17 C
Heraklion

Chania, the highlight of the Venetian period in Crete

Best urban places to visit in Crete. Chania town, Rethymnon, Heraklion, museums,...

Chania is the second largest town of Crete (more than 60.000 residents), just after Heraklion. It’s maybe the most picturesque one, mostly due to its venetian old harbor and the old town around it.  The city is by fact divided in two: the old and the new town. The old city is concentrated around the venetian harbour and its fortifications. With its picturesque and attractive small road maze, mix of trendy fashion or touristic shops and restaurants, the old town is the beating heart of  tourism, as it remains a romantic place as well. Hanging around the old streets, tourists can  ot imagine that this city suffered heavy dammages during th wold war 2 bombings. The old venetian harbour is a place not to miss, with its nice promenade facing the old lighthouse, the Mosque of the Janissaries.

Chania district Sintrivani
Sintrivani district with its public fountain

The city  was a minoan settlement known by the ancient greeks as Kydonia (quinces in Greek). It was an important town during venetian perios when it was turned into a major castle to defend Crete. During the turkish period, the city remained the major town of Crete and  the Pasha of Crete resided in the town. Turkish did a lot of major works and improvements in town. In 1898, during the final moves towards independence and union with Greece, the Great Powers (England, France, Russia,…) made Chania the capital of the semi-autonomous Cretan State. It remains the capital of Crete since 1971, when Heraklion was set as capital.  One of the most famous greek polititians from that period, Eleftheros Venizelos, was born in the city. He was one of the leaders of the Greek national liberation movement  and became prime minister of Greece. Its  family tomb is visible,  on a east hill of Chania, overhanging the city  with a picturesque view of the town.

During the world war 2, the city was the major theatre of the battle for Crete during the german paratrooper invasion of the island. The area and town suffered heavy bombing dammage and major part of population was executed or imprisoned due to participation in the resistance against the German rule.

Chania is a living city with many cultural things to visit, like archeological and nautical museum, galleries, byzantine collection,… Here stand the Technical university of Crete (focusing on engineering,  computer and technologies engineering, science and architecture ) with about 2500 undergraduate and 700 postgraduate students. The city have two hospitals (one private, one general) and international airport.  Nightlife is quiet usual in numerous bars and restaurants ot the old town, as “Xaniotis” (name for inhabitants of town) enjoy the beauty of the “Little Venice of the East”. If tourism is the major economic activity of area, agriculture is still important. Olive oil, of course, traditional mediterranean fruits and vegetables but don’t miss the specialty of the area: avocados.

Museums in Chania

Religious places to visit in town

More about the city