THE BYZANTINE WALL OF CHANIA
The Byzantine Wall surrounds the hill of Kasteli, where the first inhabiting of the city is located. It was built in 12th century and its outline is irregular with longitudinal axle from the East to the West, where its two central gates were located. The Wall consists of rectilinear parts, interrupted by small oblong or polygonal towers, and is founded over the ruins of an older fortification of the Hellenistic period. Along with the Byzantine Wall was built the house that hosts the rooms “HAMAM SUITES” on Sifaka 19 Street.
THE EGYPTIAN LIGHTHOUSE
The Egyptian Lighthouse, which is one of the oldest in the world, prevails in the old Port of Chania. The sea-tossed stone lighthouse that is located at the edge of the breakwater, is not only the “guard” of the old Venetian port, but also its most famous jewel. The lighthouse was constructed by the Venetians at the end of 16th century. It has been reconstructed by the Egyptians during the period 1830-40, when English had assigned Crete to the regent of Egypt, Mehmet Ali. At the end of the Ottoman empire, the project had been completed with the addition of the ladder in its east side, as well as pipes, through which passes sea water under the surface of its base. The lighthouse has a height of 21m, height from sea surface 26m and its light reaches a distance of 7 miles. Its base is oktagonal, the middle part has 16 angles, while the top part is circular.
Giali Tzamisi is the unique preserved Mosque of the city and was built during the second half of the 17th century. It is located at the Venetian Port of Chania. The Mosque Kioutsouk (meaning “little”) Hassan or Giali Tzamisi (meaning, the Mosque of the Seaside), as it is commonly known, is a unique sample of islamic art of Renaissance. It was built to honour the first Sergeant of Chania, Kioutsouk Hassan.
During the Venetian occupation (1204 – 1669), the need for the closer presence of Venetians in Crete made them construct a large number of “Neoria” (arsenal) in Chania, where the ships would be repaired during the winter. The construction of the first two “Neoria” in Chania was completed in 1526. In 1593, sixteen “Neoria” had already been constructed. In 1599, the south “Neoria” complex was completed with the construction of the 17th “Neorio”. In 1607, during the expansion of the northeast rampart, begins the construction of 5 more “Neoria” at the heart of the port to the east. Two of them were completed, however, only the walls to the arch of the third one were constructed. During the Turkish period, the lack of maintenance works in the port and the degradation of the role of “Neoria” also resulted in the alteration of the original function of “Neoria” which were now used as military storage spaces. From the initial “Neoria” complex with 17 “Neoria”, nine were demolished.
The fortress Revellino del Porto on the northwest side of the port of Chania was constructed by Venetians to prevent any enemy danger for the port. Its construction began in 1610 and completed a few years before the fall of the city in Turks in 1645. During the Turkish period Revellino was used as barrack (Firka = barrack), for that reason the name Firka is still used today. The arched openings were used as prisons from the Turkish period to the civil war. On the corner watch tower of the Fortress the Greek flag of the Unification of Crete was raised on December 1st 1913 in an official ceremony.
CENTER OF MEDITERRANEAN ARCHITECTURE (GRAND ARSENAL)
The Grand Arsenal is the last of the 17 Neoria to the west. Its construction started in 1585 by the Intendant Alvise Grimani. A new era began for the Grand Arsenal with the addition of the second flour in 1872 during the Turkish period. The building hosted several important public services and authorities. Nowadays, it has been transformed from a roofless ruin into an impressive building that hosts various events and exhibitions. Since 2002, after its reformation, it hosts the Center of Mediterranean Architecture.
ANCIENT KYDONIA (PROTO-MINOAN SETTLEMENT OF KASTELI)
The modern city of Chania is founded in the site of a significant ancient Minoan settlement, Kydonia or ku-do-ni-ja as it appears on Linear B script. According to the tradition, Kydonia was one of the three cities founded by King Minos in Crete. The settlement that is presently excavated in the city of Chania has as center the hill of Kasteli and is the most important of the prefecture.
