The picturesque city of Chania is the second largest city of Crete, after Heraklion, with more than 60,000 residents. Fortunately it did not follow the same fate as the other cities of Crete, e.g. Heraklion, where the great Venetian and Ottoman monuments were destroyed for the sake of economic growth and "modernization". Instead, the Old Town and the Venetian Harbour have remained almost intact, giving the city a special Venetian character, unique in the Mediterranean. Thus, the visitors of Chania are attracted by the beauty of the scenic narrow streets, the imposing lighthouse at the entrance of the small harbor and all the amazing monuments that make up the transcendent magic of Chania.
Chania is believed to be built on the site of the Minoan Kydonia, as shown by the excavations in Kastelli hill. Chania developed substantially in the Byzantine era, when it was fortified. Later, the Venetians turned the city into a great castle with strong walls, for which you can read here. After the Sultan Abdul Mezit visited Crete in 1850 and decided to construct a naval base in the gulf of Souda, the capital of Crete was moved from Heraklion to Chania (till 1971). After the liberation of Crete from the Turks in 1898 and during the Cretan State autonomy, great buildings were built in the city and the suburb of Halepa. The glory of Chania reached its peak during the hoisting of the Greek flag in the fortress of Firkas in 1913, marking the final Union of Crete with Greece, after centuries of slavery. Chania played also an important role in the outcome of the struggle against the Germans in World War II, as the nearby airport of Maleme was the epicenter of the glorious Battle of Crete. Chania was the last European city to be liberated from the Germans in April 1945.
From Chania came Eleftherios Venizelos, the greatest politician of Greece, as with its successful policy as prime minister of Greece he managed to triple the territories of Greece in the early 20th century. The tombs of the Venizelos family are set in a magical site east of Chania, with panoramic views of the city.
Some attractions of Chania are the old town, the Venetian harbour with the old lighthouse, the mosque of Kucuk Hasan, the pedestrian road of Kum Kapi, the shipyards, the great Arsenal which houses the Center for Mediterranean Architecture, the central market, the hill of Kastelli with the old Palace and the Minoan settlement, the picturesque district of the Ottomans called Splantzia, the church of St. Rocco, the cathedral of Chania, the archaeological museum, the beachfront of Nea Chora district, the Maritime Museum of Crete in Fort Firkas, the Prefecture and the Courts, the graves of Venizelos family, the house of Venizelos in Halepa, the Allies' Cemetery in Souda, the Historical Archive of Crete, etc.
The city is served by Chania International Airport on the Akrotiri Peninsula. The airport is named after Daskalogiannis, a Sfakiot hero who was skinned by the Ottomans in the 18th century. Souda, some 7 km (4 minutes) from Chania, is the city's port, with daily ferries to Piraeus and a hosting a major Greek and NATO naval base.