Address: Halidon, Old Town. This square is situated in front of the Church of the Trimartyri and was built in the 1950s on the former site of a complex of dilapidated wooden houses occupied by the city’s Christian community, many of which had been destroyed by fire in 1897 and the rubble not removed until some fifty years later. The square is now lined by cafes on its south side and features several statues of prominenant figures in Crete’s history including Anaghnostis Mantakas, the nineteenth century libertation fighter and Ecumenical Pariarch Athinagoras I, the Patriarch of Constantinople from 1948 to 1972 after whom the square is named.
2. Church of the Trimartyri
Address: Esodion and Halidon, Old Town. The Greek Orthodox Cathedral Church of Chania, also referred to as the Church of the Trimartyri, is one of Chania’s most recognizable landmarks situated in front of the Plateia Mitropoleos. It is a three-aisled basilica with a pointed-barrel roof, a campanile in its northwest corner and a facade composed of dressed pillars, cornices and door and window frames. This modest Neoclassical church is dedicated to the Virgin of the Three Martyrs, the patron saint of Chania and was constructed between 1857 and 1860 on the site of a Venetian church which the Ottoman Turks later converted into a soap factory. Legend claims that an icon of the Presentation of the Virgin was secretly kept in the factory’s storeroom. In the early to mid-nineteenth century, the Virgin miraculously appeared before one of the factory workers, informing him that she did not want her ‘house’ to be a soap factory and in fear, the worker fled with the icon. Soon afterwards, as the legend continues, the child of the factory owner, Mustapha Naili Pasha, fell into a well behind the church and in despair, Mustapha Pasha prayed to the Virgin to save his child in return for which he would donate to the town’s Christians, the soap factory and the funds to construct a church. In answering his prayers, the Virgin saved the child and as a result, the site was bequeathed to the Christian community for the construction of a new church, at the same time as the worker returned the icon of the Presentation of the Virgin.
3. Old Turkish Hamam
Address: Sarpaki and Halidon 33, Old Town. Located on the corner of Halidon and Sarpaki Streets, this building, now a clothes shop, features eleven small hemispherical domes and a partially obscured larger dome on its roof and originally served as one of three public hamams or steam bathes built by the Ottoman Turks in Chania (the others being on Katri and Zambeliou Streets). The structure was surrounded by a portico that was leveled during the week-long German bombardment in 1941. The hamam, itself, was erected on the site of the Venetian Nunnery of the Franciscan Order of St. Clara which is referenced in a number of early maps and written sources as one of three convents established by the Venetians in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, next to a large city water cistern. It was destroyed by the devastating earthquake of 1595 when, according to the first-hand testimony of Venetian physician, Onorio Belli, its campanile came into direct contact with the campanile in the Monastery of St. Francis opposite.
4. Roman Catholic Church
Address: Halidon 46, Old Town. Entered by the vaulted passageway on Halidon Street, Chania’s Roman Catholic Church complex dates to the mid to late nineteenth century and comprises a small seminary or collage that originally served as the first girl’s school in Chania, established in the late 1860s, as well the Church of St. Mary consecrated in 1870, and a pretty courtyard with a statue of St. Francis of Assisi standing in the centre. Don’t Miss: Holy Mass on Saturdays 19:00 and Sundays 10:00. Easter and Christmas Services
5. Folklore Musum of Chania (Cretan House)
Address: Halidon 46b, Old Town. Phone: +30 2821090816. Hours of Operation: Monday- Saturday 09:00-15:00, 18:00-21:00 (closed Sundays). Admission: €2. The Cretan House Folklore Museum replicates a traditional nineteenth century Cretan house through its display of conventional household items, embroidered cloths and tapestries and customary crafts equipment including a loom.
6. Archaeological Museum of Chania (formerly the Venetian Monastery of St. Francis)
Address: Halidon 25, Old Town. Phone: +30 2821090334. Email: email@example.com Website: www.interkriti.org; www.chania.gr/en/city Hours of Operation: 08:30- 15:00 (closed Mondays). Admission: €2 (reduced €1) Special ticketing package for the Archaeological and the Byzantine Museum of Chania: €3. The Archaeological Museum of Chania was established in 1962 on the premises of the former Venetian Monastery of the Church of St. Francis, once the largest and grandest of the twenty-three Catholic churches built by the Venetians in Chania. The building’s construction dates to the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries (with early 18th century Turkish modifications), although historical records show that the monastery, or parts of it, remained intact following the 1595 earthquake. Today, this extensively restored building represents one of the finest examples of Venetian ecclesiastical architecture in Crete with three vaulted naves and finely-dressed Gothic-style windows and entrance. Like most other churches in Chania, both Greek Orthodox and Catholic, the monastery was converted into the Yusaf Pasha Mosque in the mid-seventeenth century following the Turkish invasion of Chania, from which an octagonal fountain for ceremonial washing can still be seen in the small garden alongside the museum. At the turn of the twentieth century, the site served as Chania’s first “Idaion Andron” cinema and theatre and then as a storage facility for military equipment from WWII to 1962. The Archaeological Museum currently exhibits collections of pottery, inscribed tablets, vases, glassware, jewelry, coins, sculpture, sarcophagi and mosaics all dating from the Neolithic to the Byzantine periods, but with an emphasis on Minoan and Graeco-Roman material, recovered from numerous excavations across west Crete including Kydonia, Idramia, Aptera, Polyrenia, Kissamos and Lissos.
7. Old Venetian Town Hall
Address: Halidon and Zambeliou, Old Town. This building, partially hidden by scaffolding, was Chania’s original town hall built by the Venetians sometime in the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries. Here, members of the great Venetian noble families such as the Tsangarolis, Faliers and Renieris, Chania’s ruling elite, congregated together to discuss the affairs of the day. It was also used as a small military hospital during the Ottoman Turkish period and as the city’s official town hall between 1898 and 1928 when Chania-born Eleftherios Venizelos, Greece’s most well-known politician and Prime Minister, periodically spoke to the assembled crowds below from the balcony. The town hall remained remarkably intact and in use until WWII when it was bombed by the Germans during a week-long blitzkrieg of Chania in 1941.
