Chania, a beautiful and picturesque city, is the main town in the west of Crete, with the islands second largest population. It was the capital of Crete until 1972, when Heraklion took over the role. Chania is divided into two parts, the New Town, where the day to day business goes on, with its shops, offices, post office and banks, and the Old Town, built around the Venetian harbour consisting of numerous picturesque narrow streets, and with its architecture displaying the influence of many decades of foreign domination.
In the evening, the old harbour becomes the centre of life in Chania, where people come to have a drink and watch the world go by. Although you pay a premium to eat in one of the harbour side tavernas, it is an experience that is hard to resist, but if now and again you explore the the narrow winding streets at the back of the harbour, you will find many excellent tavernas at more reasonable prices.
At the far end of the harbour is the Firkas fort which was a fortress during the Venetian occupation. On 1st December 1913 the Greek flag was raised there in celebration of the reunification of Crete with Greece. Today the fort is home to the Naval Museum. Opposite the Firkas fort, stands the magnificent Venetian lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in the 16 century and later restored by the Egyptians. The harbour itself is protected by a Venetian breakwater, constructed from enormous rocks.
Recent archaeological digs on the acropolis of Kasteli have uncovered remains of a significant Minoan community. Known as Kydonia, it was one of the most important cities on Crete right up to the Arabian seizure in 824 AD. The Venetians purchased Crete in about 1204 but lost it to the Genoese between 1267 and 1290. In 1252 the city of Chania was rebuilt on the site of the Byzantine acropolis, then after improving the fortifications at Kastelli, the Venetians built their own cathedral plus a number of palaces and houses in the surrounding area. In 1645, after a two month siege and after sustaining terrible losses, the Turks overwhelmed the whole island. Chania became the Turkish capital on Crete, and its churches were converted to mosques. The Turks were expelled in 1898 when Prince George became the High Commissioner for Crete. His regency was short lived, for soon after, Crete became part of the Greek state. In World War II, Chania sustained severe damage throughout the city, except, thankfully for the area around the harbour.
There are a vast number of cafes and bars in and around Chania, varying in popularity from month to month. Some are very modern whilst others tend to be more traditional. You’ll find a wide range of music played from popular Greek, jazz, Latin, hard rock, Euro pop, whatever you want, you’ll find it somewhere in town. Nightclubs tend to come and go, often changing their name and decor from season to season. Most tend to start late, winding down at about 5 a.m.