Aptera is located about 15 km. away from the city of Chania and above Souda Bay, and during the Minoan period was one of the most important city-states of Crete. It is located on en extended plateau with altitude 200m and astonishing view of Souda Bay. Its history begins from the Minoan Period (3500 – 1070 BC), however, the most visible archaeological traces in the ruins belong to the Geometric Period (1000 – 685 BC), the Hellenistic Period (323 – 67 BC) and the Roman Empire (67 BC – 324 AD). During the period 1866 – 1869 the Turks built the castle in order to suppress the Cretan Revolution. Two castles of unique historical interest are located in a small distance from antiquities. The first is Palaikastro that was built by the Turks for the Revolution of 1866 and the second one is Itzedin castle that is located in Kalami. Itzedin was built in 1872, allocated barracks, hospital and other facilities, while it was used up to recently as a prison for political prisoners.
ENTRANCE OF THE RENIER MANSION
One of the most important constructions of the Venetian Period is the Entrance of Renier Mansion. It is a palace (Palazzo) of the homonym Venetian-Cretan family with a small family chapel of Agios Nikolaos and the impressive entrance with the Latin sign and the blazon of the family. The largest part of this building is still preserved with some alterations. Over the arched gate of the entrance, the inscription is still preserved: “MULTA TULIT, FECITQUE AT STUDUIT DULCES/PATER, SUDAVIT ET ALSIT SEMPER REQUIES CERENAT, MDC VIII. IDI B. IAN” (“Many things he brought, done and studied, the sweet father, who worked hard. May he rest in peace 1608”).
GATE AND RAMPART SABBIONARA
The rampart Sabbionara still preserves its Turkish name “koum – kapi (Kum Kapisi = the Gate of the Sand), is located on the northeast corner of the Venetian walls and is completely constructed in the sea. On the front of the rampart, the circular Venetian emblem of the lion of Agios Marcos is still preserved. It is the only preserved gate today and its external side had been modified during the Turkish period.
THE MINARET OF AGIOS NIKOLAOS
The church of Agios Nikolaos, located in Splantzia Square, was built before 1320, during the Venetian period, as a monastery of Dominican Order. After the dominance of Turks in Chania in 1645, the church was transformed into a mosque and was given the name Hiougkar Tzamisi (the Emperor’s mosque), in honour of sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Imbraim. The sword of the Turk dervish, who was the first one that entered in the city, was considered to be blessed and wonder-working, and was reserved there. Its importance is highlighted by the existence of two- instead of one- balconies on the minaret on the southwest corner of the temple. The morphological elements of the minaret are of great interest, as they follow the Venetian tradition.
THE GRAVES OF VENIZELOS FAMILY
Here are located the graves of the charismatic Greek politician, and seven times Prime Minister of Greece, Eleftherios Venizelos, and his son, Sofoklis Venizelos, who was also Prime Minister of Greece from 1943 to 1952. Nearby is located the small church of Profitis Ilias and the statue of Spyrοs Kagialedakis or Kagiales, who on February 9th, 1897 (Revolution of 1897), during the bombing of the revolted Cretans by the fleet of the great forces, he made his body flagstaff to raise the Greek flag that had been dropped by the bombshells of the ships.
THE MUNICIPAL MARKET
The Municipal Market of Chania, the large building of 4000 square meters in the centre of Chania is the “heart” of the city. Its foundation started on August 14th, 1911, at the place that was the main rampart of the fortification during the Venetian period, and the construction of the building was completed during the second half of 1913. The official opening ceremony was performed by the Prime Minister of Greece, Eleftherios Venizelos, three days after the unification of Crete with Greece, on December 4th, 1913. The Municipal Market is cross shaped and has four doors, one in each ward, that close to provide security at the shops that are hosted there. Today at the building of the Municipal Market are hosted many shops that sell local products and souvenirs. The Municipal Market constitutes an architectural jewel for Chania and is one of the most impressive markets in Balkans.
THE MUNICIPAL GARDEN AND THE WATCHTOWER
The Municipal Garden is an important place for walk and pleasure in the city of Chania and is located between Andrea Papandreou and Tzanakaki Street. It is a project of the philhellene Reouf Pasa that was designed in 1870 according to European standards and was planted with many evergreen plants and trees under the supervision and the charge of Pasas himself. Since the beginning of the 20th century, there was a café in the Garden to serve the needs of the people; it has been reconstructed and is open again. An outdoor cinema is hosted in the Municipal Garden that projects every summer quality movies for the lovers of the 7th art. The clock tower of the city is located on the north-east part of the Municipal Garden. Its construction started in 1924 and ended in 1927 and constitutes one of the most remarkable buildings of the City of Chania.