8. Plateia Sintrivani (Harbour Square)
Address: Akti Koundourioti and Karaoli-Dimitriou, Venetian Harbour. Also referred to as Harbour Square, Sintrivani Square is encircled by cafes, restaurants and souvenir shops with the harbour, itself, opening up immediately to the north. The focal point of the square is an unremarkable marble fountain that replaced its Venetian predecessor that brought water from the Perivolia Springs five km away, and which is now housed in the garden of the Archaeological Museum. The term “Sintrivani” sounds Italian, but it is an apparently Turkish word meaning “fountain”. For centuries, a number of smaller fountains were incorporated into the facades of many public and private buildings including the Venetian Town hall, as well as the warehouses and cafes around the port, especially during the Ottoman Turkish period. Until the 1950s, Sintrivani Square was the center of Chania life, a place where public gatherings took place and where ships entered the harbour and passengers and goods disembarked. The area was also used as a large informal outdoor theatre where epic poems were regularly performed.
9. Karaoli-Dimitriou to Sifaka Street
10. Byzantine Wall
Address: Karaoli-Dimitriou and Sifaka, Macharadika. Following the course of Karaoli-Dimitriou and Sifaka Streets are the impressive remains of the city’s former Byzantine fortification wall which dates to the tenth century AD and which was built on earlier Hellenistic foundations. For centuries, this defense wall enclosed the city’s acropolis or citadel where Chania’s (or Kydonia as it was then known) administration, mercantile center and wealthy neighborhoods were located from the Hellenistic through to the Ottoman Turkish periods. All of the city’s important public and private buildings were to be found on this fortified hill now called Kastelli including the Venetian Rector’s Palace (housing also the Venetian administation’s Archives and Treasury), the Cathedral (Duomo) of Santa Maria, the Dominican Convent of Our Lady of the Miracles, as well as many wealthy private residences. Archaeologists agree that this wall was constructed soon after the short-lived Arab occupation of Crete (824- 961 AD) and the re-instatement of Byzantine around the island. Here, the Byzantines rebuilt and re-strengthened the city’s pre-existing defenses after Arab settlers from Andalusia in Spain and Alexandria in Egypt invaded Crete following a period of widespread neglect from Constantinople. They controlled the island for well over a century, using Crete as a base from which to launch pirate attacks and raids around the Greek islands and Greek mainland. After several unsuccessful attempts, the Byzantines re-conquered Crete in 961 AD following a bloody siege at the Khandak fortress in Heraklion (then called Khandax)and set about strengthening the city’s defenses by robbing and re-using all of the available building materials from the existing Hellenistic and Graeco-Roman structures around the city to erect a new defensive wall around the city (then confined to Kastelli). This explanation accounts for the marble and limestone fluted column drums, pilasters, architrave blocks with attachment tenons and large rectangular ashlar blocks, all the remains of palaces, temples and public buildings from every period up to this date which are visible in the wall. In recent years, the Greek Archaeological Service has been been undergoing an extensive ongoing conservation project to preserve the wall, and to expose its earlier Hellenistic foundations on which this wall is built which date to the third century BC.
11. Kanevaro Street (formerly the Corso)
Address: Kanevaro, Kastelli. Kanevaro Street runs in an east-west direction through the Kastelli neighborhood and was once the main and most important thoroughfare in the city during the Venetian and Ottoman Turkish periods. As the most elevated point in Chania with views of the coast and the Lefka Ori mountains behind, Kastelli had been an ideal site for settlement since the Neolithic period (about 4000 BC), and its in Kastelli that we find the archaeological evidence for a burgeoning city centre particularly between 3000 BC and 1400 BC, with the foundations of Bronze Age Minoan Kydonia a major attraction on this street. In addition to the Minoan ruins, Kanevaro, previously called the Corso, was one of Chania’s busiest streets, together with Halidon from the Venetian period onwards. The Corso was lined with important public buildings, as well as two-storey “archontika”, the mansions of noble Venetian and later, Turkish Cretan families, many of them two to three stories high and some with gardens, alongside commercial businesses. It remained this way until 1941 when most of Kastelli was leveled by the German bombing of the city or subsequently destroyed by fire as a result of this event.
12. Venetian Rector’s Palace, Archives and Treasury
Address: Lithinon 47-51, Kastelli. The Venetian Rector’s Palace at the end of Lithinon Street dates to the early seventeenth century and served several functions, namely, the residence of the Venetian Rector, and the Treasury and Archives for the island’s Venetian administration. The ground floor and part of the upper floor of the palazzo (as it was called in historical sources and maps of the period) survive, much modified in the Ottoman Turkish period, along with the adjacent vaulted passageway leading to an enclosed courtyard. On approaching the main facade of this building on Lithinon, several unusual architectural elements are immediately discernible to the visitor. The dressed doorway and the overlying window openings of the building appear to have been shifted to the right and are set away from the relieving arch above, principally to accommodate an internal staircase when the property was converted in later times. The Latin inscription above this doorway states: “On the instructions of the government, the Archive was built with an imposing form in the year of our Lord 1624”. The Anno Domini appears to be out of place, usually positioned before the date and not after the date as in the case of this particular inscription which suggests that the whole entrance was dismantled and then re-positioned out-of-place following Turkish modifications to the building. Walking through the vaulted passageway to the right of the main facade, visitors come to an enclosed courtyard surrounded by private residences. On the left-hand side is the original Treasury of the Venetian administration, an important building as evidenced by its grand and richly decorated doorway typical of the then-popular Venetian Mannerist style. Here, the doors are made of wood, the favored material used by the Ottoman Turks and are most likely original. In the middle of these doors is a small Hand of Fatima door knocker, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, and a symbol appropriated from Turkey and Egypt together with the Evil Eye and Hamsa, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. These door knockers adorn many houses in the Old Town and are used to ward off bad luck and evil spirits. Incidentally, the Turkish Government Building, also the residence of the pasha, was erected in the same area a few metres to the north of this complex between 1845 to 1850, but was destroyed by fire in 1897.
