The prefecture of Chania covers the western section of the island. The prefecture is known as beautiful and mostly unspoilt part of the island. It has an area of 2,376 square km and approximately 134,000 residents, the second largest population in Crete, after Heraklion. Chania is subdivided into five provinces: Kydonia, Kissamos, Apokoronas, Selino, and Sfakia. The main cities of the prefecture are Chania, the capital, and Kastelli in Kissamos. The main towns are Paleohora and Kandanos in Selino, and Hora Sfakion in Sfakia. The prefecture of Chania offers a wide variety of tourist services and activities of all classes and types. The city of Chania has also maintained characteristics of the Venetian era. The Lefka Ori rise behind Chania and drop to the Libyan Sea in Sfakia and contain many gorges and canyons for the nature or hiking enthusiast. The sandy beaches and clear waters of Falasarna, Paleohora and Georgioupolis offer pleasant swims. The Minoan, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Turkish archaeological sites attract those seeking cultural and historical information. The province of Kissamos in the northwest of the prefecture of Chania lies between the two peninsulas of western Crete. It extends west to the sea and south to Elafonisi Island. Kastelli is the main city of this area. The city has a variety of tourist services. On the coastal road from Kastelli to Elafonisi Island you can see the wild beauty of western Crete. The beaches at Elafonisi, Falasarna, and Gramvousa are among the finest in Crete. The many Byzantine and Venetian churches, as well as the ancient cities of Polirinia and Falasarna, may be of interest to tourists. The peninsulas of Gramvousa and Spatha are mostly inaccessible by car. Hikers can enjoy some parts. The province of Sfakia occupies the southeast area of the prefecture of Chania. The Lefka Ori cover most of the area. The province includes the plateaus of Krapi, Askifou, Niatos, Anopolis, Aradena, and Kalikratis. Sfakia has the highest peaks of the Lefka Ori: Pahnes (2,450m); Kastro (2,218m), and Troharis (2,409m). This wild terrain is one of the most impressive in Crete. The visitor may enjoy the panoramic view going from Chania to Sfakia by road. Very impressive also is the Samaria Gorge excursion and the subsequent boat trip to Hora Sfakion. There are many interesting things for a visitor in the area of Sfakia. The beaches near Loutro, Agia Roumeli, and Frangokastello offer the clear waters of the Libyan Sea. The Byzantine churches of Agios Pavlos (in Agia Roumeli), Michael Archangelos (Aradena), Agii Apostoli (Hora Sfakion), and the Panagia Thymiani and Agios Georgios (Komitades) are of cultural interest. The ravines and gorges through Samaria, Aradena, Imbros, and Kalikratis afford excellent hiking opportunities. The mountain hike to the refuge and plateau at Niatos, 1,500 metres above Askifou, may interest the visitor. With more than 40 peaks above 2,000 metres, the Lefka Ori offer numerous superb hiking possibilities. The province of Selino is in the southwest part of Crete. It borders the Libyan Sea and the south side of the Lefka Ori. The two major towns are the capital, Kandanos, and Paleohora on the south coast. The name of Selino is derived from the Venetian castle, Selino, in Paleohora. Near Kandanos there are many interesting Byzantine churches. The town of Chania, which is also the prefecture's capital, has obtained a great reputation throughout history. Walking on narrow streets of the Old Town you taste the historical atmosphere, meeting the ornaments of Chania, the Venetian harbour and castle . The old town is also the centre of night life. While visiting Chania, you have the chance to visit many archaeological sites which still bring memories of the foreign occupation. Arabs, Venetians and Turks left their marks in the town of Chania. You will be really enchanted by its picturesque houses, churches and its special architecture. Furthermore, the prefecture of Chania has the greatest beaches in Crete! Sandy beaches getting wet by the crystal light-blue waters of Libyan Sea creating an unforgettable landscape. The islets and the mountainous villages give an exotic image to this part of Crete! If you love unspoiled beautiful nature, you should visit the famous Samaria gorge or the steep mountains of Chania, called White Mountains . Chania is the ideal vacations destination. Luxury hotels, villas or apartments are waiting for you so as to experience what you will never forget!
Places near Chania Prefecture
The Municipal Market of Chania is located in the centre of the city and is an iconic building of Chania. With its 4,000 sq.m. this is one of the most important buildings of its kind in the Balkans. Since 1980 it has been declared as a protected monument.
In this place there was once the main venetian bastion, Piatta Forma, which was the entrance to the city. Like today, until the early 20th century took place here an outdoor street market of the villagers of the surrounding area. In 1908 by decision of the Municipal Authority began plans to create a building that would house the market, and would give the city a more organized image. The construction of the building began in 1911, with plans to the standards of the Marseilles market, influenced by the architecture of the industrial revolution, and was completed in 1913 where it was inaugurated on 4 December 1913, three days after the union of Crete with Greece, by the Prime Minister, Eleftherios Venizelos.
