Chania is a breathtaking city on the northwest coast of the island of Crete. The city is historically significant and a hotspot for young and modern Greeks, making it the perfect vacation spot. Chania is a city with something for every traveler!
History of Chania, Crete
In the city of Chania, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman buildings coexist in the city landscape. As far as Muslim architecture is concerned, one of the most emblematic corners of the city is the famous Mosque of the Janissaries.
The mix of architectural styles creates a stimulating but still largely harmonious skyline. However, there is more to it than meets the eye when it comes to the history of Chania; the city has probably been inhabited since the end of the Stone Age, or the “Neolithic period”.
Excavations near and within the city have revealed some of its history to modern-day Greeks, and archaeologists have been able to find evidence of the city’s Minoan history as well as its more distant past. . The modern city sits on the site of the Minoan settlement named Kydonia, which gave its name to the quince fruit.
The first era of Byzantine rule lasted from AD 395 to 824, and the city was briefly ruled by Arabs for about a century. They renamed the city “Al Hanim” (the inn) before it was taken over by the Byzantine Empire, which went back to calling the city by its Greek name, Chania.
After the Fourth Crusade (1204) and the fall of Byzantium to the Hellenic region, the city was again conquered by foreign powers. This time, Venice began to rule Chania, renaming it “Chania” and strengthening its fortifications, giving Chania the shape it still has today.
Finally, the Ottoman Empire defeated the Venetians at the start of the Cretan War, taking control of Chania. New mosques and bathhouses were built in the city, adding to the beautiful landscape that can still be seen today.
During the 19th and early 20th centuries, inter-ethnic violence in Crete eventually led to the mass migration of the island’s local Muslim population to other Mediterranean islands or coastal towns. Massive conversions also took place. The population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1922 resulted in the deportation of the island’s last Muslim residents.
The best beaches in Chania
The prefecture of Chania is home to some of the most beautiful beaches on the island of Crete.
Falassarna on the west side is well known for its privileged location, ideal conditions for water sports and unique sunsets. The beach is just outside of town and can be reached by car or bus. However, the trek is worth it to discover one of the most beautiful and well-known beaches not only in Crete but in the whole country.
To the south, the famous Elafonisi beach is located. The beach is about an hour and a half drive from the main town, but you’d be hard pressed to find a tourist who doesn’t make the effort to visit. The beach features crystal clear waters and magical pink sand, making it look like it was conjured up in a fairy tale – definitely not to be missed!
For the more adventurous, the Gramvousa Peninsula and the unique landscape of Balos Beach are well worth the trip over the dirt road.
Perfect for tourists
Chania is the perfect place for a family, romantic or even solo trip. The city is diverse and has something for everyone, as well as being very convenient for travelers, with several direct international flights arriving daily.
Travelers to Chania can expect to have enough cultural and local activities available, with the possibility of spending several days with these activities. However, the town also has plenty to offer the more laid-back tourist, with beautiful beaches and world-class restaurants abounding in the town.
A visit to the municipal market, or Dimotiki Agora, is not to be missed, as it is a great opportunity to observe the traditions of the island.
Considered an architectural gem and one of the most important public markets in the region, the Municipal Market offers visitors the opportunity to stock up on excellent quality local products.
Olives, honey, spices, herbs and cheese are some of the Cretan products often bought by tourists.
Additionally, visitors can visit the magnificent historic Janissary Mosque. Located in the old Venetian port, the mosque was built on the grounds of an old single-aisled church. It no longer functions as a religious building and remains the oldest structure from the Ottoman period.
Also known as the “Kucjk Hassan Mosque”, the construction dates back to 1645 when the Turks captured Chania; it is the oldest Ottoman structure on the island.
The building ceased to function as a mosque in 1923 and has since been used as a café, restaurant and tourist office over the years. In the recent past, the mosque was renovated, becoming a space dedicated to exhibitions.
Hiking the unique Samaria Gorge is another fun activity to do in Chania. The fifteen kilometer (10 mile) long walk takes you through a stunning UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and some of the most unique landscapes in all of Greece.
Where to stay in Chania Crete
One of the best places to stay in Chania, if it is impossible to visit all of Crete, is the Chania Flair hotel. The adults-only hotel is a new facility and was completed in 2020, making it a perfectly modern property. It offers all the comfort you could think of!
Its location and adult-only status make it very peaceful. Located in Nea Chora, Chania, Flair is in a quiet location yet still within the city. It is located a few steps from the beach and the Venetian port is also easily accessible on foot. Chania Flair manages to be both central and peaceful, which makes it perfectly placed in the city.
The five-star hotel impresses with its elegant design, high-quality furnishings and prime location between the sandy beach, the city and the old town.
“Chania Flair is neither a typical city hotel nor an isolated resort,” says Labros Tsiledakis, Executive Director of Chania Flair. “It’s the new approach to relaxing holidays: feeling the pulse of a romantic Venetian port city and at the same time enjoying a relaxing and regenerating beach holiday!” With the quality guarantee of Corissia Hotels.”
In the hotel building you will find spacious lounges with a garden area, as well as a 24-hour reception.
In the living room and the sun terrace on the top floor, you can enjoy a magnificent panoramic view of the bay of Chania and the White Mountains of Crete with a drink of your choice. In the Rooftop Fitness Studio you will find state-of-the-art equipment where you can train for free with a magnificent view of the sea.
Chania Flair is a CO2 neutral hotel with very high energy efficiency and climate neutrality thanks to state-of-the-art construction and the use of sustainable and renewable energy sources.