The picturesque scenery, the city’s rich history, the traditional small villages and exotic sandy beaches that surround the city charm every visitor.
The list with the top sightseeing in the region could include so many places: from tiny villages and fantastic beaches to impressive landscape spots.
The Tombs of Venizelos
On the road from Chania Town on top of Prophitis Ilias hill with the most impressive panoramic view to the town, there are the tombs of two great politicians of Greece: Eleftherios Venizelos and his son, Sophocles Venizelos.
Eleftherios Venizelos is among the most prominent political figures in modern Greece. He served the Greek State as prime minister 7 times and died in 1936 self-exiled in Paris, after he set the foundations for a modern social state.
Moving on with our city trip, next to the Tombs of Venizelos, we descover the Monastery of Prophet Elias, established in the 16th century. At the bell tower of this monastery, the flag of the last Cretan revolution was raised in 1897. After this revolution, Crete was declared a free state for few years and then it was united to the rest of Greece. In memory of this last revolution, there is the statue of fighter Spyros Kayaledakis, also near to the tombs.
Nea Chora (which means 'new town') was the first modern part of Chania to be built outside the Venetian fortification wall in the early 18th century. In a sense it is the oldest part of the modern town. Nea Chora has a fishing harbour and a good sandy beach.
The small road that runs along the beach is lined with cafés and mainly fish restaurants, a short walk from the Venetian harbour and the centre of the Old Town.
The Venetian Harbor
The Venetian Harbor with its lighthouse is considered to be the symbol of Chania. It was built by the Venetians between 1320 and 1356. The harbor, along with its surrounding area, is famous for its magnificent architecture that combines Eastern and Western elements.
The port of Chania is one of the busiest places during the day and the most romantic spot at night.
Filled with wooden fishing boats, seafood “tavernas” and cafés is totally enchanting by night. To the east of the old harbor, note the mosque, erected by the Ottoman Turks after they took Chania in 1645. Beyond the mosque stand the arsenals, where the Venetians repaired their galleys, and a yachting marina.
The beautiful Venetian lighthouse - it was designed by an Egyptian architect in 1839 and is strangely reminiscent of a minaret.
The district of Splantzia is located close to the Byzantine fortification wall and used to be the Turkish quarter of the town. It has many nice narrow alleys where you will now find pleasant coffee shops in the shade of a large plane tree.
The large church of the square is dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Built in 1320, it was part of the Dominican monastery of Saint Nicholas. You can still see a beautiful cross-vaulted arcade, which belonged to the monastery on the Vourdouba Street.
During Turkish occupation it was used as barracks but also as a mosque, being the largest mosque in town. After the Turks left it became an Orthodox church dedicated to Agios Nikolaos. The minaret underwent a complete restoration a few years ago.
Kastelli Hill rises above the Venetian harbour.
Chania is one of the oldest inhabited city in the world (around 5000 years ago) and became later known as Kastelli hill, mostly because of the Byzantine fortification that was built here.
Unfortunately most of the district was destroyed by German bombings during the Second World War and most of its old houses are gone. The interesting part of the intense bombing of Kastelli hill was that when they started to collect the ruins, pieces of Minoan pottery were found. That proved that it was a major Minoan site less than a meter below the present ground level.
A long term Greek-Swedish (1967 to 2001) joined by a Danish team in 2010 have uncovered a number of buildings covering the transition between the Neolithic and the Early Bronze Age c. 3000 BC till the present day, almost 5000 years of the history of the settlement of Chania.
The main place for visitors to see is the excavations at Agia Ekaterini Square, only a few minutes walk from the old harbour.