13. Ayias Ekaterinis Square
Address: Kanevaro 29, Kastelli. Ayias Ekaterinis Square is located in the middle of Kanevaro Street. For centuries, this square marked the site of the Dominican Catholic Church of Santa Maria, also known as the Duomo (itself built on top of the foundations of a large Early Christian Byzantine basilica) that was surrounded by various ecclesiastical buildings including the residence of the Archbishop of Chania. Like most churches, the Duomo was converted into the Musa Pasha mosque during the Ottoman Turkish occupation and later, functioned as a state-owned warehouse. During the week-long German bombardment in 1941, all structures in this area were flattened and the rubble not cleared away until the 1950s. Out of this rubble appeared pottery sherds that were subsequently identified as Minoan. On the basis of this pottery, together with a number of references in several early Classical sources including Homer’s the Odyssey and Aristotle’s Book of Politics that refer to the “Minoan city of Kydonia…..the mother of all Cretan cities”, archaeologists believed this site to be Minoan Kydonia. The square was excavated in the 1960s by a Greek-Swedish team, revealing a suite of rectilinear-shaped houses dating to the Late Minoan I Period (also called the New Palace Period) at around 1600 to 1100 BC. These structures exhibit fairly sophisticated design and construction techniques including flagstone paving on the floors, multiple rooms with internal door frames, a stone staircase leading to a second story and monumental entrances with large ashlar blocks at the thresholds. The houses also look out onto narrow, winding paved streets much like the streets in other parts of the Old Town today. Similarly-designed houses in the Minoan sites, Knossos, Mallia and Phaistos, have been found flanking the palaces of the Minoan kings and for this reason, it has been concluded that these structures were the residences of courtiers and aristocrats who lived in close proximity to the grand palace. While these remains date to around 1600 BC, archaeological evidence suggests that many of the houses were altered in the period post-dating 1600-1450 BC (called the Minoan Post-Palatian Period) after a catastrophic event, most likely the volcanic eruption on the nearby island of Thera (Santorini), precipitated the gradual decline of the Minoan civilization on Crete.
14. Dominican Nunnery of Santa Maria Dei Miracoli
Address: Aghiou Markou 16, Kastelli. On nearby Aghiou Markou Street are the remains of the Nunnery of Our Lady of the Miracles designed by Marussa Mengano in 1615 for the Dominican nuns of Chania. Although this complex today lies partly in ruin with another section incorporated into a private property, now a boutique hotel, some of the covered passageway, as well as a row of cloistered arches and paved arcade still survive. To the north of the cloister is an enclosed courtyard and garden that utilizes some of the eastern Byzantine defense wall which was no longer in use when the convent was built. Adjacent to this convent was a large aisleless Venetian-built church (called a Katholikon) dedicated to Santa Maria of the Miracles with a gently curving, pointed-barrel roof. All that remains today is the south wall of the nave and part of the curving roof, and several niches. Later Turkish alterations to these buildings are apparent in the blocking up of particular openings and the overlaying of arches under and above the earlier Venetian ones when the church was converted to a mosque. The convent and church were partly demolished following the aerial bombardment in 1941 and then again in the 1950s in keeping with the arrangements of the new town plan.
15. Turkish Government Building
Address: Plateia Aghiou Titou, Kastelli. At the end of Aghiou Markou Street is an imposing and well-preserved structure originally built as a prison and guard-house that formed part of the Ottoman Turkish Government Building and residence of the Pasha. It is now owned by the Polytechnic University of Crete.
16. New Government House
Address: Plateia Aghiou Titou, Kastelli. Immediately to the west of the Turkish prison and guard-house on Plateia Aghiou Titou is another building owned by the Polytechnic University of Crete that stands in front of an open car-park area offering one of the best panoramic views of Chania’s Old Town. Despite its dilapidated state, this building has an elegant and grand Neoclassical appearance that seems befitting given its former use as the New Government House erected in 1898 by the “Great European Powers” of France, Britain and Russia who briefly oversaw the governance of Crete following the expulsion of the Ottoman Turks in 1898. It was erected next to the site of the large Turkish Government Building, the wooden ‘Konaki” that served as the administrative offices and residence of the pasha until it was burnt down in 1897/98 and which stood where the car park is now located.
17. Venetian Donkey Steps
Address: Plateia Aghiou Titou, Kastelli/Venetian Harbour. Leading from the Plateia Aghiou Titou in Kastelli down to the Venetian harbour-front, Akti Tombazi, are a set of wide stone steps which were built for a very specific purpose. The Venetians specifically designed these steps not for humans, but for donkeys. All of the steps are double-width so the donkey could place all four legs up onto one step before moving on. The steps are also made of granite chippings to prevent the donkeys from slipping, while the edges of the steps are encased in white limestone so that the donkeys (and humans) could easily see the risers in the dark.
18. Center of Mediterranean Architecture (formerly the Venetian Great Arsenal)
Address: Akti Tombazi 31, Katehaki Square, Venetian Harbour. Phone: +30 28210 40101/40201. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://www.kam-arsenali.gr/ Hours of Operation: Open only during periodic exhibitions. Admission: Free. Immediately to the east of the Venetian donkey steps is large a two-story building originally forming the end unit of a terrace of Venetian-built arsenali or dry-docks. This edifice is known as the Great Arsenal, the largest of the Venetian dry-docks and has been extensively altered many times since its construction in the sixteenth century. Like many Venetian buildings in Chania, it was modified firstly by the Turks who cut off its barrel-vaulted roof, and then again in the late nineteenth century when an upper storey was added after which the building became a Christian school and then the Town Hall from 1928 to 1941. The Grand Arsenal was partly destroyed by the aerial bombardment in 1941 and it has only been completely restored as the Center of Mediterranean Architecture since 1997.
19. The Venetian Arsenali (Ta Neoria)
Address: Akti Enoseos, Venetian Harbour. Seven Venetian-built arsenali or dry-docks line the main eastern basin of the harbour, of which there were originally seventeen. These long, contiguous vaulted arsenali, fifty meters in length and ten meters in height, were constructed between 1461 and 1599 for the purposes of shipbuilding and ship repairs for the Eastern Mediterranean Venetian fleet during the winter months. The buildings were open-ended with the sea reaching the entrances so that the ship could be pulled up from out of the water into the sheds and worked on under cover. The main entrance to the complex of arsenali was located at the end of Daskaloyianni Street where the west half of the imposing doorway still survives. Another two arsenali known as the Moro docks were constructed in 1607 at the north-east end of the harbor next to the Sabbionara bastion. Most fell into a state of disrepair during the Ottoman Turkish period and others destroyed by the German bombing in 1941.
