Chania pronounced Hania is the 2nd largest city in Crete, situated on the west of the island this is an amazing culturally different city. Hania has been invaded many times and the influences can be seen today, from the Venetian port to the Byzantine buildings all over the charming town of Hania.
The official population of the municipal area is 55,838 but around 70,000 people live in the greater area of Chania. The city of Chania lies at the east end of the Gulf of Chania, overlooking the Akrotiri peninsula in the east and the Spatha peninsula (also called Rodopos) in the west.
Chania is the main capital but it’s so well located that you can visit such areas as Kissamos, Souda, Balos, Samaria and of course Platanias. It is a city of amazing history and has been ruled by many civilizations throughout the ages. The Turks, Venetians, Byzantines have all had control over the city of Chania and the influences can be seen in the architecture can be seen all round the city. But there is a lot more to do in Chania apart from just sightsee, the city is buzzing with life all through the day and night, looking down the page you will see we have compiled information on the famous cross shaped market of Chania, and also the stunning beaches that lie with the prefecture of Chania.
The city of Chania can be divided in two parts: the old town and the modern city which is the larger one. The old town is situated next to the old harbour and is the center 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 them the eastern and western parts have survived. From the south, the old town is interwoven with the new, and from the north the physical border is the sea. The center of the modern city is the area extending next to the old town and especially towards the south.
Despite being heavily bombed during World War II Chania´s Old Town is considered the most beautiful urban district on Crete, especially the crumbling Venetian harbour. You can still see a lot of bombed out houses that were abandoned during this time, and provide you with excellent photographic opportunities.
The modern part of Chania is where most locals live and work. It is less traditional than the old town, but there are still areas of charming beauty or of some historical interest. We recommend when you visit the sprawling city of Chania that you try to experience the best of what each town has to offer, the winding alley ways of the Old Town with hidden Tavern’s and cafes to the shopping heaven and stunning architecture that is Chania New Town.
Chania New Town
You could say that Chania consists of two towns, the old and the new, which coexist in a harmonious whole. The new town embraces the old and spreads outwards ever wider. Its layout is fairly good near the center 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.
Cross Shaped Market
Agora market is one of the things that draws people to Chania and something that makes Chania famous across Europe. Agora market is right in the bustling town center, holding place as a Chania landmark it bustles with vendors and shoppers. The sight and the sounds of this market are something to be experienced, but just imagine the scent of many Cretan herbs, spices, olive oils, meats and honey all combining to make and unforgettable aroma of Crete.
The market is shaped like a cross, relating to the Greek orthodox religion and is a great place for locals and tourists alike to congregate and barter for goods. To find the market just ask for Agora market and the locals will always point you in the right direction of the market square. But in anyways it is an unusual building placed in the heart of the city, so you cannot avoid.