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Greece » Crete » Chania Prefecture » Chania Villages » Chania Town Sightseeing
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Chania Town Sightseeing

There are lots of things one should see in Chania. First of all, the old city itself is a monument. The samples of all architectural styles are well represented, sometimes mixed in an unexpected blend: Byzantine churches and remains of fortifications, Venetian quarters and public buildings, Ottoman mosques and castles. Crete has been a crossroad throughout its long history and Chania (and the other major cities of Crete) proudly present all this diversity and the traces of all cultures that passed from the area.

The Venetians have left to the city important constructions, as the Harbour with the impressive lighthouse at the end of the water break, dating back to the 16 th century, the Firkas castle and the dockyards, also of the 15 th century. The Venetian heritage is also evident in some of the quarters as Topanas, with the narrow medieval streets and the memories of the Venetian aristocracy who lived here, the Kastelli where the Venetian governor of the city used to have his residence, the Splangia with several churches.

The Ottoman domination is also present with the Hamam, built in the 17 th century, the mosque of Cucuc Hassan, the actual seat of the Prefecture, which was built by the Ottomans and served as hospital; the Municipal Garden, constructed by Reouf pasha around 1870 following the European style of gardens; today it also hosts a small zoo.

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There are a lot of interesting churches both Catholic and Orthodox: the most important among them are the Church of San Salvatore, possibly of the 15 th century, where it is actually housed the Byzantine and Late Byzantine Collection of the city; the church of St. Frangiskos, the greater Venetian church of the city where it is lodged the archaeological Museum of Chania; the Catholic church dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary; the Orthodox Cathedral Church, a basilica, built in 1860; the churches discarded in the quarters of the old city, mainly in Splangia.

It is also worth seeing the Jewish quarter, built in the medieval style with narrow streets and Venetian style houses and the synagogue.

Don't miss to visit the quarters of Halepa and Kum Kapi. Halepa is a beautiful historic quarter, where had lived Eleftherios Venizelos and there was the palace of Prince George, the High Commissioner of Crete from 1898 to 1905. At the same place there were located the Consulates of the great powers during the 19th and the early 20 th century. It is there that in 1876 it had been signed the "Convention of Halepa", in which the Ottoman regime granted a semi-autonomous status to Crete.

Kum Kapi is out of the eastern walls of the old city. In the past it was a quarter of ill repute, but lately it has been restored and now it is a haunt for young people due to the cute cafes and the nice taverns and restaurants established there.

Don't forget to stroll around the Municipal Market, a cross-shaped building where you may find all the local products; also pass from the "stivanadika", the stores selling "stivania", the traditional boots; maybe you will have the chance to see the shoemaker on work.
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The city has six Museums: The Archaeological Museum is housed in the Venetian Church of Aghios Frangiscos (St. Francis); artifacts found in excavations of all over the area and covering all periods of ancient history are lodged in the Museum: Neolithic and Minoan pottery, pots and statuettes, clay tablets with Linear A and Linear B scripts, Geometric pottery, Hellenistic sculptures and Roman mosaic pavements. Even if you are not a fan of archaeology, it is worth visiting the Museum, just because its exhibits represent such a long period of time.

The Byzantine Collection of Chania is housed in the church of San Salvatore; there are exhibited artifacts of all the periods of the Christian era in Crete: from Proto- Christian mosaics, Byzantine frescoes to coins and architectural sculptures of the period of Venetian domination, as well as pottery and jewelry.

The Folk Museum is made up basically by the private collection of Aspasia Bikakis and Irene Koumandarakis. It is housed in the arcade of the Catholic Church. There are exhibited costumes, house equipment and tools along with needlework and embroideries. There is also a reconstruction of a traditional house, as well as representations of various professional activities of the past times, mainly agricultural ones.

The Maritime Museum is lodged at the entrance of the Firkas Castle. There are several exhibits about the naval history of the area; navigation instruments, ship models, items pulled up from the sea etc.

The Museum of the Historic Archives of Crete is lodged in a neoclassic building at the center of the city. Here there are collected various documents, maps, photographs, souvenirs and trophies of various periods of the medieval and modern history of Crete. One of the halls is reserved to Eleftherios Venizelos; there are exhibited personal souvenirs, documents and other items. The Museum has also a considerable library with more than 6.000 titles; a good archive of press is also found here.

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The Chemical Museum of Chania is housed at the building of the Chania Chemical Service. The Museum has an important library orientated to chemistry with many rare books and writings. Also one can see there the reconstruction of the first public chemical laboratory, as it was when it worked in the beginning of the 20 th century; the old equipment and instruments give a full idea of how it was like a laboratory of this kind.

The War Museum: As Cretan people were in war conditions for long periods of their history, it is not possible not to have a museum reminding these struggles. It is housed in a building of the 19 th century (1870) and the exhibits present the war activities of the Cretan people throughout the modern history, both in Crete and elsewhere out of it. There is a very good collection of rare photographs and valuable souvenirs of the wars for the freedom of Crete, but also of the Balkan wars and the World War I and II.

Several cultural activities are organized by the Municipality of Chania and by other organizations. In May, when the anniversary of the Battle of Crete, it is organized a Conference for Peace; at the same time an International athletic meeting, known as "Venizeleia" takes place.

On August there are organized various cultural activities with plays, concerts, exhibitions of painting, photography etc., which are presented at the open theatre of the Eastern Moat, at the Firkas castle and elsewhere in the city. There is also a sculpture symposium with international participants.
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