Chania (Greek: Χανιά) is the second largest city of Crete and the capital of the Chania regional unit. It lies along the north coast of the island, about 70 km west of Rethymno and 145 km west of Heraklion.
The official population of the municipal unit (the former municipality) is 53,910, while the municipality has 108,642 inhabitants (2011). This consists of the city of Chania and several other towns and villages, including Kounoupidiana, Mournies, Souda, Nerokouros, Daratsos, Perivolia, Galatas and Aroni.
Why travel to Chania?
Chania and the long row of beach resorts stretching 20 km west along the beaches of the Chania bay is a well visited destination for Scandinavian charter trips. Chania, being the nearest city, is an attractive destination for sightseeing and shopping for many tourists. Here is plenty of opportunities for eating and drinking on Greek tavernas and modern cafés that are open into the night.
The old town is centered around the harbor, it is a maze of alleys and houses that has been standing for many hundred years rebuilt, ruined and built up again with details from the different epochs. Old town is full of souvenir, art and crafts shops; the new quarters house the regular span of shops, here you can find the most of your needs for the hiking or other adventures. The beaches begin in the city a bit away but not far from the old town. Nearest one is Nea Hora, a 1 km. walk from the west end of the Old Town.
The municipality of Chania was formed in the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following seven former municipalities, that became municipal units.
- Eleftherios Venizelos
- Nea Kydonia
- Ionas Boutique Hotel
- Porto Veneziano Hotel
- Royal Sun Hotel
- Chrispy World Hotel
- Kydon Hotel
- Samaria Hotel
- Anemos Luxury Grand Resort Hotel
- Asterion Hotel
- Avra Imperial Beach Resort & Spa Hotel
- Cretan Pearl Resort & Spa Hotel
- Galini Sea View Hotel
- Georgioupolis Resort Aqua Park & Spa Hotel
There are several museums, art galleries, theater and music groups, educational and research institutions within the city.
The most important museums in Chania are:
- Archaeological Museum of Chania in Saint Francis Monastery. It houses findings from different parts of the county and from several historical and prehistorical periods of the local history (Neolithic to Roman)
- Folklore Museum (Old Town)
- Historical Archive (the second most important in Greece)
- Nautical Museum of Crete (Old Town)
- Municipal Art Gallery
- Byzantine/Post-Byzantine Collection (Old Town)
- House of Eleftherios Venizelos
- War Museum
- Museum of Chemistry
- School life museum
- Museum of Typography, Chania
Several theater groups are active in Chania with the most important being the Municipal and Regional Theater of Crete (DI.PE.THE.K). The repertoire includes old and contemporary plays from Greek and foreign writers. The Venizelian Conservatory of Music (“Odeion”, established 1931) is also one of the most important cultural societies in Crete. A recent attempt from the municipality to create a chamber music group named “Sinfonietta” has been successful and its performances throughout the year have enriched the cultural event calendar of the city. There is also a significant community of people who focus on alternative/indie music as well as jazz and bands performing modern musical styles. A number of traditional (Cretan) musicians are also active in town.
There are five cinemas (two of them open-air), concentrating both in commercial and independent movies and occasionally organizing small festivals.
During the summer period a variety of cultural events take place on a daily basis. Theatrical plays, concerts and several exhibitions from Greek and foreign artists are organized either by the municipality or by individuals. A venue which hosts many of these events is a theater located in the east bulwark of the Old Town (“Anatoliki Tafros”). Also, several festivals, conferences and sport events take place in Chania, especially between May and September. The Venizeleia athletics competition is one of the most noteworthy events of the year.
A major role in the city’s cultural life is played by the Municipal Cultural Corporation of Chania (DI.P.E.X.) which organizes a significant part of the events taking place throughout the year. There are a French, a German, an Italian and a Swedish consulate in Chania.
Avra Imperial Beach Resort & Spa accommodates a new conference complex facility of the highest standards consisted of 10 “state of the art” conference halls of flexible function space that can accommodate up to 1900 persons, covering 2000 sq.m. meeting and exhibition space.
The main conference hall, ¨Maistro¨, is an 886 sq.m. contemporary, pillar free, conference hall with a capacity of 1100 persons which can be also separated into two smaller rooms, equipped with the latest conferences and banqueting facilities.