20. Minoan Ship
Address: Moro Dock, Venetian Harbour. Phone: +30 2821091875. Hours of Operation: May- October Monday- Friday 10:00- 15:00, 19:00- 22:30 (closed public holidays). Admission: Free. In this refurbished Venetian-built arsenal, the Moro dock, is a reconstructed fifteenth century BC Minoan ship, the Minoa, as part of an exhibition on ancient navigation. The Moro docks are two dry-docks named after the Venetian General Overseer of the time who proposed their construction in 1607. During WWII, the Moro docks were used to accommodate Italian prisoners of war and for this reason alone, they were spared damage caused by the German bombing in 1941.
21. The Harbour Wall and San Nicolo Bastion
Address: Venetian Harbour. Extending westwards from the Moro Docks is the harbour wall or jetty that the Venetians initially began building between 1320 and 1356 on the existing rocks and reefs in the sea to provide protection for the harbour from the strong north winds and from approaching enemy ships. In the middle of this harbor wall is the Agios Nikolaos or San Nicolo bastion that was added to the harbour wall in 1515 to guard the entrance of the harbour along with the Firkas Fortress opposite. This small bastion or tower was named after the aisleless, barrel-vaulted church of the same name that is still apparently preserved beneath the earth despots. In 1645, the Turks used the bastion as a repository for cannons and cannon balls, as well as a place of execution or gallows. In 1945, the building was converted into a shipyard for traditional wooden boats and since the 1980s as a restaurant now closed.
22. Mosque of the Janissaries (Yali-Tzamisi Mosque)
Address: Akti Tombazi/Koundourioti, Venetian Harbour. Phone: +30 2821083235/83232. Hours of Operation: open only during periodic exhibitions. Admission: Free. The Mosque of the Janissaries (also called Kucuk Hassan or Yali Mosque) is the oldest Islamic structure in Crete. The Janissaries were the Turkish soldiers stationed in Chania and elsewhere around the island assigned to keep law and order following the Turkish conquest of Crete. Rather than being merely soldiers or policemen, they were the Christian sons captured from conquered countries between the fourteenth and early nineteenth centuries often described as “door servants” or “slaves”. This mosque was built in 1645 on the site of a small Venetian church dedicated to San Nicolo so that the Janissaries had a place to pray. The central dome is part of the original construction and the porticoes, as well as four of the smaller domes, are of nineteenth century typical Neoclassical design. The flying buttresses are later additions. For centuries, a fine minaret stood in the southwest corner of the mosque (dismantled in the 1930s), alongside an enclosed courtyard containing palm trees and the graves of prominent Turkish officials, both of which were destroyed by the German bombing in 1941. The building has not functioned as a mosque since 1923 and this site has, at various times, been used as a cafe, museum, a tourist information office and more recently, as an exhibition space.
23. The Venetian Harbour
Address: Akti Koundourioti (formerly the Colombo Promenade), Venetian Harbour. While the eastern basin of the harbour was designed specifically for the purpose of boat building and repairs, the west basin served as the port where imported goods were unloaded, stacked along the harbour-front and then transported by donkey to the ground floors of various warehouses lining the harbour-side. The Venetian Navy built Chania’s harbour between 1320 and 1643, despite the fact that this location was not particularly suitable due to its exposure to the strong north winds. Because of this issue, the east basin tended to silt up as a result of rainwater and sewers. Official reports to the Government in Venice frequently allude to the need to dredge and deepen the harbour basin and in fact, for a time, Chania’s harbour was abandoned altogether in favour of the port in Heraklion since Rethymnon’s port also faced continual problems of a similar nature. Notwithstanding these obstacles, the Venetians set out to make the docks and harbour of Chania the finest in the eastern Mediterranean, its port an outlet for a prosperous agricultural hinterland and its harbour an important center for trade. The west basin of the harbour was lined by warehouses where goods brought into Chania by ship were stored. The goods were packed inside these warehouses on the ground floor where a stable for the donkey and its fodder was also provided. Accommodation for sailors and traders was usually on the upper stories of these warehouses. By the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the importance of the harbour diminished as large ships which had previously anchored outside the harbour began to use the deep, natural harbour in Souda Bay.
Address: Venetian Harbour. The Faros lighthouse is the oldest existing lighthouse in Greece and was constructed by the Venetian Navy to protect Chania’s harbour and dry-docks at the turn of the sixteenth century. All that remains of the original Venetian construction is its base that contains a recess where the emblem of Venice, the Lion of St. Mark, was once placed. It is no co-incidence that the lighthouse bares a close resemblance to the minaret of a mosque. In the early nineteenth century, the lighthouse collapsed in a storm following years of neglect by the Turks. The structure was later re-designed and rebuilt between 1824 and 1832 by Egyptian soldiers stationed around the island during a brief period (1821-1841) when Crete was ceded by the Ottoman Turks to Mehmet Ali, the ruler of Egypt. What we see today is a now restored lighthouse, approximately twenty meters in height that, until recently, was leaning badly as a result of the aerial bombardment of 1941 and by numerous earthquakes that are common in this part of the world.
25. Maritime Museum of Crete (Firkas Fortress)
Address: Akti Koundourioti, Venetian Harbour. Phone: +30 2821091875/74484. Website: http://www.mar-mus-crete.gr/eng/engindex.html Hours of Operation: 09:00-16:00 (1/4- 31/10); 09:00- 14:00 (1/11- 31/3). Admission: Free. Established in 1973 in the former Firkas Fortress, this maritime museum once housed the barracks of the Venetian naval garrison to Chania with storehouses for military equipment and large underground water cisterns situated in the central open courtyard. This fortress, itself, was designed and built in 1620 by the Overseer of Chania, Alvise Bragadin, and its layout derives from typical Roman fort and garrison plans that incorporated two levels of rooms encircling a central courtyard or parade area that were used for both the living quarters and for storage. Although much abraded due to the soft limestone, the details of a finely-carved doorway leading to the residence of the Venetian Provident on the second level are still discernible. The interesting feature about this doorway is that the Lion of St. Mark remains above the door and has not been dismantled, defaced or replaced when the Turks subsequently used the building as a barracks and then as a prison for Cretan liberation fighters in the nineteenth century. The museum itself has a number of noteworthy exhibits on display including maquettes of Venetian Chania, old maps, marine instruments, photos of warships alongside an exhibition on the history of Greek shipping and importantly, the Battle of Crete.
