Chaniá is the second largest city of Crete and the capital of the Chania regional unit. It lies along the north coast of the island, about 70 km (43 mi) west of Rethymno and 145 km (90 mi) west of Heraklion. The city enjoys a typical Mediterranean climate, with sunny dry summers and mild rainy winters. During the period between April and October you can be almost certain of high, blue skies. The atmosphere is always warm, but fierce heat waves (above 38 °C) are not very common, since the prevailing Etesian winds, also called “Meltemia” blow from northern directions and pleasantly moderate the conditions.
Coordinates: 35°31′N 24°1′E
Chania is the site of the Minoan settlement the Greeks called Kydonia. Notable evidence for the existence of this Minoan city below some parts of today’s Chania was found by archaeological excavations in the district of Kasteli in the Old Town. This area appears to have been inhabited since the Neolithic era. The city reemerged after the end of the Minoan period as an important city-state in Classical Greece, one whose domain extended from Chania Bay to the feet of the White Mountains. The first major wave of settlers from mainland Greece was by the Dorian Greeks who came around 1100 BC. In 69 BC, the Roman consul Caecilius Metellus defeated the Cretans and conquered Kydonia to which he granted the privileges of an independent city-state. Kydonia reserved the right to mint its own coins until the third century AD.
The early Christian period under Byzantine rule (First Byzantine Period, 395–824 AD) and the rule of the Arabs, who called the settlement Al Hanim (“the Inn”), are not well documented. Under the Arabs, the Christian population was persecuted and moved to the mountains. The Byzantine Empire retook the city in 961 AD (Second Byzantine Period, until 1204 AD). In this period the Arabic name of the city was changed into Greek Chania. Byzantines began to strongly fortify the city in order to prevent another Arab invasion, using materials from the ancient buildings of the area. By this time Chania was the seat of a bishop.
The Venetian era
After the Fourth Crusade in 1204 and the fall of Byzantium in the Hellenic area, Crete was given to Bonifacio, Marquess of Montferrat, who sold it to the Venetians for 100 silver marks. In 1252 the Venetians managed to subdue the Cretans but in 1263, their rivals of Genoa, with local support, seized the city and held it until 1285, when the Venetians returned. Chania was chosen as the seat of the Rector (Administrator General) of the region and flourished as an important commercial centre of a fertile agricultural region.
The exhibition is divided widthwise into two major sections: the eastern part, with artifacts of the Late Neolithic and Bronze Age (Minoan times), and, the western part with antiquities out of Iron Age (historical times). The findings are presented both according to excavation sets and themes. The collections include Minoan finds from the city of Chania, prehistoric finds from caves, Minoan finds from various parts of the county, finds from the graves of the Geometric period, historical discoveries from the city of Chania and several other towns. The museum contains a substantial collection of Minoan and Roman artifacts excavated from around the city of Chania and the surrounding prefecture. It also contains a wide range of coins, jewellery, vases, sculpture, clay tablets with inscriptions, stelae and mosaics.
Entrance fee: 2 € Reduced 1 €
Telephone: (+30) 28210 – 90334
Chania city today
The city of Chania can be divided in two parts: the old town and the modern city (by far the largest). The old town is situated next to the old harbour and is the matrix around which the whole urban area was developed. It used to be surrounded by the old Venetian fortifications that started to be built in 1538; of which the eastern and western parts have survived. From the south, the old town is continuous with the new, and to the north is the sea. The centre of the modern city is the area extending next to the old town and especially towards the south. Chania’s Old Town is considered the most beautiful urban district on Crete, especially the crumbling Venetian harbour.
The central part of the old town is named Kasteli and has been inhabited since Neolithic times. The main square of the Old Town (next to the west end of Kasteli) is the Eleftherios Venizelos Square (“Syntrivani“). It is the heart of the touristic activities in the area.
A very distinctive area of the Old Town is the harbour itself and generally the seafront (“akti”). Akti Tompazi, Akti Kountouriotou and Akti Enoseos (marina) all feature several historical buildings and a thriving nightlife. The main street that combines the modern town with the old town is Halidon Str.
Waterland: One of the most beautiful and entertaining water parks of the island, Limnoupoli, is located just 6 kilometres outside Chania.