Technical facilities: Paramount audiovisual equipment, touch screen automation system, Dome Cameras, Data Projector LCD 12.00, ceiling Data projectors, electric screens, Video, Video cameras, DVD player, Audio amplifiers & ceiling speakers, Congress microphone system – BOSCH, wireless microphones, DVD, Business Centre, intercommunication among conference halls and free internet (wireless & wired) in all halls provided.
Hall Name: Spatha (350 sqm, 350 pax), Grambousa (160 sqm, 160 pax)
Delegates: 400 pax
Delegates: 450 pax
Chania is the site of the Minoan settlement the Greeks called Kydonia, the source of the word quince. Some notable archaeological evidence for the existence of this Minoan city below some parts of today’s Chania was found by excavations in the district of Kasteli in the Old Town. This area appears to have been inhabited since the Neolithic era. The city reemerged after the end of the Minoan period as an important city-state in Classical Greece, one whose domain extended from Chania Bay to the feet of the White Mountains. The first major wave of settlers from mainland Greece was by the Dorian Greeks who came around 1100 BC. Kydonia was constantly at war with other Cretan city-states such as Aptera, Phalasarna and Polyrrinia and was important enough for the Kydonians to be mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. In 69 BC, the Roman consul Caecilius Metellus defeated the Cretans and conquered Kydonia to which he granted the privileges of an independent city-state. Kydonia reserved the right to mint its own coins until the 3rd century AD.
Byzantine and Arab era
The early Christian period under Byzantine rule (First Byzantine Period, 395–824 AD) and the rule of the Arabs, who called the settlement Al Hanim (the Inn), are not well documented. Under the Arabs, the Christian population was persecuted and moved to the mountains. The Byzantine Empire retook the city in 961 AD (Second Byzantine Period, until 1204 AD). In this period the Arabic name of the city was changed into Greek Chania. Byzantines began to strongly fortify the city in order to prevent another Arab invasion, using materials from the ancient buildings of the area. By this time Chania was the seat of a bishopric, which would be known under Venetian rule as Roman Catholic Diocese of La Canea and later become the Latin titular see of Cydonia.
After the Fourth Crusade (1204) and the fall of Byzantium in the Hellenic area, Crete was given to Bonifacio, Marquess of Montferrat. He in turn chose to sell it to the Venetians for 100 silver marks. In 1252 the Venetians managed to subdue the Cretans but in 1263, their rivals of Genoa, with local support, seized the city under the leadership of Enrico Pescatore, count of Malta, and held it until 1285, when the Venetians returned. Chania was chosen as the seat of the Rector (Administrator General) of the region and flourished as a significant commercial center of a fertile agricultural region.
The Venetian rule was initially strict and oppressive but slowly the relations between the two parts improved. Contact with Venice led to close intertwining of Cretan and Venetian cultures, without, however, the Cretans losing their Greek Orthodox nature. The city’s name became La Canea and its fortifications were strengthened, giving Chania the form that it still has today. On the other hand, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, many priests, monks and artists took refuge in Crete and reinforced the Byzantine religion and culture on the island. The city of Chania during the period that followed was a blend of Byzantine, Venetian, and Classical Greek cultural elements. Many of the important buildings of the town were built during this era and the intellectual activities (written word, music, education) were also promoted.
During the opening months of the Cretan War (1645–1669) the city’s walls did not prevent an Ottoman army from capturing it from the Venetians after a two month siege. Muslims resided mainly in the eastern quarters, Kastelli and Splantzia, where they converted the Dominican church of St Nicholas into the central Sovereign’s Mosque. They also built new mosques such as the Küçük Hasan Pasha Mosque or Yali Mosque on the harbor.Public baths (hamam), and fountains were a feature of the Ottoman city. The pasha of Crete resided in Chania.
The city remained under Ottoman control despite fighting during the Greek War of Independence (1821-29), the Cretan Revolt (1866–1869) and the Cretan Revolt (1878). Due to the island’s mixture of Muslim and Christian residents, Crete was the subject of international debate between the European great powers, most notably at the Treaty of Berlin (1878) which resulted in the Pact of Halepa. During the 19th and early 20th century inter-ethnic violence on Crete eventually led to the mass migration of the island’s local Muslim population to other Mediterranean islands or coastal cities. Mass conversions also occurred. The population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1922 resulted in the deportation of the island’s last Muslim residents.