OLD TOWN OF CHANIA
Chania is the most important town of western Crete, built on the eastern part of Chania bay, on the site of the ancient town of Cydonia. The town existed till late Byzantine period, when it was totally destroyed by the Saracens (828 AD). Although bombed and burned several times in its long history, the old town of Chania is considered among the most beautiful cities of the Mediterranean (named the “Venice of the East”). In narrow scenic alleys with the taverns and the beautiful shops, the visitor will meet samples of all civilizations that passed through Crete.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF CHANIA
The Archaeological Museum of Chania is in Chalepa, a historic suburb in Chania, housed in an iconic building constituting a landmark for the whole city. The museum’s permanent collection is developed in three main halls on the ground floor and one more on the first floor, presenting the wealth of archaeological material that has been retrieved from the periphery of Chania through the course of time.
MARINE MUSEUM OF CRETE IN CHANIA
The main collection is located at the entrance to the Firka Fortress, on the West side of Chania harbour. Its collection includes models of ships, nautical instruments, painting, historical photographs and war relics. The material is classified chronologically, starting from the Bronze Age up to our times. The exhibits of the first floor include models of ancient ships, a model of the fortified town and port under Venetian rule, a model that shows shipbuilding and repair buildings, with a rowing ship inside. The second floor exhibits include models of modern Hellenic Navy ships, destroyers, a missile boat, a landing ship with trucks and APVs on board. The exhibits include the full bridge of a destroyer and two torpedo propulsion units. A section of the museum is dedicated to the German invasion of Crete. In the Moro Shipyard at the eastern end of the harbour is a smaller exhibition of ancient naval architecture. This is dominated by a 17m experimental replica Minoan ship constructed between 2001 and 2004 (and eventually sailed and rowed to Piraeus).
ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM KISSAMOS
The archaeological museum is housed in an old government building that was central to the Venetian town of Kastelli. Kastelli took its name from the castle that existed in the town during the Venetian and Turkish periods, some of which can still be seen to this day. Over the years this old government building has served many functions, at one time being a Turkish prison. Now it houses numerous artefacts and antiquities of the region from the prehistoric to late antiquity period. The museum is divided into sections and runs in chronological order starting on the ground floor and up to the first floor. It is well organized, informative and fascinating with many beautiful displays. For instance it documents the disastrous earthquake of 365 AD which hit Crete and decimated Kissamos.
OLIVE AND OIL MUSEUM
Built in the 18th century, the oil factory that houses the Olive and Oil Museum is considered to be the oldest among the six oil factories that the village once had. Nowadays, it is the only surviving building of pre-industrial archeology in the Prefecture of Chania. Given these characteristics, the building was officially listed as a monument by the Department of Byzantine Antiquities of the Greek Ministry of Culture. It is interesting that it was initially regarded to be younger and its listing was assigned to the Department of Modern Monuments. But its architectural and structural particularities led the experts to the conclusion that it is a much older building. The objective of the refurbishment was to bring the building back to its initial form and revive the “fabrica” — as the olive oil factories were once called in Crete. The fabrica is mainly built with materials from the village, as evidenced by its stones and the red soil in its joints, while it shares common elements with other old buildings in the villages of Crete, such as the arched windows. Much rarer are the three pointed arches at the ceiling, an acknowledged influence from the Venetian architecture. The stone blocks used at these arches, the windows, the doors, the corners of the building and the fireplace were brought to the village with drays from other regions of Chania. “Reinforcements” also arrived from the volcanic island of Santorini, such as the special type of cement mixed with the red soil in the joints of the building. To these two materials is the high construction cost that the fabrica is believed to have had and its -now proven- resistance to time attributed.
FOLKLORE MUSEUM OF CHANIA – CRETAN HOUSE
Through the themes of the museum unfolds the life and daily activities of the people in the countryside until the first half of the 20th century. Of particular interest are the textiles and embroidery in the museum which are creations of its founders and their students. These are replicas of rare embroidery that they managed to gather from all over Crete. Equally important are the embroidery tables depicting scenes from the local customs.
