Old City of Chania
Old City of Chania: The melting pot of Venetian, Ottoman and Jewish architectural styles, and an experience hard to forget
A visit to the Old City of Chania is one of the essential experiences for every visitor in Crete. The Old City of Chania is the old part of the city that surrounds the Venetian Harbour of Chania.
With its narrow, winding alleys, and its architectural styles of Venetian, Ottoman and Jewish origins, the Old City of Chania is a place with remarkable contrasts, yet extreme harmony.
Halidon Street – the “main street” of the Old City of Chania
Halidon Street is the best place to start your exploration in the Old City of Chania. Here you can find the old Venetian church of San Francesco or “Agios Frangiskos” in Greek. This old, stone-built building was one of the finest and grandest during the Venetian era. During the Ottoman occupation it was converted to a mosque. Now it is being used as the Archaelogical Museum of Chania City, with many interesting findings from every part of the region of Chania.
Across the church of San Francesco in Halidon Street, there is a small, picturesque square, and at its farther end stands the Chania Cathedral of The Three Martyrs. The Cathedral square is a rare place in the Old City of Chania, where there is open space. The Cathedral building is impressive, although it is a relatively recent building – it dates from the 19th century. However, its temple and some parts of the Cathedral building date back to the 14th century.
On both parts of Halidon Street you can experience some of the best the Old City of Chania has to offer: picturesque, centuries-old renovated buildings, beautiful small hotels, small traditional stores, people visiting from every part of the world, it is hands down the best place to take a stroll in Chania city.
The shops and the Municipal Market in the Old City of Chania
From the Venetian era, the Old City of Chania served as the commercial centre of Chania city. Although today there are many shops in the modern part of the city, the Old City of Chania is still the commercial centre for the traditional, most authentic products of Chania.
In Sklidroff Street, you can find many small stores selling leather goods, which Chania is renowned for, and which are made by traditional methods. In this especial part of the Old City of Chania, you can find the durable “stivania” boots, which were used in the past by Cretans in the mountainous, rocky parts of the island.
To the east of Halidon Street, you can find the Splantzia quarter, with its characteristic old buildings with wooden balconies. Today, in Splantzia there are many stores selling collectible knifes, which traditionally are expertly crafted in Crete by experienced masters.
Finally, at the southeaster edge of the Old City of Chania is one of the landmarks of the city, the Municipal Market. The Market is a building dating to the beginning of the 20th century, and it has a distinct cross-like shape. Some historians believe that it was modelled after the Marseille Market of the same shape. Inside the Municipal Market, you can find all kinds of local produce, from olive oils to traditional cheese, fruits, vegetables, various kinds of meat, fishes, herbs, etc. – the variety of products is impressive.
The Old City of Chania is a unique place all over the Mediterranean Sea, where entire squares of the Venetian and Ottoman eras are saved until our times, with many of these building being “alive”, as they are used as museums, shops, taverns, cafés and small hotels. An essential place to visit in Crete, the Old City of Chania still retains much of its past glory, attracting more than a million visitors from all over the world every year.