Chania constituted the first capital of Crete and, over the years, managed to perpetuate its historical legacy, while the Venetian lighthouse became the town’s trademark. Moreover, it is the capital of the Chania regional unit and lies along the north-eastern coast of the island. This region is characterized by important commercial, economic and communication activities, mainly thanks to the Souda port as well as the airport which is located in Akrotiri area.
The town of Chania has a great number of historical buildings and monuments which show off the distinctive characteristics of different eras. The Minoan civilization offered us unique monumental tombs and ceramics, while the Venetian and Ottoman occupations left their deep signs in the town’s buildings. Finely decorative settlements, paved narrow streets, treasures of the Hellenistic -and not only- period, temples of imposing style, Turkish baths and mosques are few examples of the island’s rich history and monuments.
The Old Town constitutes undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Mediterranean districts. It is the most important landmark of this regional unit and raises the interest of each visitor. The existing settlements, which are located in the narrow streets of the Old Town, combine samples of these cultures that occupied the island of Crete for some periods. In addition, it is believed that Kasteli hill was inhabited since the Neolithic period. The city’s Muslim elements are more intense in Splatzia area, well-known for its plane tree in the square, the traditional taverns and the church of Agios Nikolaos.
In the coastal area, there are the Venetian dockyards and the big arsenal, which today host the Sailing Club of Chania and the Center of Mediterranean Architecture, respectively. In the same location, it is possible to take different tourist boats and go to the islands of Agioi Theodoroi. Moreover, some remarkable places are the Archaeological Museum of Chania, the “Macheradika” with a collection of traditional Cretan knifes and the Jewish quarter of the city with the local synagogue. Finally, the historical Fort Firka dominates in Chania port and today operates as a Nautical Museum. This is the place where the Greek flag was raised on September 1913 and this marked Crete’s union with the rest of Greece.
We leave behind the natural beauty of this place and we consider that the rich history and tradition of Chania were not an obstacle to the city’s intense night life. All along the city’s port there is a large variety of cafe, restaurants and taverns, while in the same region several cosmopolitan bars are open until the early morning hours, During the summer, the city as well as the whole district of Chania pulse with life and especially, places, such as Platanias and Agia Marina, are full of tourist facilities near the coastal areas. What is clear is that during the summer months Chania includes any type of entertainment and is attractive to tourists worldwide, while it constitutes one of the most famous tourist destination in Greece.
Chania offers many possibilities for the exploration of rare beauty’s mountainous areas and the lovers of natural landscapes as well as the water enthusiasts will enjoy not only the crystal clear blue water of organized and unspoiled beaches in the northern part of the district, but also the flora of its southern part. The crystal clear beaches in Elafonisi and Falasarna, the impressive White Mountains and the famous Samaria Gorge constitute some points of interest for different external activities and local events, because of the numerous tourist accommodations provided there. The ecological importance and the endemic species existed in the district are the main characteristics of Chania, while some of them are part of Natura 2000 Network. The lake Kournas distinguishes among others, because it is the unique freshwater lake in the whole island and helps the supply of drinking water in two regional units.
The closed ecosystem of the area has formed an important wetland and some indicative activities are the walk, the swimming and the quality food of the local taverns. In the north-western coastline of the regional unit, we meet Balos lagoon and the island of pirates, Gramvousa, where you can find beaches of unique beauty, while during the summer the local people offer relaxed and calm daily cruises.
Points of Interest
Τhe well-known medieval castle named Frangocastello is located In the southern part of Chania and near the village of Chora Sfakion. In this fortress a phenomenon called Drosoulites takes place during the spring and concerns the appearance of shadows, It is believed that these are the shadows of the rebels who lost their lives in the castle on May 1828 during the Greek War of Independence.
In contrast to the ruined castle and near Elafonisi area, the Chrysoskalitissa Monastery remains untouched over the years. Built on the top of a hill, the monastery continues its function for hundreds of years thanks to the hospitable monks. Each year, on 15th August, this place is full of visitors and the pilgrimage as regards the Dormition of Virgin Mary takes place. Moreover, another impressive monastery is Agia Triada, also known as the Monastery of Agia Triada Tsangarolon, which is situated in Akrotiri and is characterized by the unique beauty’s Renaissance architecture. Until today the monastery contributes substantially to the ecclesiastical, economic and charitable events of Chania and we should also mention its remarkable production of wine, oil and honey originated from its organic crops.