On the northwestern edge of the Venetian Port of Chania is the Firka fortress built to protect the harbor entrance. In the fort were the headquarters of the military governor of the city. Internally there were barracks and war materials warehouses. The west wing buildings are constructed on two floors and in the center of the courtyard there is a large tank that collects the water from the roofs. During the Turkish occupation, the Firkas was used as barracks and as a prison and in our time, it is honored with the anniversary of December 1, the date of union of Crete with Greece in 1913, a celebration and ceremony by displaying the Greek flag.
Faros of Chania
Turning back time, to the era of Venetian and Ottoman rule we find that the city of Chania had developed trade and shipping. Because of the city’s geographical location and prevailing weather conditions, it created the need for the Venetian harbor. The Venetian Lighthouse of Chania is built on a natural water breaker rock. Initially it worked as an open flame torch while the architectural elements are attached to Cretan tradition and was shaped by the late Venetian period onwards, and since it has taken the form we see now. It resembles more of a minaret on the external appearance and the internal as well, as an internal staircase leads onto the balcony with the glass tower. For this reason, the experts cannot group the architecture with one of the standard beacons as it neither has residence for the guards because of the fact that it is part of a residential area. The height of the lighthouse reaches 21 meters while the light illuminates up to a distance of seven miles. It is a jewel of the city of Chania and trademark as well as a featured attraction in all the world’s travel guides.
Naval Museum of CreteAt the entrance of the Fortress of Firkas there is the Naval Museum of Crete. It was created in 1973, with the aim to preserve the marine’s wealth and traditions of the island of Crete and to boost its naval history. The exhibition of the Maritime Museum of Crete includes over 2500 exhibits among the relics, paintings, objects found on the seabed, maps etc. Important development of the Museum is the creation of a permanent exhibition of Ancient and Traditional Shipbuilding with main exhibit the copy of an ancient merchant ship from the Minoan period.
The Mediterranean Architecture Centre (Grand Arsenal)
Inside the Old Port of Chania, at the end of the 17 shipyards and towards the west is a magnificent building, the Grand Arsenal. Its construction starting about 1585 by the General Provisioner Alvise Grimani, however the Grand Arsenal has changed occasionally thus having specific features which justify the name “Grand”. In approximately 1872, during the Turkish occupation began a new era for the Great Arsenal. At its gates was housed the Christian Community School and at times it has hosted theater performances, it has also been used as a public hospital as well as City Hall. Today it has been renovated completely and turned into a stunning space for events and exhibitions. It hosts major events with an emphasis on architecture.
The orthodox church of Agios Nikolaos in Splantzia square ChaniaThe church of Agios Nikolaos, which was built around 1320, during the Venetian Period, was originally a part of the monastery of the Dominican Order. It is quite special as it is equipped with a tower as well as a minaret. During the Venetian period, it constituted the most important church in the city. After the predominance of the Turks in Chania the temple was turned into a mosque and was named Hiougkar Tzamisi (mosque of the Emperor), in honor of the sultan of the Ottoman Empire. Its importance is highlighted by the existence of two balconies instead of one on the minaret. In 1928, after being seized by the Christians orthodox, the mosque was once again turned into a church, dedicated to Agios Nikolaos.
Splantzia of Chania
Set in the quiet maze of back streets behind the hustle and bustle of Chania’s harbor, next to the Kastelli area, the former residence of the Pasha during the Turkish rule, is the Splanzia district; the Turkish quarter for over 200 hundred years of the occupation. The area is instantly recognizable for its prominent 1645 restored dome shaped Mosque on the waterfront and the spiraling Minarets that adorn the majority of the Christian Churches in the district. Chania old town is considered the most picturesque urban district in Crete. The main square which is the starting point of the old town is known as ‘Syntrivani’ (Fountain) as there is a fountain there. This is the heart of tourist activities, restaurants, cafes, museums, galleries, historic monuments and is full of life! Some of the more popular places there are the light house (which has been revamped and now you are able to enjoy a long walk to it), the Naval Museum, the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Museum, the Archaeological museum, the Turkish mosque (which now functions as an arts exhibit hall), the Municipal Art Gallery of Chania, the Jewish Synagogue and Halidon Street (the most famous street of the old town which leads down to the harbor front). The old town has a heart-warming atmosphere with many narrow alleys, pedestrian streets, charming old buildings most of which have been wonderfully restored. The city center of Chania is alive with the hustle and bustle of daily life activity and offers every type of facility, store and convenience you may require. As well being in a quiet location, it is superbly situated to visit any of the sites and places of interest in the town. Within just a few minute walk from the harbor, and close to the Municipal market, it makes the perfect base for today’s visitor to Chania. There are numerous excellent restaurants nearby and there is also a private car park with security just opposite the hotel. A couple of minutes in the other direction will take you into the heart of Chania’s shopping district, the leather market and the central bus station.
The Municipal Market, the huge building of 4,000 m² in the surrounding 17,200 square meters, is the “heart” of the city. Property and original thought is not only a great business center, but also a concrete illustration of the idea of the Agora of Ancient Greece. On 08.08.1908 the authority responsible for Market Committee announces to the Council the final draft of the building, the proposals for work (breaking of the fort, filling the trench, compensation to owners, construction sheds, etc.) and budget costs of the project (320.000 drs.).
The official inauguration took place by the then Prime Minister of Greece El. Venizelos on December 4, 1913, three days after the official ceremony of the Union of Crete with Greece.