AGIA TRIADA MONASTERY
The church is built in the Byzantine architectural cruciform style with three domes. The main church is dedicated to the Holy Trinity and the church has a narthex at the front set at right angles to the main aisle. There are two large Doric-style columns and one smaller, Corinthian-style column on either side of the main entrance. The facade of the church has double columns of Ionian and Corinthian style and bears an inscription in Greek, which is dated to 1631.
The monastery is a Venetian style fortress with towers at each end, and some Baroque influences added later. It measures roughly 40 metres by 50 metres and contains some 50 monks’ cells on two floors. Its courtyard is rectangular shaped and is dominated by a dome church with an ornate Venetian façade; the church is dedicated to the Virgin. The chapel in the courtyard is reported to have some of the oldest frescoes in Crete.
To the west side of the monastery is the narthex, with chapels dedicated to St. John the Hermit and the Ten Holy Martyrs. There are some notable monsters carved in relief on the front of the church. A cave called Arkouditissa or Arkoudia, is also located in the vicinity. Here the goddess Artemis was once worshiped.
The monastery has strict rules is officially closed on Wednesdays and Fridays.
KATHOLIKO MONASTERY IN AKROTIRI
The Katholiko Monastery is the most ancient monastery on Crete, dating back to the eleventh century. The monastery became a place of formal worship in the thirteenth century. The caves of the rocky ravine sheltered the monks, who dedicated their lives to fasting and prayer. Over three hundred years ago, the monks abandoned the monastery because of persistent pirate raids.
The monastery, built into the sides of a ravine, contains a church dedicated to Agios Ioannis Xenos, or St. John the Hermit, the founder of the monastery, who lived and died in the nearby cave that bears his name. The church itself is carved into the rock of the mountain side, and its facade lines up with the slope of the mountain. The bridge across the ravine, and some buildings of the old monastery are still preserved. The view is wild and captivating.
HOLY TRANSFIGURATION MONASTERY
In the area of the monastery of Agia Kyriaki, on a rocky hill below the ruins of the Byzantine castle “Kastellos”, the new monastic buildings of the monastery of Chrysopigi have been erected. The aim was to create an ensemble, where the built and unstructured space are in balance, so that the natural environment and its harmonious relationship with the buildings are highlighted.
This space was blessed by his presence in 2002, the Ecumenical Patriarch Mr. Bartholomeus, who walked the paths of the area and laid the foundation stone of the new Catholic of the Monastery, which was dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ.
In 2012, His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch inaugurated the Catholic Church of the Transfiguration.
Samaria gorge is located at the municipality of Chania on the mountain range of Lefka Ori. It is 18 km long and it is considered the biggest gorge of Crete and of all Europe according to its length. It has 150 meters width, while its narrowest point, named “Portes”, has 3 meters width. It is characterized,since 1962, as the National Park of Greece and it accomodates many endemic birds, rare herbs, plants and different species of animals such as the well-known Cretan Kri Kri.
The Gorge of Imvros is located at Sfakia, south of Chania. It starts from the small plateau of the village of Imvros and it ends up to the village of Komitades, with the spectacular view to the Libyan Sea. It is 7km long and it is easy to be walked during any period of the year in about 3 hours. It consists of rocky formations, narrow passages and wild vegetation. The best point is in the middle of the trip where the rocks are very close to each other and the distance between them is about 2 meters. On the contrary, in the Samaria Gorge, there are no sources of water.
AGIA EIRINI GORGE
The Gorge of Agia Eirini is located 43 km away from Chania. It is a gorge of unique natural beauty. Its name came from the village of Agia Eirini which is built on its entrance. It is 7,5 km long, part of the European path E4 and the duration of the walk in it is about 3 hours. The seaside village of Sougia, with its infinite beach, is 5 km away from the south entrance of the gorge. The gorge accomodates many species of animals such as the Cretan Kri Kri and many kinds of trees, plants and herbs.
