“Chania is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful cities on the island of Crete, because of its natural, privileged, well-protected beauty. Sleepless guardians to the south stand the gigantic Madares Mountains in all their indestructible, panoramic glory. To the north stretches the multicoloured immensity of the Sea of Crete, embraced by its gorgeous, long-armed capes and wild silver gorges.
Chania lies on the north coast of west Crete and is the capital of Prefecture, which covers the westernmost end of Crete and features a combination of many beautiful beaches, small fertile plains, high mountains and deep gorges, such as the Samaria Gorge. Chania Prefecture is the greenest part of the island, as the range of the White Mountains ensures the highest rainfall in Crete.
Chania, being one of the oldest cities in Crete, has a rich and tumultuous history. Today it is the second most populated city on the island, a city which has preserved its traditional architecture and most of its monuments from Venetian and Turkish times. The Venetian harbor, with its lighthouse, and the old town in the centre have bestowed on Chania the reputation of the most picturesque city in Crete, welcoming thousands of visitors each year.
Chania does not lag behind in modern developments, as it is home to the Technical University of Crete and other educational establishments. It also offers many and varied cultural events and amusements.
New town of Chania
You could say that Chania consists of two towns, the old and the new, which co-exist in a harmonious whole. The new town embraces the old and spreads outwards ever wider. Its layout is fairly good near the centre and it’s easy to find your way around. Unfortunately this changes in the suburbs, where it’s easy to get lost. It is commonly observed that it is very easy to find your way into Chania, but much harder to get out. Of course, you may not want to leave, as Chania is a city that will enchant you.
Chania old town
The heart of Chania is still the old town, with its narrow, labyrinthine alleyways and listed buildings dating from different periods, where you can enjoy romantic strolls. Many of these buildings have been turned into small hotels, restaurants, shops or homes.
Don’t hesitate to wander round the alleys of the old town, looking for the lovely images that await you. Your camera must be your inseparable companion, as Chania is one of the most photographed cities in Greece.
The old town stretches out parallel to the Venetian Harbour, from Firkas Fortress and the Maritime Museum to the “Pyli tis Ammou” (Gate of the Sand, or Koum Kapi in Turkish) to the east of the arsenals. This is the part of town within the Venetian walls, and includes Byzantine Chania, once enclosed within less extensive walls.
The Byzantine walls protected the fortress of Kastelli, the hill which was first inhabited in the Neolithic period.
Kastelli Hill rises above the Turkish mosque in the Venetian harbour. Here stood the acropolis of ancient Kydonia, the Minoan Chania. There, too, was built the first Byzantine fortress, the Kastelli, surrounded by walls with many towers and bastions. The Venetians established their headquarters there in 1252, building the Rector’s Residence (the Rector was the Governor of Chania), while the same site was the seat of the pashas during the Turkish Occupation. During the last years of Turkish rule, the Christian aristocracy lived inside the Kastelli. Unfortunately, most of the district was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, and its medieval aspect was lost forever. Today only the base of the north wall remains. There is also the main road that once ran through the Kastelli, modern-day Kanevaro Street, with its imposing mansions.
The territory of Chania has many beauties among which its numerous beaches. From warm sand to colorful pebbles, all and all Chania has a type of beach for everyone. Small and secluded coves can be found everywhere as well as long, busy and fully equipped beaches. All beaches have crystalline waters. Some of the many beaches are: Golden Beach, Agia Marina, Georgoupoli, Stalos and more...
Golden Beach Chania:
Chrissi Akti literally means Golden Beach due to the incredible colour of the sand on this beautiful beach.
It is located at a walking distance from the city of Chania and offers plenty of accommodations which are surrounding it.
Chrissi Akti consists of three soft sandy beaches with clear and shallow waters, particularly safe for children.
One of the beaches has a children play area and all have various touristy facilities, such as umbrellas, sun bed rentals and sea sports.
Agia Marina Crete Chania
Agia Marina is one of the most important tourist resorts of Chania. It is a long and sandy beach with a lot of facilities that include nice beach bars, small taverns and water-sports.
Agia Marina consists of many close bars that stay open all night. There are also other bars in the area, the closest ones being in Chania or Platanias town. It is located 3 km to the west of Chania and there are many regular buses that connect the two areas.
Although it is affected by northern summer winds, called militia, it is very popular, especially the west side of the beach. The eastern side has some deserted spots, if you prefer privacy.
In general, Georgioupoli is a well-organized beach, where, apart from swimming and sunbathing, you can practice sea sports, have a refreshment drink at the beach bars or enjoy a meal in the seaside fish taverns. The traditional fishing harbour of Georgioupoli village attracts many tourists.
You will find a lot of accommodation options on this beach in case you want to spend some days there. The area is well-connected with regular buses to the close-by cities of Crete. Bear in mind also that the nearby Lake Kournas makes for a nice excursion by foot or bicycle.
Stalos beach is right above Stalos village, placed at 7 km to the west of Chania town, and can be reached by bus. It is a very long and sandy beach with a tourist-aimed waterfront. In fact, Stalos beach extends for so long that, if you prefer some tranquility, there are areas that don't get crowded.
Visitors in Stalos beach can enjoy its picturesque and relaxed environment during the day as well as the nightlife of the close villages, especially Platanias and Agia Marina.
As for daytime activities, sports are quite popular on this beach and it is possible to practice beach volley, beach tennis and water-cycling. Enjoying the views of the Agioi Theodoroi islet is also recommended.
