Chania is the second largest city of Crete and the capital of the Chania Prefecture. It lies along the north coast of the island. The city enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate, with sunny dry summers and mild rainy winters. The city of Chania can be divided in two parts: the old town and the modern city which is the larger one.
Chania’s Old Town is considered the most beautiful urban district on Crete, especially the crumbling Venetian harbour. The borders of the Old Town are the mostly destroyed old Venetian wall (and bulwarks) and this has been the cradle of all the civilizations which were developed in the area. The central part of the old town is named Kasteli and has been inhabited since Neolithic times. The Splantzia Part of the Venetian Quarter quarter (next to the east part of Kasteli) is also largely untouched and very atmospheric.
The modern part of Chania is where most locals live and work. It is less traditional than the old town, but there are still areas of charming beauty or of some historical interest. The oldest district (early 18th century) of the modern city is Nea Hora (meaning “New Town”) which is located beyond the west end of the old town. It is a developing area, but also a very picturesque one, with narrow old lanes leading to a small fishing harbour. The plan of the central area is very good, there are some nice parks and several sports grounds, the most important being the Venizeleio Stadium of Chania and the Swimming Pool at Nea Hora. The 1913 indoor market (“Agora”), a large building based on the market of Marseille, is on the edge of the old town and is popular with tourists and locals alike. Some other important sites of the newer urban area are the The Court House The Public Gardens ,The Garden Clock-Tower , The Episcopal Residence and the House of Manousos Koundouros (built 1909), the Cultural Centre (“Pnevmatiko Kentro”). The central largest squares in Chania are the Market Square (“Agora”), the Court House Square (“Dikastiria”) and the “1866 Square”.
Don’t miss it
The Neoria, in the harbour of the Old Town. Venetian buildings (14-16th century AD) that were used for the protection, repair or building of Venetian ‘galleys’. There are nine out of the original 25, still in existence.
The Loggia in the area of the ‘Xenia Hotel’ and the church of St. Francis in Chalidon Street, are two of the most important Venetian monuments.
Also worth seeing are the churches of St. Rokos (1630, Splantzia) and St. Sotiros (near the ‘Xenia Hotel’).
The Breakwater and the Lighthouse, are both Venetian (with Arabian foundations) whilst the Mosque with its domeshape is Arabian.
The Firka fortress (opposite the Lighthouse) is where the Turks imprisoned the Cretan rebels.
The minaret (at the church of St. Nicholas, Splantzia), the Turkish baths (near the main town church), the Court House (Court Square) – which is also the County Hall, the Italian army barracks (next to the Public Gardens), all originated from the Turkish period of the island’ history.
Archaeological sites: Aptera (15 km from Chania, on the way to Rethimno), Polyrrinia (49 km Northwest) is one of the most important ancient towns of Western Crete, overlooking the plain and the bay of Souda. The ruins of a small ancient temple and the walls of the town still exist, together with the remains of an ancient Greek theatre, Roman reservoirs, a Venetian monastery and a Turkish castle.
The Samaria gorge: situated 43 km south of Chania it is rightly considered to be the most magnificent and beautiful gorge in Europe.
Products and typical dishes
Typical Cretan products are olives and olive oil, orange fruit and juice, wine and sweets/cakes with natural sweeteners, honey or grape-juice syrup.
Agricultural August organized by the Prefecture of Chania every year at the end of summer.