26. Firkas Tower
Address: Akti Koundourioti, Venetian Harbour. Admission: Free. The small observation tower on the northeast corner of the Firkas Fortress is considered to be one of Crete’s most “sacred” and significant places. This tower also takes its name from the Turkish word for barracks, “firkas” and it is here that the Greek flag was raised for the first time on Crete on 1st December, 1913 by Prime Minister Venizelos, together with King Constantine of Greece, an event since celebrated every year. This ceremony marked the end of successive invasions and occupations of Crete over many centuries by foreign powers and finally, the end of struggle, resistance and the fight for independence and the start of long sought-after independence and “enosis” or union with mainland Greece. What led to this event was an almost continuous resistance throughout the nineteenth century by locals against an increasingly corrupt and despotic Turkish rule. Outside of the complex along the northern face of the fortress are a number of arched openings at ground level. These openings mark the position of cannons intended by the Venetians to prevent enemy ships from entering the harbour. Just above these arched openings are small rectangular openings that are now blocked up, but which served as sighting holes so that the trajectory of the cannon could be raised or lowered. These cannons were placed at sea level because they were aimed at the galleys of ships and it was essential that the cannon ball hit the boat at waterline. As a further defense tactic, the Venetians placed a large chain that they could pull across the harbour entrance from the lighthouse to the Firkas Tower to thwart ships from entering the harbour. Don’t Miss: Celebrations marking Crete’s union with mainland Greece on 1st December.
27. Venetian Fortification Walls
Address: Old Town. Further along past the Firkas Fortress to the west is part of the northern boundary wall of the Venetian-built fortification system that, for a time, enclosed Chania in a roughly rectangular form for a distance of six kilometers. Construction of the city’s defenses began in 1538 following a design by well-known Italian military architect and engineer, Michele Sanmicheli, and was carried out by compulsory peasant labor under wretched conditions over the next twelve years. The massive fortification walls were reinforced on all four sides by four main heart-shaped bastions (baloardi) with subsidiary bastions (cavalieri) and small gates surrounded by a moat, sixty-one meters wide and fifteen meters deep that was never filled in. The walls were twenty-one meters high and set at a slight incline of exactly twenty degrees so that cannonballs could ricochet off of the walls, while ladders could be pushed away from the projecting corbel course above in the event of a siege. These walls were built from dressed limestone ashlars transported by sea from the quarry of Stavros in Akrotiri, as well as stones robbed from the last remaining Roman stadium and theater in Chania. The Venetians fended off outside attacks in spite of a number of deficiencies in the overall design (including the too-narrow width of the moat) that were frequently referred to in official reports requesting Venice to put them right until the two month siege of Chania by the Turks in 1645. Once Chania fell into Turkish hands as a result of these weaknesses in the town’s defenses, the city was used by the Turks as a base from which to conquer the rest of Crete. Don’t Miss: The well-preserved west wall and moat.
28. Western Wall and Moat
Address: Topanas and Kryo Vrysali. The western section of the Venetian fortification system extends from the San Salvatore bastion in the north to Agios Dimitrius’ bastion (also called San Schiavo or Lando) to the south. It remains the best- preserved part of the overall defense works, despite a breach in the wall at Meletiou Piga Street and the south section of the moat which has since been filled in. The west wall and moat received heavy bombardment in 1645 during the two month siege of Chania by the Turks when 40,000 Turkish soldiers lost their lives.
29. Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Collection (formerly the Venetian Monastery and Church of San Salvatore)
Address: Theotokopoulou 82, Topanas. Phone: +30 2821096046. Hours of Operation: Mondays 13:00- 19:30, Tuesday-Sunday 08:30- 19:30 – Admission: €2 (reduced: €1 ) Special ticketing package for the Archaeological and the Byzantine Museum of Chania: € 3. Description: The Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Collection is housed in the former church of the Franciscan Monastery of San Salvatore built on the west side of the Firkas Fortress between the fifteenth to mid-seventeenth centuries. The monastery was, in large part, razed in 1941 and the church altered many times, especially in the late seventeenth century when it was converted, like most churches in Chania, into the Aga Tzamisi mosque. The church is of particular interest as a well-known British traveler, William Lithgow, sought sanctuary here in 1609 having helped a slave to escape from one of Venetian naval ships. Lithgow spent the night in the church and later observed in his diary that “Chania is like a large castle with its fortification walls containing some ninety-seven palaces in which the Rector and the Venetian gentlemen dwell”. Lithgow is no doubt referring to the numerous Venetian “archontika” or luxurious two to three-storey mansions also located in this neighborhood which represent some of the best examples of Late Venetian urban architecture in Crete. This small, but neatly organized collection consists of icons, wall paintings, mosaic fragments, pottery, coins and sculpture all arranged in chronological order and clearly labeled for the visitor.
30. Venetian Magazine Store
Address: Theotokopoulou 65, Topanas. This rectangular, vaulted stone building is of Venetian origin, but like many structures, was altered in the Ottoman Turkish period when the sloping roof was removed and the walls raised to accommodate a parapet and flat roof and numerous openings at both ground and first floor levels added. Originally, this building served as a magazine or storeroom where cannons and gun powder was stored. This magazine gave its Turkish name, Top Hane, meanings guns and canons, to the whole area which is now called Topanas. From the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries onwards, Topanas was a predominantly Christian neighborhood of wealthy aristocrats, merchants and traders and, for a time, the location of the European consulates until their move to the district of Halepa in the late nineteenth century. The building is now used as a conservation laboratory for antiquities.
31. Angelou Street
Address: Angelou 16-18, Topanas. Angelou Street connects Theotokopoulou Street to the west with the harbor-front, Akti Koundourioti, to the east and lies directly behind the Firkas Fortress. This narrow street features some fine examples of the Venetian-built, multi-storey mansions characteristic of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in particular. The main three-storey building on the north side of this street (Angelou 16-18) retains all the architectural elements favored by the Venetians in their bid to recreate their own city through town planning and architecture, and with the same standards of hygiene and comforts that they were used to previously. These idiosyncratic architectural hallmarks include the well-proportioned and finely-dressed window and door openings, the external walls that are always usually plastered and painted, the ornate metal grilles above the doors, the circular occuli windows, the carved stone corbels, balcony slabs and columns with Corinthian capitals supporting the double-arched window heads and the overall angular and well-proportioned appearance of the building. While these architectural facets are fundamentally Venetian, the Ottoman Turkish influence can also be seen in other nearby buildings with the timber hai-arti, the projecting, second-floor wooden facades that were originally latticed, therefore allowing cool air to filter through the upper floors, and most importantly, to allow Muslim women to look down on the street below and to watch events without being seen.
