The second-largest town on Greece’s largest island, Chania is the lively capital of the western half of Crete, and was formerly the islands capital until 1971. The atmosphere has a touch of Florence and Venice combined with the culture and character of Cretan traditions. The city encompasses two distinct parts, the old town, and the modern city which is the larger of the two. The Venetian Harbour, the old port, the narrow shopping streets, old buildings of Venetian and Turkish design, waterfront restaurants and Cafes, museums, churches and crafts shops are the major element of city. In addition Chania is surrounded by numerous rich options for sightseeing, exploration and discovery.
Chania can be traced back to the Neolithic period, when its first inhabitants created a settlement which gradually grew into the largest city in west Crete. With a rudimentary harbor, prosperity came, given the economy of Minoan Crete was sea based, they developed a flourishing industry and accumulated wealth through trade. These inhabitants built the great palace of Kydonia. The Romans conquered Crete in 67 BC and held it until it was annexed in I330 AD by the Byzantine Empire. In 828 AD the whole island fell into the hands of Saracens, who razed Chania to the ground. Once more the Byzantine Empire recaptured the island 961 AD. In 1204 the Venetians annexed Crete, and later rebuild Chania. The harbour was improved with shipyards, resulting in Chania became an important commercial center. The use of the Venetian town plan, gave it the air of a European city. In 1645 the Ottoman Turks conquered Chania and destroyed much of the city. Rebuilt to suit the tastes of its new inhabitants, the Turks erected public baths, converted churches into mosques, and built new mosques with minarets, giving the city an Eastern air. In 1898 the “Cretan State” was established, under which Crete remained part of the Ottoman Empire, but under the protection and guarantee of the Great Powers. Chania was proclaimed the capital of Crete. After almost three centuries of occupation, the Turks finally withdrew for good in 1913, and Crete was finally incorporated into the Modern Greek State.
Erected in 1645 when the Turks captured Chania, this mosque is the oldest Ottoman construct in Crete. The building ceased functioning as a mosque in 1923, and was partially destroyed under bombardment during the Second World War, losing its minaret. Today this historic structure houses exhibitions from time to time.
During the Turkish period, the Splantzia was the Turkish quarter.Its distinctive feature is its square with the church of Agios Nikolaos part of the old Dominican friary, which was converted into a Mosque Turkish period.
Many of these historic buildings along Zambeliou, Theotokopoulou and Angelou streets are now have been converted into outdoor cafes and restaurants.
Captivating Rethymnon is the capital of Prefecture. It’s famed for its medieval architecture and its lovely Venetian port. Throughout its Venetian-Ottoman maze of ancient streets, you’ll find floral canopies high above you, elegant houses, baroque ornaments and centuries-old minarets.
Chania - Kourna Lake - Rethymno - Olive Farm
We start from Souda port and drive along the coastal highway, enjoying the clear blue sea and the green countryside, typical of west Crete. The amazing scenery will captivate you till you reach your destination, the only freshwater lake in Crete.