Travelguide > Places > Chania Prefecture > Chania

Chania is located in the north-west of Crete, capital city with provincial charm. There is a very nice old town around the Venitian harbor with many restaurants, taverns and shops.

The last years many old houses were rebuild. All parts of the old city are reachable by walking. Full of life but not so hectic atmosphere like in Heraklion.

The market hall (Agora) is a landmark of the city and an experience for your senses.

Many churches in the old part of the city and alleys from the upper part of the old town to the harbor.

The new name Chania of the old city of Kydonia is met first as "Cania" in 1211. Then the name "Canea" is mentioned in a document which relinquishes the Hania area to the Venetians in 1252.

Historically and archaeologically, the hill of Kasteli is one of the most significant parts of the city. It has been inhabited since Neolithic times. Excavations have brought to light remains dating from the first Minoan period (2800-2000 B.C.). The houses of that period were large with well constructed rooms. The walls and floors were painted with red colour. The area was also inhabited in the Post-Minoan period (1450 - 1100 B.C.).

Kythonia was a powerful city-state, whose domain extended from Hania Bay to the feet of the White Mountains. Kythonia was constantly at war with other cities such as Aptera, Falasarna and Polyrrinia. In 69 B.C. the Romans defeated the Cretans and conquered Kythonia to which he granted the privileges of an independent city. Kythonia reserved the right to mint its own coins. The Roman conquest put an end to the civil wars and a period of peace began, unique in the history of the island.

The occupation of Crete by the Arabs was effected gradually from 826 to 961. The consequences of the arrival of the Arabs in Crete were rather painful for the local population, who were subjected to a long and horrible period of slavery, resulting in the alienation of Crete from the Byzantine empire. In 961 Crete was back under the control of the Byzantine empire (961-1204).

The first action of the Byzantine empire, after reconquering Crete, was to re-establish their authority and power. The defense of the island had to be organized quickly in order to avoid any Arab attempt to take back the island. Strong fortifications are constructed along the coast and at strategic positions. The hill of Kasteli is fortified with a wall along its perimeter. This was constructed with materials taken from the ancient city.

After the 4th Crusade and the dismantling of the Byzantine empire (1204), Crete is given to Bonifacio, the Marquis de Monfera. He sold it to the Venitians for 100 silver marks. Hania was chosen as administration city of the region and flourishes as a significant commercial centre due to the fertility of the land.

The Turks (1645-1898), after a two month siege, conquered the city of Hania on 2nd August 1645. A new state of affairs prevails in the city, where churches are turned into mosques and Christian fortunes come to the hands of the conquerors. The Turks reside mostly in the eastern districts, Kasteli and Splanzia. Besides turning catholic churches into mosques, they build new ones such as "Kioutsouk Hassan Tzamissi" on the harbor. They also build public baths (Hamam) and fountains. In 1821 many Christians were slaughtered and the Bishop of Kissamos hanged in Splantzia. In 1878, the Treaty of Halepa is signed and the Christians are granted certain rights.

In 1898, the autonomous "Cretan State" is established and the city of Hania flourishes as the Capital of Crete.