In 1898, during the final moves towards independence and enosis—union with Greece—the Great Powers made Chania the capital of the semi-autonomous Cretan State (“Kritiki Politeia”), with Prince George of Greece, the High Commissioner of Crete living here. During these years Crete issued its own stamps and money. This was a very important transitional period when, no longer an isolated vilayet of the Ottoman Empire, the city became more cosmopolitan and flourishing, regaining its role as the crossroad of civilizations, influenced by Europe as well as by the East. Many important buildings were built during this era, intellectual and artistic societies were created and a new class of local aristocracy brought a different atmosphere to the everyday life of the town. The district of Halepa has many fine neoclassical embassies and consulates dating from this period.
However the main goal was enosis with Greece which came after Eleftherios Venizelos’s constant opposition to Prince George’s rule over Crete. The series of conflicts includes the Therisos revolt in 1905, which overthrew Prince George and brought Alexandros Zaimis to rule Crete. Finally, in 1908, Venizelos managed to establish a revolutionary government, recognized by the Great Powers. His later election as the prime minister of Greece (1910) eventually led to Crete’s union with Greece on 1 December 1913, following the Balkan Wars. The Greek flag was raised for the first time at Fort Firka in the Old Harbour in the presence of Venizelos and King Constantine.
Due to the popularity of Venizelos, Chania as with most of Crete remained staunchly pro-Venizelist, pro-Liberal and later pro Republican in the National Schism and the interwar period. The only attempt to overthrow the monarchist Metaxas Regime occurred in the city with the failed 28 July 1938 uprising.
DnD Travel offers you the opportunity to book any vehicle of your choice with a simple e-mail or phone call one day before your arrival at Chania. Otherwise we can advise you some means of transport for your convenience below.
The city is served by Chania International Airport (IATA code: CHQ) on the Akrotiri Peninsula. The airport is named after Daskalogiannis, a Sfakiot hero who was skinned by the Ottomans in the 18th century.
There are several flights a day from Athens to Chania, with Aegean Airlines and Olympic Airlines. From April to early November, there are many direct charter flights to Chania from the UK, Germany, Scandinavia and other European countries. It has recently become a Ryanair hub connecting Chania to over 20 European and Domestic destinations.
As of 2015 the tourist season is extending with the support of Ryanair who now offer 29 routes from Chania to destinations around Europe as well as all year round twice a week flights to Paphos Cyprus. This opens up new opportunities for expats and tourists to be able to get to Chania in winter, transiting via Paphos rather than Athens. All year round now both Ryanair and Aegean Airlines offer many daily flights direct to Athens. With its choice of city breaks, beautiful beaches, stunning mountains Chania in Crete is a very popular all year round destination, with Chania staying open all year round even if many of the smaller beach resorts are closed in winter. Many North European expats have made Chania their choice of home, in particular expats from countries such as the UK and Norway. For all the flight information on all year round travel do see flights to Chania where you can get all the latest flight routes.
As of 2015 you will also see a huge expansion underway at Chania Airport with a new terminal being built. All year round you will find car hire facilities, taxis and much more.
There are half-hourly buses which can take you from the airport to the center of town. Buses are arranged around arrivals of flights and the journey to Chania Central Bus Station takes about 20-30 min. Otherwise you can take a local taxi at approx. 18-24 euros or book an airport transfer in advance.
Take a ferry
Ferry services from Athens (Piraeus port) to Chania anchor at the nearby port of Souda. Daily ferries, one ordinary with ANEK LINES and one fast catamaran with Hellenic Seaways.
Take a bus
Chania is connected with the rest of Crete by regular bus lines operated the KTEL company. The coaches are modern, comfortable and air-conditioned. Fare is reasonable. Public transportation is fairly frequent and timetables quite trustworthy. Bus services along the north coast and towards the south coast are excellent, reliable, frequent and cheap. Bus fare to Rethimno is around seven euros (two hours), Heraklion 14 euro (three hours). If you pay on the bus, be sure to examine your change as there have been reports of conductors giving the old 500 lira coin back instead of the 2 euro coin.
Take a car
Highway E75 (A90) goes along the North coast of Crete from Heraklion to Kissamos, it goes by the southern outskirts of the town. The old road, that still has the name 90, is parallel to the new highway and is the main road through all the small resorts west of Chania.