The Gorge of Diktamos is located 21 km from the east side of Chania, near to the village Katochori on 300m height. It is 8 km long and ends up at the east side of the village Faragi on 40m height, near the village Stylos. The walk inside the gorge is about 3 hours and it is not very easy, because there are points that need climbing.The gorge is magical because it is full of greenery with huge trees (called platania) and astirakes (the local herb), while it has many steep slopes, where this local herb of Crete grows
The famous oblong peninsula, smacks Separate Island with beaches reminiscent of the Caribbean. At the point where it breaks the peninsula the water does not exceed one meter and created a small lagoon, ideal for children. The east coast is more organized and popular so if you prefer more privacy, head to the beaches on either side of the peninsula or walk until you find one of the isolated bays. Access: Located in the southwest side of Crete, 76 km from Chania.
The alternative to Elafonisi. The amazing beach is located next to the lagoon Elafonissi and is filled with juniper trees, like cedars, and dunes, reminiscent of tropical beaches. If you want to be more isolated, there are several beaches between Kedrodasos beach and the Church of St. John, located about two kilometers east. To get there you need to be organized, because you will find no infrastructure.
Situated Seitan Ports, on the northeast side of the Akrotiri peninsula in western Crete, 20 km from the city of Chania, there is a beach different from all others. Stretches of water penetrating between the steep cliffs of Cape creating small bays. In one of them is the well hidden beach. The location is known as Seitan Ports. The word Seitan is Turkish, apparently left by the Turkish occupation of Crete, and is translated as impish. Therefore the Seitan Ports translated as Diavololimana. However, the beach at Port Seitan shows more devilish than heavenly. Admire color sea!
GRAMVOUSA & BALOS
By the mid 90s, only the local fishermen know this bay, where they found refuge and abundant catch. Tourists and campers flock free today the landscape that reminds beach exotic island despite Greek coast. Shallow, turquoise waters, fine sand like powder in many places has pink and wild beauty. Access: Located 56 km. West of Chania and 17km northwest of Kissamos, from which you can reach by boat. The beach is located on the homonymous island, northwest of the famous lagoon of Balos. The landscape with its crystal waters complements the fortress towering above it and the rusty wreck of a ship sunk many years ago. It is ideal for those who love snorkeling. Access: By your own vehicle or by bus from Chania to Kissamos port and from there by the excursion boats to Gramvousa and Balos.
Award winning and famous, consists essentially of five consecutive beaches, the two most central being the most favorite. White sand, exotic waters and plenty of room for everyone. They have organized large portions but more isolated near the rocks and the ruins of the ancient city of Falasarna. Access: Located 59 km. West of Chania.
Beaches with different options each: the main beach has fine sugary sand, turquoise, warm waters which deepens smoothly and well organized, so it is popular among families with children. To the west, you will find the long beach of Vatalos with pebbles and rocks, ideal for mask while in the east you will find the stunning beach of Good Sands, famous for the large dunes and the dunes. Access: Located on the southern coast of Crete Sfakia, 80 km from the city of Chania.
The nicest perhaps 70 kilometers from the city of Chania end with pebbles on the beach of Sougia, where you will have the opportunity to dive into the deep crystal waters and explore the many sea caves, without annoying tightening of your swimsuit. Deep clear waters with strong alternating sand and pebble. On the back is the southern foothills of the White Mountains. Located in the southwestern part of Crete, east of Paliochoras. Access: Following from Chania the road to the gorge of Agia Irini and continuing south to Sougia. It is 67 km. From Chania.
Emerald, cold water on the beach of the homonymous city, but sometimes have numerous and strong currents. It is huge with golden sand, shallow waters and very good organization.
It is famous for the big sand hills and dunes that have been shaped and the crystal clear waters. The beach is affected by south winds, but not too much. The east part of the beach is traditionally occupied by nudists, but their number is decreasing in the last years.
The secluded beach is known as Menies and to the approach one has to go through a rough dirt road about 20 kilometers. Pebble beach, clear blue waters and usually little world. It is fairly sheltered and is not affected by the wind. Note there is no infrastructure so take with you the essentials. Access: By road, located 45 km northwest from Chania. Alternatively, you can take the boat from Platanias.
Almost circular beach with bright sand and good protection from the wind. Here they filmed the famous scenes of “Alexis Zorbas”. Sand and small pebbles alternate with partial organization. Access: You drive up to the northern tip of the Peninsula, 16 km southeast of Chania.