The building consists of four wings with separate entrances, and joined together forming a cross shape in plan of the building. Inside of it are housed 76 shops consisting of butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers, a pharmacy and several shops with souvenirs.
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East of Splatzia Square of the old city of Chania is located the church of Agios Nikolaos, which was built before 1320, during the Venetian Period, as monastery of Dominican Order. During the Venetian period it constituted the most important church of the city.
It was elegant and big in capacity, with wide arches in the interior. After the predominance of Turks in Chania the temple was turned into mosque and was named Hiougkar Tzamisi (mosque of the Emperor), in honour of the sultan of Ottoman Empire, Imbraim.
Its importance is highlighted by the existence of two- instead of one- balconies on the minaret. In 1928, after being seized by the Christians orthodoxe, the mosque was turned into a christian church and has been dedicated to Agios Nikolaos.
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The clock tower of the city is located on the north-east part of the Municipal Garden. Its construction started in 1924 and ended in 1927 and constitutes one of the most remarkable buildings of the City of Chania.
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The Grand Arsenal is the last of the 17 Neoria to the west. Its construction started in 1585 by the Intendant Alvise Grimani. A new era began for the Grand Arsenal with the addition of the second flour in 1872 during the Turkish period. The building hosted several important public services and authorities.
Nowadays, it has been transformed from a roofless ruin into an impressive building that hosts various events and exhibitions. Since 2002, after its reformation, it hosts the Center of Mediterranean Architecture, organizing important cultural events, artistic exhibitions and international events related to architecture.
The modern city of Chania is founded in the site of a significant ancient Minoan settlement, Kydonia or ku-do-ni-ja as it appears on Linear B script. According to the tradition, Kydonia was one of the three cities founded by King Minos in Crete.
The settlement that is presently excavated in the city of Chania has as center the hill of Kasteli and is the most important of the prefecture. Large habitations with well-built rooms, elegant floors with circular cavities- fireplaces, coated walls with deep red mortar, door frames and ceramics of excellent quality are some of the findings that indicate the existence of a significant proto-Minoan centre. The extended excavations in the archaeological site of Kasteli, which constitutes one of the most important monuments of the prehistoric period of Crete, are carried out since 1966 until today by the 25th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities. Some of the most important findings of the excavation are available in Chania Archaeological Museum.
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Along the famous waterfront there are built numerous cafes, bars and a few traditional tavernas with wonderful views to the sea and a part of the Venetian Walls. The locals usually prefer this part of the waterfront to have a coffee in the evening or a first drink during the night.
The history of Kum Kapi starts during the last years of the Turkish occupation when the Arabs grew "Halikoutes", a small village, near a sandy beach and next to the Venetian fortifications. This district was called in Turkish "Kum Kapisi" (meaning Gate of the Sand) because of the Venetian Gate built there.
If you want to have a coffee in the Kum Kapi waterfront you can try the following cafe-bars; Elliniko at the start, Thema at the centre, Il Nostro at the end, and the rock-cafe Other Side near the end. There are also many choices for food like the first two restaurants at the start of the waterfront (O Aswtos Yios, Diachroniko) or the restaurant next to the Thema.
The area of Kum Kapi is quite near the old Venetian Town so that you can walk to get from the one place to the other. While walking , if you follow the seafront, you will meet more seafood restaurants (try the Dinos Restaurant) and cafes (try the Dio Lux).
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The rampart Sabbionara still preserves its Turkish name "koum - kapi (Kum Kapisi = the Gate of the Sand), is located on the northeast corner of the Venetian walls and is completely constructed in the sea. On the front of the rampart, the circular Venetian emblem of the lion of Agios Marcos is still preserved. It is the only preserved gate today and its external side had been modified during the Turkish period.
It is the only preserved gate today and its external side had been modified during the Turkish period. The port of Chania cannot be used by modern ships because of the shallow water, which contributed in preserving its old character, maintaining the signs of its conquerors till today.
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The Museum of the Greek National team is unique in Greece and one of the few that exist worldwide at national team level. Inside this museum, the history of the Greek National footballteam comes to life again and the visitor can learn it through the hundreds of objects and shirts of the current National team, as well as of previous teams.
Some of the most popular objects that somebody can see in the Museum are the shirts of the International Greek Team from historical games and more, the replica of the Cup from the European Championship 2004, the ticket of the final game Greece-Portugal, the ball from the game Greece-Nigeria 2-1, the unique victory of the National Team in the World Cup etc…
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