32. Casa Delfino Hotel
Address: Theofanous 9, Topanas. Phone: +30 2821087400. Email: email@example.com Website: http://www.casadelfino.com/ The Casa Delfino Hotel is a former seventeenth century Venetian palazzo or mansion that was bought by a Genoese ship-owner and merchant, Giovanni Delfino, in the mid-nineteenth century for his family following their arrival in Crete. Generations of Delfinos continued to inhabit the property until WWII when the mansion suffered considerable damage and was abandoned altogether. It was not until the late 1980s that new family members began to restore the former family home by converting the building into the luxurious hotel and spa that it is today.
33. Renieri Gate and Agios Nikolaos Chapel
Address: Theofanous, Topanas. Further along Theofanous Street is the Palazzo di Pietro (also called the Palazzo Renieri), the former residence of the Venetian aristocratic Renieri family. Although the palace complex, as a whole, has not survived intact, both its monumental gate and private chapel remain well-preserved. The small family chapel is a single nave structure with a barrel-vaulted ceiling on which traces of wall paintings are visible, and which is connected to the adjacent main building through a side entrance. The church is dedicated to Agios Nikolaos or San Nicolo and most likely dates to the early to mid-sixteenth century. Passing through what was originally the main arched entrance to the palace, the Renieri Gate prominently features an entablature with the Renieri family crest or coat of arms, as well as a Latin inscription which states: “Our sweet father suffered, achieved and studied much and toiled and perspired. May eternal peace cover him.1608. Ides of January”.
34. Zambeliou Street (the Old Jewish Neighborhood, Evraiki)
Address: Zambeliou, Evraiki (or Ovraiki). Zambeliou Street runs in an east-west direction through the former Jewish neighborhood, Evraiki, behind the harbor-front, Akti Koundourioti. A few sites of interest can be found on this narrow artery including the Roka family weaving shop whose members produce traditional rugs, kilims and rucksacks called ‘sakoulia’ using only natural materials and spinning the yarn an a 400 year old loom. Close by on the corner of Duka and Zambeliou Streets is the site of a former Venetian palazzo or mansion. The exterior wall is Venetian in origin with its typically well-proportioned, square-shaped window openings that have been filled in by the Turks who also added some elegant round-headed windows, an upper storey and six large hemispherical domes to convert this building into perhaps the largest of the three public hamams or steam baths in Chania. While a significant part of this building remains closed to the public, the other part is now the Tamam restaurant. Further along Zambeliou on the corner of Skoufon Street is a small shop that was initially a double-aisled Venetian church dedicated to St. John the Theologian, and then later converted into the Mehmet Aga mosque. On its south side of this former church and mosque is a partially preserved six-sided Turkish fountain-house for ceremonial washing. Around this area are the ruins of former multi-storey Venetian mansions, often with the family crest displayed prominently on the facades, while on the north side of Zambeliou are the numerous Venetian warehouses lining the harbor-front.
35. Kondylaki Street (the Old Jewish Neighborhood, Evraiki)
Address: Kondylaki, Evraiki (Ovraiki). Kondylaki Street extends from the harbor-front, Akti Koundourioti, to Agios Dimitrius’ bastion (also called San Schiavo or Lando) to the south. Unlike other streets in the Old Town, Kondylaki is relatively wide and straight, presumably laid out this way by the Venetians to allow donkey carts to transport imported goods, foodstuffs, as well as weapons and cannonballs from the harbour to the city’s southern ramparts. Chania’s Jewish community occupied this area around Portou, Zambeliou and Kondylaki Streets for centuries, a locale known as Zudecca, Chania’s Jewish ghetto. Here, they produced all kinds of goods like kosher cheeses, wines, and soap and were engaged in money-lending, together with the trade of leather, silks, dyes and metals for both export and local use. Central to this community were its two synagogues, the Beth Shalom and Kal Kadosh Etz Hayyim, although only the Etz Hayyim survives today. Chania’s Romaniote and Sephardic Jews lived in Zudecca for over three hundred years, although the community dwindled considerably by the nineteenth and twentieth centuries due to steady migration from Crete to mainland Greece, Palestine, America and beyond. By WWII, life for Chania’s Jews had become increasingly intolerable and in May 1944, the entire Jewish community of 270 registered men, women and children, were rounded up either in the small square at the southern end of Kondylaki or put in trucks along the harbour-front and incarcerated in the nearby Ayas prison for fifteen days before being transported to Heraklion. Here, they were put on the ship, the “Tannais”, to be deported to Europe’s concentration camps, along with six hundred Greek and Italian prisoners of war. All onboard perished when the ship was mistakenly sunk off the island of Milos by two torpedoes launched from a British U-boat submarine on its way to Athens. Soon after the deportation of Chania’s Jews, their neighborhood was ransacked first by German soldiers and then by poor local Christian neighbours, and the Etz Hayyim synagogue stripped of all its religious artifacts, desecrated, re-occupied by local squatters until the late 1950s and then left derelict as a place for neighbourhood rubbish, chickens and dogs until the mid-1990s.
