One rarely finds a place so full of historical memories, which unfold before our eyes with exquisite skill through the architecture of the buildings looking onto the Venetian harbour, bearing scents from past times, drawing the visitor into a nostalgic game of the senses, a mixture of East and West. The modern restaurants, cafés and bars add to the charm of the harbour, providing the necessary notes of life and familiar comfort throughout the year.
A stroll in the town’s most enchanting area
Chania’s Venetian Harbour was carefully built in the 14th century for commercial purposes and for protection against pirate raids. Today it is a point of reference for the city of Chania, and a much-photographed place with a touch of magic! This city hub is filled with cafes, restaurants, tavernas serving local delicacies, bars, pastry stores and art shops as well as monuments referring to various historical periods. You will find there is a balanced mixing of Cretan, Ottoman and Venetian elements, beautiful narrow alleys across the old town and amazing architecture. The old harbour area beckons you to enjoy a carefree journey through time as you explore it. Shall we then?
The old port is a fascinating place any time of the day or year, as the sun creates a variety of visual effects and gives the impression you see a different place each time you visit it! Start your walk at the NW part of it where you will see the imposing Lighthouse, the ‘jewel’ of the harbour. To your right lie the Firkas Fort built by the Venetians in order to protect the port entrance. There is a captivating brick-coloured building at the Fort entrance which once housed the Venetian naval guards. Nowadays you will find the Maritime Museum of Crete with a valuable collection of naval objects providing insight into the rich history of Chania and W. Crete. Right after that, walk along Angelou St., an upward alley which is one of the loveliest backstreets of the Topanas quarter. Feast your eyes on the Venetian architecture typical of the 16th and 17th centuries. If you fancy some more strolling, walk along the streets that begin from the coast and lead to the most beautiful part of the old town of Chania.
The history of Chania Venetian Harbour
The Venetian harbour of Chania was built by the Venetians between 1320 and 1356. The harbour was used for commerce and also to control the Sea of Crete against pirates. The Venetian harbour had room for 40 galleys, but it constantly silted up and was never very deep, so it kept having to be dredged, a difficult job with the equipment of the time. On its north side the harbour is protected by a breakwater. Near the middle of this is a small bulwark like a gun emplacement and the tiny chapel of St Nicholas. This was where the Venetians and Turks executed condemned prisoners.
The Firkas Fortress at the harbour entrance and the St Nicholas bastion in the middle of the breakwater defended the harbour from raiders.Today, the Venetian harbour offers moorage for fishing boats and other small craft, while the commercial and passenger port of Chania is seven kilometres to the east, in Souda Bay. The lighthouse is a distinctive feature of the harbour. It was built at the harbour entrance by the Venetians and restored in its present form by the Egyptians (1830-1840). The lighthouse of the Venetian harbour of Chania always fascinates visitors and is one of the most-photographed monuments in Crete.
- Municipality of Chania: +30 28213 41600
- Airport of Chania: +30 28210 83800
- Hospital of Chania: +30 28210 22000
- Police Station: +30 28210 25856
- Port Authority: +30 28210 98888
- Post Office: +30 28210 28444
- Tourist Office: +30 28210 92943
- Archaeological Museum: +30 28210 90334
- Byzantine Collection: +30 28210 96046
- Folklore Museum: +30 28210 90816
- Nautical Museum: +30 28210 91875
- War Museum: +30 28210 44156