The town of Chania in Crete

 Chania, CreteChania is the capital of the homonymous prefecture in Crete. The town is one of the finest in Greece, largely retaining its old, traditional Cretan atmosphere and many reminders of its history, giving it a unique charm.

Chania is one of the most picturesque towns of Crete and has a lot of interesting sites to see. To the east is the busy outdoor leather market and the splendid archaeological museum, housed in the old Venetian church of St Francis, with its Minoan pottery and artefacts.

North of the museum lies the heart of Chania – the two Venetian ports. The eastern harbour has the slender Venetian lighthouse and the squat Mosque of the Janissaries built in 1625 with strange egg-shaped domes and spider leg arches.

Behind the mosque lies the Kastelli quarter with seven recently restored vaulted shipyards of the Venetian Arsenal built around 1600 – there were once 17 of them.

The rectangular west harbour is generously lined with tavernas and cafes beneath the faded and crumbling facades of Venetian houses and tipped with a solid, unattractive fortress of the Firkas Tower.

Chania beach strip at Agia Marina a few kilometres to the west although there is a small strip at the western end of the Venetian walls called Nea Chora that’s popular with the locals and has cafes and sunbeds.

The oldest part of the town was built on the ruins of a Minoan settlement, Kydonia, and is encircled by walls dating from the Byzantine and Venetian eras with the sea completing the circle. The Minoans have left behind magnificent tombs as well as many interesting artefacts.

Under the occupying forces of both the Venetians and the Turks, the city of Chania was very multi-cultural with people from different religions, nations and cultures co-existing.

Today, There are complete districts from the Venetian period which are still intact, as well as well-preserved Jewish and Turkish districts.


What to see

The Castle of Firkas

At the harbour entrance is the Firkas fort which was built in 1629 to protect the entrance to the port and its name derives from the Turkish firka meaning barracks. It was here that the modern Greek flag was raised in 1913 after the Unification of Crete with Greece. It is now the home of the Nautical Museum and a summer theatre. Directly opposite this is a Venetian lighthouse dating from the 16th century. The harbour itself dates from Venetian times and is a pleasant place to stroll or ride around the town in a horse drawn carriage. 


Archaeological Museum

The Chania Archaeological Museum exhibits include finds from all over Crete. A feature of the harbour area is the Janissaries Mosque built in 1645 during the Ottoman empire.

The Archaeological Museum of Chania is housed in the ancient church of San Francesco and collects artifacts ranging from the Neolithic to the Roman era, in particular ceramics, painted sarcophagi and tablets with the famous inscriptions in “Line A and Line B”. In the nearby garden there is a lion of San Marco and a Turkish octagonal fountain.


The old town

Following the city walls from inside the city itself enables you to come across delightful alleyways and fine Venetian houses with stone coats of arms and wooden balconies.

At the bottom of Moschon, not far from the Naval Museum, is the elegant arched Renieri gate, which is a covered passage leading to the beautiful Renieri Chapel, the remains of a private chapel which belonged to a Venetian nobleman.

chania old town

The market of Chania

The grand covered market of Chania opened in 1913 as part of the Unification celebrations. It was modelled on the market of Marseilles and is a magnificent building, housing around 76 shops and cafes.

With the increase in tourism some of the retail outlets have given themselves over to selling tourist souvenirs rather than fresh produce, but there is still enough hustle and bustle of a market place to ignite your interest.

Open Monday to Saturday, many things are cheaper in the market than in the local shops, and the food in the restaurants is tasty and good value


The Naval Museum

The Naval Museum of Chania is dedicated to the naval history of the island and houses ship models, naval instruments, historical documents and exhibitions of battles ranging from the Copper Age (2800 BC) to the present day. Limnoupolis Water Park Limnoupolis Water Park is a brand new water park just 8 kilometers from Chania.


The Trimartiroi Cathedral

Close by is the Chania cathedral, Trimartyri, dedicated to the Virgin of the Three Martyrs, Chania s patron saint. The date of its construction is not known although records show that it was in the town during the Venetian period.

It had an interesting experience during the Ottoman period when it was turned into a soap factory, only being converted back to a church when the Pasha s son fell into a well, and after successfully praying to the Virgin to save his son he offered the church back to the Christians of Chania.