36. Kal Kadosh Etz Hayyim Synagogue
Address: Parodos Kondylaki, Evraiki. Phone: +30 2821086286. Email: info@etz-hayyim-hania-org Website: http://www.etz-hayyim-hania.org/ Hours of Operation: 1/4- 14/10 Monday- Friday 10:00- 18:00 (daily prayer times for Shahrith and Kabbala Shabbath and Havdalah are announced weekly on the Bulletin Board at the entrance). Admission: €2 donation. About halfway up Kondylaki is a small lane leading to the Etz Hayyim Synagogue which was once the principal centre of Jewish religious and cultural life in Chania. The building itself dates to fourteenth century and was once the Venetian Church of St. Catherine that was destroyed during the large-scale pirate attack of the city led by Barbarossa in 1538. The Ottoman Turks subsequently gave the ruined church building to the Jews of Zudecca for their place of worship in the seventeenth century, although there is some dispute about this date and the implications for the dating of the synagogue, itself. The name “Etz Hayyim” means ‘Tree of Life” in Hebrew, and the Hebrew inscription above the main entrance to the complex, the Rothschild Gate,” states: “blessed are the just…” from the Book of Isaiah. The layout of the synagogue is typical of Romaniote synagogues in Greece. The building comprises a large rectangular hall inside of which the Eihal (a wooden Ark containing the Scrolls of the Law) is placed against the east wall and the Beema (a large pulpit) on the west wall. The main hall is flanked by two courtyards to the north and south which were once roofed and included upper gallery spaces for women called “mehitsah”. The southern courtyard, now known as the Lauder Garden, contains the tombs of four rabbis dating to the 18th and 19th centuries, and a mikvah bath, while the northern courtyard is now dedicated to the “Friends of Etz Hayyim”. This synagogue was rebuilt in the mid-1990s after being placed on the 100 Most Endangered Monuments List prepared by the World Monument Watch, with funds from the World Monuments Fund and the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, as well as from private donations from the Rothschild, Lauder, Rosenberg, Rose and other foundations. Don’t Miss: Pesah (Passover) and Sukkoth (Feast of the Tabernacles) services, Sabbath service.
37. Skrydlof Street (Leather Lane)
Address: Skrydlof, Old Town. For centuries, Skrydlof Street or Leather Lane was the center of the manufacturing and selling of leather goods, especially “stivania”, the traditional long Cretan boots worn by men, both in urban and rural areas, together with wide baggy trousers known as ‘vraka’ and the idiosyncratic black fringed head-scarf. Although most leather goods are now produced in factories outside of Chania and are of significantly lesser quality, this street still retains an air of an eastern market or souk where it is still possible to buy made-to-measure, hand-made boots. Behind the shops lining the southern side of this street are traces of the original Venetian defense wall that defined the southern perimeters of Chania during the Venetian period.
38. The Municipal Market of Chania (Dimotiki Agora)
Address: Plateia Sofoklis Venezelos, Kentro (New Town). Hours of Operation: Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays 08:00- 14:00, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays 08:00-21:00 (closed Sundays). Admission: Free. The Municipal Market of Chania, the Dimotiki Agora, was built between 1909 and 1913 on the site of the former main Piatta Forma bastion. In a bid to modernise the city, to create a new modern market, and to ease the overcrowding of the walled-in city, the municipal council demolished parts of the Venetian defense walls which were rendered obsolete by this time and filled in the moat to erect a new Municipal Market based on the plans by local engineer, K. Drandakis. They built a covered, cruciform-shaped market hall with seventy-six shops arranged in groups in four arms pointing to the cardinal points of a compass. It was opened by Prime Minister Venizelos in December, 1913 following the independence ceremony at the Firkas Tower and was considered at the time to be ultra-modern and one of the largest markets in the entire region. The Municipal Market today is a meeting place for both locals and tourists alike, where the visitor can find tsikoudia (raki), herbs, cheeses, meat and fish, fresh breads, as well as Cretan souvenirs.
39. Chatzimichali Daliani
Address: Chatzimichali Daliani, Splantzia. Immediately to the north of the Municipal Market is narrow pedestrianized street in the old Muslim neighborhood of Splantzia. Today, the street is home to shoe repairers and shoe-makers, traditional jewelers, seamstresses, clothes designers, a cultural center, bars, cafes, restaurants, as well as several historical sites of interest including the former Monastery Santa Maria della Misericordia, now the Kibar Bar, and an old mosque with its minaret still standing. While this street clearly reflects Chania’s now vibrant, lively, multicultural character, from the period of the Ottoman Turkish rule until 1923, the majority of Chania’s Cretan Turkish population lived in this area and certainly, no Christian or Jewish citizen would have dared to enter this neighborhood for fear of serious retribution. Don’t Miss: Politechnio Cultural Center and Cafe, Nikos Boulakas’ traditional hand-made jewelry and knife shop, Kibar Bar in the former Monastery Santa Maria della Misericordia, Mesoghiako restaurant.
40. Church of Ayias Irinis
Address: Plateia Kallinikou Sarpaki, Splantzia. The Greek Orthodox Church of Ayias Irinis has been recently restored by the Greek Archaeological Service with funds provided by the European Union and functions as a chapel. This small two-aisled, barrel-vaulted church was, for many years, incorporated into a private house that is now demolished.
41. Church of San Rocco
Address: Plateia Splantzia 1, Splantzia. The Venetian-built Church of San Rocco was constructed in 1630 on the northwest corner of Splantzia Square (also called 1821 Square). It is dedicated to Saint Rocco (also Saint Roch, Saint Roche) as evidenced by the Latin inscription over the building’s entrance and the entablature along the top of the building which reads: “Dedicated to God the Great and Mighty and to the Divine Rocco. 1630”. As such, the church appears to have been built following an outbreak of the plague or cholera against which the locals believed that the saint offered them protection. Following years of neglect, the church has been recently restored and now represents a fine example of the Late Renaissance “Pure Palladian” style with its finely dressed masonry, triangular pediments and circular lunette or occulus. The interior of the church consists of two vaulted aisles of different forms with the north aisle being simple and unadorned, and the south aisle constructed entirely of dressed masonry in keeping with the influences of Venetian Mannerism popular at the time. In the late nineteenth century, the church was used as a local police station and later, as a grocery.
42. Splantzia Square (Plateia 1821)
Address: Daskaliani and Kalistou, Splantzia. Splantzia Square, also called 1821 Square, is the heart of Splantzia with the Greek Orthodox Church of Agios Nikolaos dominating the square on its eastern side and the Church of San Rocco to its northwest. This square derives its name from the year of one of the largest local rebellions against Ottoman Turkish authority in 1821 when the Bishop Melhissedek of Kissamos was taken by an angry mob of Cretan Turks, alongside other clerics, and hanged on the large sycamore tree that still stands in the square’s center. There is also a large underground fountain built in the eighteenth century that served the needs of ceremonial washing when the church became a mosque. This underground chamber was used as a bomb shelter during WWII. Don’t Miss: Klidi Cafe-Bar, Platanos ouzo and tsipouro tavern.
