Venice of the East!

Chania is a town with a long history, and it is no accident that it was named ‘Venice of the East’. It is also the capital of the prefecture by the same name and stands out for its charm and elegance. References to the town employ the opposite terms ‘old’ and ‘new’ before the word ‘town’. The new town is a modern urban centre featuring all the amenities of a city. Notwithstanding the modern look travelers can easily spot elements of a bygone elegance. As one wanders through the picturesque alleys of the old town, one can notice various architectural styles which are testimony to the diverse cultures that once lived there but left their indelible marks in the history of the place and in the culture of the people.

Taking a walk in the town of Chania is more like a fairytale experience. The old town, built on the ruins of ancient (Minoan) Kydonia, spreads around the Κasteli (Fortress) Hill. The town is surrounded by districts where once lived people of diverse nationalities, cultures and religions. The monuments those peoples left behind gave the town of Chania its distinctive character.

In the Topanas district, in the north part of the town, lived wealthy Greeks during the period of Turkish occupation. If you walk through the cobbled alleys you will come across elegant Venetian houses but also Turkish houses. In the same location rises the Firkas Fortress, while in the streets below you will find shops with traditional artifacts, textiles and other items of popular art.

One more interesting location is the Jewish District. In this district you will find the Synagogue, the church of Saint Francis and the Archaeological Museum. Next is the district of Sintrivani (Fountain), which took its name from the fountain built there by the Turks. Another interesting landmark is the mosque of Hassan Pasha. Across the mosque is the promenade with the Venetian Lighthouse.

East of the port lies the Kasteli district where once stood the acropolis of ancient Cydonia. On the basis of archaeological evidence we know that the area has been occupied by people since the Minoan period. Near the Kasteli district is the Splantzia, a former Turkish district, with the church of Saint Nikolas and the byzantine church of Saint Roccos.

Outside the walls of the old town, to the east, we come across the historic district of Koum-Kapi. During the 18th century Bedouins (Arabs from Africa) lived and worked there. The same district today is a favourite “hang-out” for young people and offers them a lot of opportunities for entertainment: theatre, cinema, bars, live music halls. In Chania you will find anything your heart desires.