Chania is one of the loveliest cities in Greece and the many vestiges of its past gives it a particular charm, a city full of life and people, especially during the summer months. Visitors never have to wonder what to do in Chania. There are an endless number of activities for archaeology buffs, history aficionados and nature lovers that will fill the days with enjoyable trips and tours.
Samaria Gorge is one of the National Parks of Greece and one of the major touristic attractions of Crete which is located to 42 km to south from Chania. It was created by a small river running between the White Mountains (Lefka Ori) and Mount Volakias. There are a number of other gorges in the White Mountains. The gorge is 18km long and is often claimed to be the longest in Europe, although this is disputed. The gorge starts at an altitude of 1227 m. at Xyloskalo near the village of Omalos(70 Km. from Chania) and ends after an 18 km walk to the beach at the village of Agia Roumeli on the south coast of Crete.
The Municipal Market
The extraordinary Market was built on the remains of the bulwark Pietta Formaan. It is in the centre of the city and has the form of a cross with 76 shops grouped according to their wares in the four arms of the cross. The market was built in 1913. With-in the market of Chania there are many shops, such as bakeries, grocery shops, fish, meat and cheese stores. In those shops one can also find many traditional cretan products. Even if you are not a fan of archaeology, it is worth visiting the Museum, just because its exhibits represent such a long period of time.
The Great Arsenali
This is the last and greatest construction on the west side of a complex of 17 shipyards. The construction of the Arsenali started in 1585 by the Commissioner General Alvise Grimani. Nowadays, it is the home of the Mediterranean Centre of Architecture and regular events and exhibitions are hosted there.
The Venetian Lighthouse
The Venetians initially erected the harbor lighthouse in 1570 and the Egyptians reconstructed it in 1830, after it had fallen into bad condition. The visitors of the Chania old city can enjoy a short walk perimetrically of the harbor wall to reach the Lighthouse. Entrance to the lighthouse is not permitted due to structural weaknesses of the building. There is a lovely cafe bar a few meters from the Lighthouse with great sunset sights.
The Ancient City of Aptera
The Ancient City of Aptera is one of the most important archaeological and historical sites in western Crete, located 16 km far from Chania at the Southeast of Souda Bay, near to the village Megala Chorafia with a good sight all around the area. It had been an active city-state since the Geometric period (8 th century b.C.). Due to its location it controlled exchanges and commercial activities; as a result it was one of the most important Doric city-states of Crete. One can also see the remains of a small first century B.C. temple of Demeter, a Roman theater and the enormous vaulted cisterns of the Roman period, preserved in excellent condition.
Monastery of Agia Triada Tsagarolon
The monastery of Aghia Triada is the bigger monastery complex in Crete, located to 16 kilometers to the northeast From Chania, at Akrotiri Peninsula, nearby the village of Koumares. It was founded in early 17th century by the brothers (both monks) Laurentios and Ieremias Tsangaroli. The most impressive part of the monastery is the front part of the church which is a pure architectural marvel; it is built of pink coral stones and has two large Doric columns and one small Corinthian one, framing the entrance. Also The Monastery played a main role to the Cretan revolts of 1866 and 1878, principally thanks to its very active abbot Grigorios Papadopetrakis.
The Public Garden (Kipos) is located in the centre of Chania city between Papandreou and Tzanakaki roads which was designed by the Turks in 1870 according to a European design. It encompasses a small zoo, a cafe, an open air cinema, and the city clock tower in the northeast corner.
Kioutsouk Hassan Mosque
The mosque of Kioutsouk Hassan, on the old harbor of Chania, is the only mosque preserved in the city and dates back to the second half of the 17th century. It was built by the Turks in 1645. Its architecture is particularly simple and includes a rectangle building with 4 arcs, which are surrounded by a big cupola. The mosque was heavily damaged by World War II bombings. At present it is restored but the small and picturesque tower close to it was demolished in 1920 (according to other sources in 1939). It has been occasionally used as an Archaeological Museum of Chania, a storehouse, a museum of folklore art and an Information Office of the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO), whereas recently it is used as an event and exhibition hall.
The Archaeological Museum
The museum is located on 21, Halidon St. and it is housed in an imposing building, the renovated Venetian church of Saint Francis. It houses objects from the Neolithic and Minoan to late Roman periods found in the prefecture of Chania. Opening times: Tuesday - Friday 8-19h Saturday-Sunday 8.30-15h Monday closed.
The Fortress of Firka
The fortress yet known with its Turkish name, Firca (Firka = barracks) was erected in the 16th century by the Venetian dominants of the island, in order to protect both the town and the port of Chania. It is a historic place for Crete in general and Chania in particular. In the period of the Turkish occupation and until fairly recently, Firca was used as military barracks and a prison. The flag of the Unification of Crete to Greece was symbolically raised on the corner watch-tower on 1st December 1913, Eleftherio Venizelo declared the incorporation of Crete to the territory of Greece. Today the fortress hosts the Maritime museum and a small theatre.
It is worth visiting the German military cemetery from World War II, where there have been put in the ground about 4500 German soldiers and officers who lost their lives during the Battle of Crete in May of 1941 and during the occupation of the island till 1945.