43. Church of Agios Nikolaos
Address: Kalistou, Splantzia. The Greek Orthodox Church of Agios Nikolaos was constructed in 1320 by the Dominican brotherhood of Kantia, forming part of the Venetian-built Dominican Monastery of San Nicolo immediately to its north. The present church has been altered many times since its original construction. Initially, the church formed a basilica with a transept ending in a tripartite sanctuary with no apse, while the exterior was reinforced by tall buttresses incorporated into the masonry. The church was later converted into the main mosque of the city, the Mosque of Sultan Ibrahim, also called the Hugar Mosque or Mosque of the Ruler in 1645 and a minaret was added on its south side with two distinctive circular balconies called “serifiedes”, no doubt indicating its significance as the principle city mosque. For many years, a sword of the first Turkish dervish to enter Chania in 1645 was stored inside the mosque as a sacred and miracle-working relic. In 1918, the Orthodox Christians of Chania took over the church and re-dedicated it to the memory of Agios Nikolaos, the patron saint of sailors.
44. Church of Ayias Ekaterinis
Address: Parathos Kalistou Episkopou 2, Splantzia. Near to Agios Nikolaos is the small Greek Orthodox Church of Ayias Ekaterinis built in the second half of the sixteenth century and dedicated to Ayias Ekaterinis (St. Catherine) whom the locals of this Christian neighborhood revered. This two-aisled church with a facade articulated by pillars and dressed cornices, and surmounted by pediments, and with a base of a campanile at the centre, represents an interesting hybrid of Venetian Late Gothic forms and Venetian Mannerism. During the Ottoman Turkish period, the church was used as a bakery, and later as a machine shop. It was recently expropriated by the Greek Archaeological Service, restored and re-converted into a church.
45. Church of Ayii Anargyri
Address: Episkopou Nikiforou 25, Ayii Anargyri. The Greek Orthodox Church of Ayii Anargyri holds particular importance in Chania’s history as the only Greek Orthodox church in the entire city that continued to function as a Christian place of worship during the Turkish occupation when all other churches were converted into mosques. The area in which the church is located bares the same name as the church and in fact, for centuries was the focus for the activities of Chania’s Christian population including the bishop’s residence, schools and charities. This church also served as the cathedral of the bishop of Kydonia who was restored his seat after an absence of about four hundred years. The church dates to the sixteenth century and comprises three rooms built at different times which are connected by a large single aisle. Ayii Anargyri is noted for its interior decoration, most of which dates between 1837 and 1841, as recorded on the gilded wood-carved iconostasis. However, also exhibited are two large icon paintings dating to 1625 and attributed to Ambrosios Emboros, a priest-monk from Chania and the first of a series of painters from west Crete who was strongly influenced by Flemish engraving. Originally housed in the Church of Ayios Ioannis Erimitis, the icons depict the Dormition of the Virgin and the Last Judgment, respectively. They were “dedicated” by local officials, and by local residents to St John the Hermit on whom they rested their hopes of protection against the Turks. A smaller seventeenth century icon portraying Saint Charalambos and signed by “the Hand of Victor”, a renowned local painter of the time, is also exhibited.
46. Sabbionara Bastion and Gate (Moncenigo Bastion)
Address: Epimenidou and Akti Miauli, Koum Kapi. The bastion and gate of Sabbionara, also known as Moncenigo bastion formed part of the sixteenth century Venetian fortification system of the city and was completed in 1591. Located on the north-east corner of the city, this is the only surviving gate in Chania, its appearance significantly modified during the Ottoman Turkish period when its size was reduced. Of note, the circular Venetian emblem of the Lion of St. Mark is preserved on the front the bastion, together with a coat of arms and the date. Following the Turkish conquest of Chania in 1645, the Turks closed the Sabbionara gate and opened a smaller one closer to the bastion which they named “Koum Kapi” meaning “Gate of the Sand”, a Turkish name still retained today. In 1850, a military hospital was built within the perimeters of the bastion and then moved into the bastion itself by the local officials in 1920. The hospital and parts of the Sabbionara bastion and gate were later destroyed by the German bombing in 1941.
47. Municipal Art Gallery of Chania
Address: Halidon 98-102, Old Town. Phone: +30 2821092294/36190. Website:http://www.pinakothiki-chania.gr/en/the_art_gallery.aspx Hours of Operation: Monday- Friday 10:00- 14:00, Saturday 10:00- 14:00, closed Sundays. Admission: € 2 (reduced €1). Housed in a nineteenth century Neoclassical building, the Municipal Art Gallery exhibits permanent collections of painting, drawing and sculpture acquired by the municipality over the years. Its purpose is to not only display works of art like any other museum, but to use the gallery as an interactive center of cultural education incorporating art, science, speech and fine arts.
48. The War Museum
Address: Tzobanaki Cassem, Parko Eirinis kai Filias (New Town). Phone: +30 2821044156. Hours of Operation: Monday- Friday 09:00- 13:00 (closed Saturdays and Sundays). Admission: € 2. Temporarily closed for renovation in 2011. The War Museum of Chania is located on the corner of Sfakianaki and Tzanakaki streets next to the Municipal Gardens in a nineteenth century building once housing the barracks of the Italian army during WWII. It was established in 1995 with the aim of collecting, protecting, conserving and exhibiting war artifacts, photographs and other items relating to past conflicts in Greek history such as the participation of Cretan soldiers in the Macedonian Wars (1903 – 1922), the Balkan Wars (1912-13), the Asia Minor Campaign (1919-1922), WWI and WWII with specific focus on the German occupation in Crete (1941-1945).
49. Public Gardens
Address: Papandreas and Tzanakaki, Parko Eirinia kai Filias (New Town). Admission: Free. Situated between Papandreas and Tzanakaki Streets in the New Town, the public gardens were first planned and laid out by Turkish Pasha, Reouf, in 1870 to a distinctly European design. In the early twentieth century, a café was opened with both indoor and outdoor facilities that are still in use today, alongside an open air auditorium used as a cinema in the summer months, a small animal enclosure and a children’s play area. Chania’s clock-tower was added in the north-east corner of the gardens between 1924 and 1927 with an unusual tripartite design by local engineer, D. Kollaris.