Great sandy beach with shady trees, palm trees and crystal clear waters. 200 meters from the coast is a small island, which you can reach by swimming. Ideal for families and has a shallow water and all amenities while when air arriving and surfers. Access: Located 12 km. North east of Chania, on the western coast of the Akrotiri peninsula.
The saying her name, a golden sandy beach that becomes even more golden by the sun, a breath away from the city of Chania. Essentially consists of two sandy beaches, separated by a small hill. The westernmost is the main beach, the one called Gold Coast, while the east is called Aptera. It has very good organization and facilities for water sports. Access: Easy access from Chania by bus or even
Beach and a few insiders, 4 km west of Sfakia. It is one of the most beautiful beaches of southern Crete, which is hidden between the mountains. named after the freshwater springs that flow adjacent to and in the sea. The beach is pebbled, with crystal blue waters. In 2003, the London Times had classified the 20 most beautiful beaches in Europe. Access: The only way to get here is by boat from Sfakia or bath
The beach Koutalis or Koutalas is located 25km east of Chania city, very close to the Cape Drepano and 1km north of Kokkino Chorio. The area is famous for the numerous fantastic caves, e.g. the Elephants’ Cave, Petsis Cave, etc. Kokkino Chorio is located near the Koutalis and is famous for the Second World War cavernous shelters built by the Germans in Drapanokefala hill to protect the bay of Souda, the picturesque traditional houses and a cluster of wells used to collect water. Moreover, here was filmed a part of the film “Zorba the Greek”. The beach Koutalis is quite isolated and is well known to most scuba divers of the area, as they usually start exploring the sea caves from here. The beach is formed at the exit of a rocky gorge and in the hug of a narrow bay. It has large round pebbles and stones. It is ideal for fishing and staying quite remote. Of course, make sure that you have all the necessities, such as umbrellas, food and water. To get here you should follow the road leading north from the village Kokkino Chorio to the Drepano Cape and then follow the road to Faros (Lighthouse). About 700m further north, you will see the sign to Koutalas. From there a passable dirt track leads directly on the beach. Perhaps, you’ll be totally alone. Next to the beach, there is a large cave.
The secluded beaches by village Anydri, also known as Gialiskari or Dialiskari, are surely some of the most beautiful beaches of West Crete. Gialiskari is located 4km east of Paleochora and 80km South of Chania city. The beaches are the easternmost part of the coastline of Paleochora, having an overall length of 18km.
Marathi hosts two beautiful beaches with fine sand and shallow calm water, ideal for children. They are very well protected from the winds, as they face to the south and have a nice view of Drapanos Cape and the White Mountains. The beaches are separated by a small pier, which also serves as a harbor for fishing boats and small ferries. It is well organized with all the necessary amenities nearby.
Loutraki has a very nice quiet beach with fine sand and crystal clear shallow waters, especially suitable for children. It is very well organized and provides all the common touristic amenities, under the deep tree shade on the beach. You can rent umbrellas, eat in the taverns of the area, rent rooms and enjoy various water sports.
Beach with dark pebbles raining the settlement right at the exit of Samaria Gorge. It has good organization waiting to refresh the tired walkers of the gorge. Located 56 km. South of Chania. Access: Access is only by boat from Sfakia, Loutro, the Palaiochora and Sougia while the more adventurous will get through the gorge of Samaria several hours later.
The beach is located on the homonymous island, northwest of the famous lagoon of Balos. The landscape with its crystal waters complements the fortress towering above it and the rusty wreck of a ship sunk many years ago. It is ideal for those who love snorkeling. Access: By your own vehicle or by bus from Chania to Kissamos port and from there by the excursion boats to Gramvousa and Balos.
The beach of Nea Hora is the closest beach to the city of Chania. With shallow waters suitable for children and organized tourist infrastructure, it is one of the favorite beaches of the residents of Chania since access can be done even on foot. The beach has infrastructure and accessibility for people with disabilities. Having an array of rocks 200 m range from the coast, the beach is totally sheltered from the bad weather and the wind. Just opposite the beach there are many taverns where visitors can taste fresh fish. Access: The approach to the beach of Nea Chora on foot, following the west coast road from the Venetian port of Chania, passing in front of the West Trench. Alternatively to the visit one can use taxis and private or rented cars or motorcycles.