania

The Maritime Museum of Crete is located at the entrance of the historic Fortress Firkas. It is a beautiful location, that most visitors stumble across on their promenade around the waterfront and worth exploring in full to become acquainted with the rich maritime history of Crete.

Archaeological Museum of Chania

Archaeological Museum of Chania

The Archaeological Museum of Chania is located in the centre of the Old Town, on Halidon Street. The archaeological collection was initially moved here in 1963 and temporarily housed in the Venetian church of Saint Francis. The church used to be part of a former monastery of the Franciscan Order and is considered nowadays an important monument of the city.

History of Chania – Crete

History of Chania – Crete

Chania is built on the site of ancient Kydonia, a city that according to legend was founded in prehistoric times by Kydonas, a son of Hermes or maybe the god Apollo. It is also mentioned by Homer as a very important city in Crete.