NIGHTLIFE IN CHANIA
Numerous modern bars with various atmospheres can be found in Chania and in the touristy beach resorts of Chania’s surroundings, particularly in Platanias and Paleohora.
Night clubs are also aplenty and play a wide range of music until the early hours of the morning. However, for the real party-goers, you must visit a Bazooka, there you will really see what nightlife is about. Late night beach bars are located on some beaches.
HISTORY OF CHANIA
According to archaeological excavations, Chania stands on the site of ancient Kydonia, a large city which flourished during the Roman period. Other excavations proved that the area was inhabited since Neolithic times and an important settlement used to stand on the same site. This settlement extended over the centuries and became Kydonia, which is believed to have been destroyed by the Saracens in 828 AD.
Chania lost its prestige during the second Byzantine period and went from the status of a prestigious town to that of an unimportant village.
When the Venetians came they fortified the town and built palaces within the fortress, as well as a Roman Catholic cathedral. The walls of the city were constantly fortified during the 200 years of the Venetian occupation. In 1645 the Turks besieged the fort and took the town. They repaired and
fortified the walls of the city and, in 1851, transferred the seat of their administrationto Chania.
After many battles and revolutionary acts from the inhabitants of Crete, the island was declared autonomous in 1897, and Chania became the capital of the Cretan State as well as the seat of the High Commissioner.
In 1913 Crete (and Chania) was reunited with the newly built free Greek State.
On 20th May 1941, the Germans attacked the island by air and sea. Those attacks lasted for 8 days until the Germans managed to invade Crete, known as the Battle of Crete, one of the most heroic battles of the island. The inhabitants of the island fought bravely for their freedom, helped by British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers. During the difficult years of German occupation, the Cretans actively kept organizing acts of resistance. In 1971 Chania lost its status as capital of Crete and was replaced by Heraklion.
Villages well worth a visit
Various attractive mountain villages are embellishing the surroundings of Chania Crete (Hania). The most famous of those traditional and picturesque villages is Therissos, and is considered as the most beautiful and unspoiled village of Crete The coasts are boarded by lovely and lively touristy resorts, built on fine beaches and offering all kinds of accommodations and facilities.
The small village of Therissos is built on the foot of the White Mountains at an altitude of 580 metres, 20 kilometres south from Chania. The village is famous for its incredible beauty, its glorious history, but also its dairy farming.
Therissos played an important role in the history of Crete during the 19th century since it was the place of birth of the Cretan revolutionists, Vassilis Stefanos and Giannis Halis, who participated in most of the great battles against the Turks and the
But the great past of the village and its fame is mostly due to the fact that Eleftherios Venizelos (the great politician and statesman) had his headquarters at Therissos when he declared the union of Crete with the newly built Greek State. His house has been turned into a museum.
The lovely village has various accommodations and excellent taverns, where one can taste the divine local specialties. Visitors can also admire the cave located 2.5 km north of the village, on the left bank of Kladissos River, where traces of Neolithic and Minoan settlements have been discovered.
Kissamos is a beautiful town, lying 42 kilometres west of Chania, and has about 3000 inhabitants. Kastelli Kissamou (Kissamos) is surrounded by a marvellous landscape, for it has been built along a quiet beach with golden soft sands mixed with pebbles.
Its economic development is mostly based on wine, since the town is the centre of production and trade of the famous Kissamos wine, but also on oil and agricultural production.
The little town, therefore, has not been spoiled by tourism and is not a busy tourist resort. The town of Kastelli Kissamou is located on the same site where the ancient city of Kissamos used to stand. The city was the port of the town of Polyrenia, the oldest Dorian city of Crete, situated 7 km south of Kissamos, and was the maritime and commercial centre of Western Crete.
Because of its wealth and location, the city of Kissamos was always well fortified; the walls of the city were built by the Venetians, and parts of them can still be found in Kissamos.
The special characteristic of the city was a Venetian fortress (Castello) from which Kastelli took its name. Since Crete had many places with the name Kastelli, the city was named Kastelli Kissamou.
Various accommodations of all categories can be found in Kissamos, as well as camping sites, excellent taverns frequented by the locals, some bars and various traditional cafes. Regular buses link Kissamos to Chania and, from the town's harbour, regular ferries sail to Gythion in the Peloponnesus, and to the island of Kythira.
From Kastelli Kissamou one can visit the interesting archaeological sites of Polyrenia and Falassarna, the impressive gorges of Topolia, the isles Gramvoussa (also called the Pirate Isles), the idyllic lagoon of Balos, the wonderful sandy beaches and their crystalline waters, and the numerous enchanting medieval villages.
Platanias is a village situated about 15 kilometres west from Chania. It is the largest touristy resort of Western Crete. The village owns its name to the many plane trees (“platania” in Greek), which stand on the shore of the river Platanias, on the mouth of which the village is located.
Frequent local buses link Platanias to Chania. Mostly full of package tourists, the busy resort has all kind of accommodations from luxury hotel complexes
to simple, family-owned rooms for rent.
Numerous restaurants, Greek taverns, bars, clubs and shops can be found in Platanias, as well as beautiful long sandy beaches, although sometimes exposed to the winds, but with amazing, pristine waters. Highly-developed tourist facilities have driven Platanias perhaps a little too far from the real authentic Crete, but it remains a great place for those who enjoy such facilities within easy reach, as well as having various sea sports available on the beach.