Sightseeing in the city of chania
We highly recommend that visitors take a stroll in the city centre of Chania which is steeped in history; a sightseeing tour of the crossroads and the winding cobbled paths of civilizations with the starting point being the most central point in Chania: the Municipal Market or the Agora.
Inaugurated in 1913 and built on the site of the levelled Venetian bastion, Piatta Forma, traces of which have been uncovered next to the southern entrance, the Agora is a stately cruciform structure which shelters 76 shops where the visitor may find almost any product of the municipality of Chania.
Descending the western stairs of the Agora the visitor finds himself on the commercial road of Mousouron in the Katolas neighbourhood. Heading north on Mousouron Street, he turns left and ends up at the pedestrian street of Skridlof at the "Stivanadika", one of the most touristic streets of Chania, offering handmade leather products such as bags, sandals and the traditional Cretan boots called 'stivania'.
This pedestrian street meets the charming street of Chalidon, where the visitor will find the historic buildings of the Philological Association "Chrisostomos" and the Public Art Gallery.
As he slowly ambles down Chalidon Street he is led to the old city and port, however, he first passes in front of the square of the Cathedral "Mitropolis" with the imposing church of the "Isodion", the Catholic church of Chania and the church of Agios Fragiskos which houses the Archaeological Museum.
From within the Byzantine wall and Katre Street he ascends Kanevaro Street.
At last he finds himself in the centre of the fortified acropolis where he can visit the excavated Minoan settlement. Continuing his journey along Kanevaro Street, he turns left into Agios Markos Street where the "stoa" (colonnade) remains of the Venetian monastery and church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli (1615) are still visible.
Reaching the end of the acropolis of Kasteli, the Venetian port of Chania with its two clusters of Venetian shipyards (Neoria) (14- 16th century) unfolds in front of his eyes in the east and the Great Arsenal in front of his feet.
The staircase which is an extension of Agios Markos Street will escort the visitor down to Akti Enoseos, next to the Great Arsenal which has been restored and accommodates the exhibition and meeting venue of the Centre of Architecture of the Mediterranean.
The long stretch of breakwater is interrupted in its middle by the small port of San Nicolo and it ends up at the Venetian lighthouse which was reconstructed during the Turkish occupation and given the shape of a minaret.
Heading towards the west, the port of Chania with the Venetian physiognomy of its buildings, full of colour and shapes, unfolds before the visitor.
Leaving it behind, he will continue his coastal stroll along Akti Koundourioti which has every type of taverna and cafe imaginable, and he will wind up at the westernmost point, where, across the lighthouse, guarding the entrance of the port, the fortress of Firkas has been erected.
This is where on December 1, 1913, the Greek flag was unfurled and ceremoniously raised, symbolizing the Unification of Crete with Greece.
The fortress houses the Naval Museum of Crete as well as the Historical, Cultural and Archaeological Society of Crete.
Following the perimeter of the fortress, the visitor will ascend Theotokopoulou Street, seeing the church of San Salvatore (15- 17th century) which houses the Byzantine and post-Byzantine Collection of Chania on his left.
He will then penetrate the picturesque quarters of Topana which got its name from a gun depository (top hane in Turkish) and he will admire the Venetian and Turkish architecture inside the narrow cobbled alleyways.
At the end of Theotokopoulou Street he will descend Douka Street to the centre of the aristocratic neighbourhood of the Venetian town.
There he will gaze at the facades of the huge aristocratic houses of the Venetians which later became possessions of the Turkish baronage and the magnificent specimens of architecture in Theofanous Street, which in the present day have been restored and converted into guest houses.
Of exceptional beauty is the Palazzo of the Renier family, in Moschon Street, built in the 15th century with the small family chapel of Agios Nicholas and the impressive entrance with the Latin inscription and the family's coat of arms.
Continuing his descent along Zabeliou Street, the visitor ambles past the Ombriaki, the old Jewish quarters, with the renovated and unique for Crete Jewish Synagogue, and casts his eyes upon public as well as private buildings from the Venetian and Turkish occupation, among which stands a Turkish bath.
Kondilaki Street, with its distinctive touristy hue, meets Zabeliou Street and leads the visitor towards the interior of the old city, where he will fleetingly savour the character of a medieval town and end up at the rampart Schiavo from where through the small and very beautiful square of Porto Street, he will find himself once again at Chalidon Street at the height of the Stivanadika.
East of the port the visitor will encounter the historical square of Splanzia, where he will set his eyes on the church of Agios Nicholaos (1204) with the Turkish minaret and the church of Agios Rokkoy (1630) which dates back to the renaissance. Around the square there are scattered neighbourhoods with a strong Turkish influence.
Beyond the touristically and historically rich centre of Chania and past the walls of the old city, the visitor can visit the historical quarters of Halepa with the aristocratic houses from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century and the "Tabakaria" neighbourhood.
There he will gaze upon the Palace of Prince Georgios and the residence of Eleftherios Venizelos which houses the National Foundation of Research "Eleftherios K. Venizelos", with his statue which has been erected in the square, the French Academy (1860), the Russian church of Agia Magdalini and the church of Evangelistria.
Returning from Halepa to the city and the works of more modern years, our visitor can take the time to visit the circular square of Liberty, "Eleftheria", with the statue of Eleftherios Venizelos in the centre across the Mansion of the Prefecture (and of the Courts of Justice) which is an exceptional specimen of Turkish Architecture.
Finally, on Dimokratia Street is where the Episcopy and the Cultural Centre of the Metropolis of Kydonia and Apokoronas, the Intellectual Centre of Chania, the Park of Peace and Friendship of the People, the Italian Barracks, the Tower Clock, The Public Garden and the Athletic Centre/Stadium are situated.
The beautiful city of Chania is deservingly called the diamond of Crete since it combines, in a very unique way, everything old with everything new: the legendary Minoan splendour with the Venetian intellectuality, the Turkish simplicity with the classicist richness, the medieval beauty with the modern grandeur, the plain architectural style with the intricate synthesis…