Crete: Chania & the Old Venetian Harbour

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.

View from the Royal Sun hotel over Chania

Around Chania

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.

Old building damaged by WWII

We popped by quickly to take a look at the Agia Magdalini Church.

Agia Magdalini Church

Also this blue-domed church.

Blue-domed church in Chania

Once reaching the coast, there is a beautiful walk around by the sea to the Old Venetian Harbour.

Beach and foliage in Chania

I couldn’t get over how wonderfully clear and blue the sea seemed to be – so nice.

Clear blue waters in Chania

This Aviation Monument ‘The Fall of Icarus’ is poised above the sea on the way round to the harbour.

The Fall of Icarus Aviation Monument in Chania

Old Venetian Harbour

The Old Venetian Harbour was built in the 14th century and contains a mix of Cretan, Ottoman and Venetian style architecture.

Walkway to the lighthouse at the Old Venetian Harbour

We spent quite a few hours over the course of our holiday strolling around the harbour, soaking in the sunshine and the views.

Old Venetian Harbour View from the lighthouse at the Old Venetian Harbour

Alec taking a breather on the breakwater walkway to the lighthouse. I think I dealt with the heat better than he did 😛

Alec sitting by the water at the Old Venetian Harbour

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.

Lighthouse at the Old Venetian Harbour

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!

Boats at the Old Venetian Harbour Buildings and restaurants at the Old Venetian Harbour

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 Janissaries Mosque at the Old Venetian Harbour

Chania town

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 Square of Sintrivani

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.

Shopping street in Chania

The Orthodox Cathedral of Chania is right in the middle of the town.

The Orthodox Cathedral of Chania

This is the Old Chania Market. The building is in the shape of a cross and has entrances on all four sides.

Old Chania Market

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.

Cats in Chania

There was this sign nearby – so if you fancy helping out the homeless Chania cats, go right ahead!

Homeless cats sign in Chania

We went to a restaurant one evening situated near to this minaret, so I snapped a photo as the sun was going down.

Minaret in Chania

The Venetian Harbour was lovely to walk around after dinner – it felt pretty magical with lights from the tavernas twinkling on the water.

The Old Venetian Harbour at dusk

This view from the hotel restaurant after a day full of sunshine, cats and food was pretty special too – can you spot the lighthouse?

Sunset from the Royal Sun hotel

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 🙂

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