The beautiful town of Chania (pronounced ‘Hanya’) was our base of operations whilst staying in West Crete. It proved to be an excellent starting point for our adventures, but also has a whole host of things to do and see for when we didn’t want to travel further afield…
We stayed in the Royal Sun hotel in Chania (highly recommended). I knew we’d picked the right hotel when I took in the view from the restaurant looking down into Chania town and the Old Venetian Harbour whilst eating my way through the breakfast buffet on our first morning.
The walk down the hill into Chania from the hotel took about 30 minutes (a bit longer when meeting various cats along the way!). There were some interesting things along the route; I noticed buildings like this – uninhabited and left as memorials after being bombed in World War II.
We popped by quickly to take a look at the Agia Magdalini Church.
Also this blue-domed church.
Once reaching the coast, there is a beautiful walk around by the sea to the Old Venetian Harbour.
I couldn’t get over how wonderfully clear and blue the sea seemed to be – so nice.
This Aviation Monument ‘The Fall of Icarus’ is poised above the sea on the way round to the harbour.
Old Venetian Harbour
The Old Venetian Harbour was built in the 14th century and contains a mix of Cretan, Ottoman and Venetian style architecture.
We spent quite a few hours over the course of our holiday strolling around the harbour, soaking in the sunshine and the views.
Alec taking a breather on the breakwater walkway to the lighthouse. I think I dealt with the heat better than he did 😛
The lighthouse at the end of the breakwater was originally built by the Venetians and reconstructed by the Egyptians to resemble a minaret (Islamic religious tower) at the beginning of the 19th century.
Nowadays the harbour is mostly lined with cafés, tavernas and small shops selling gifts and locally-made items. The central part of the harbour is the busiest, and touts from restaurants and cafés unrelentingly try to get your business. Luckily we have found that most of Crete is not like this!
This building is called ‘The Janissaries Mosque‘ – it is the oldest Ottoman building in Crete, being built in 1645 when the Turks captured Chania.
The main town is actually pretty manic – crazy drivers everywhere and pedestrians just throwing themselves into the road. Luckily we didn’t witness any accidents!
The shopping streets in Chania contain a surprising amount of recognisable shops mixed in with tourist shops and churches, including a Starbucks which we avoided and found a couple of much better coffee places called Coffee Lab and Kross Coffee Roasters.
The Orthodox Cathedral of Chania is right in the middle of the town.
This is the Old Chania Market. The building is in the shape of a cross and has entrances on all four sides.
There are cats all over Crete, which makes me very happy, as I am one of the most avid cat people you will ever meet! Whilst walking through Chania town we came across these two cats in particular which were talking to each other in their cute cat language. I swear my heart melted right then and there on the floor – too cute.
There was this sign nearby – so if you fancy helping out the homeless Chania cats, go right ahead!
We went to a restaurant one evening situated near to this minaret, so I snapped a photo as the sun was going down.
The Venetian Harbour was lovely to walk around after dinner – it felt pretty magical with lights from the tavernas twinkling on the water.
This view from the hotel restaurant after a day full of sunshine, cats and food was pretty special too – can you spot the lighthouse?
Chances are, if you’re thinking of visiting Crete you are looking at staying near Heraklion or Chania (as these are where the airports are). Chania is on the West of the island and I’d recommend it if you are looking more for beautiful scenery and beaches.
If, however, you are looking for a more historical visit (don’t get me wrong, great history is everywhere) and a bit of a calmer time, I would recommend visiting Heraklion on the East of the island – I went to Heraklion a couple of years ago if you want to check out my previous blog posts 🙂