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Chania in west Crete
The city of Chania on the north-western coast of Crete has taken to calling itself "The Venice of the East." It is a name that is well-deserved, given that Chania is considered to be one of the loveliest cities in Greece and one of the most picturesque places on the whole of the Mediterranean Sea. Many people from all over the world visit Chania if only to drink of its beauty.
But aside from its innate aesthetic splendour, Chania has held a significant position in Cretan history, politics, culture and commerce and it used to be the capital of Crete in the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century.
A Brief History of Chania
Archaeological discoveries have revealed that Chania sits on the site of the ancient city of Kydonia. The great poet Homer wrote that Kydonia is one of the greatest cities that were ever established on Crete.
According to Cretan myths and legends, Kydonia was built by Kydon. Some legends place Kydon as the son of Hermes, whilst others say that he is the son of Apollo. Whoever his father is, Kydon was borne of Akakalis, a daughter of the great King Minos.
In ancient times, Kydonia was the most powerful city-state in west Crete. Its power was such that other city-states on Crete often challenged its supremacy. The conflict and rivalry between the Cretan city-states are the factors that gave Quintus Caecilius Metellus the advantage he needed to conquer Crete. And conquer he did in 69 BC.
The rulers of Kydonia changed hands every time an empire rose and fell. When the Roman Empire collapsed, Kydonia, along with the rest of Crete, came into the hands of Byzantine rulers. The Byzantine rulers were then replaced by the Venetians, who eventually replaced the name Kydonia with Chania. In the 17th century, the Venetians were expelled by the Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman Turks stayed for almost 300 years before the Cretans claimed their freedom and united with Greece.
Chania in the Modern Age
Today, Chania is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Crete. It is also an important centre of trade and commerce on the island. Around 80,000 people reside within its boundaries.
Though the economy and development of Chania has been propelled upward by the constant tourist influx, the city has nonetheless managed to preserve its ancient heritage. The heart of the city remains the Old Town, the labyrinthine section of Chania that was built many centuries ago. At the entrance of the Old Town, visitors will find the Sintrivani Square, where the locals gather to socialise over a drink or a meal.
It is a consensus amongst visitors to Chania that the most beautiful part of the city is the Venetian harbour. The Venetian harbour is what gave Chania the impetus to call itself the Venice of the East. The elegant promenade that stretches the length of the seashore allows a visitor to enjoy the serenity of the sea with the Lighthouse standing guard. Along the harbour are various bars and taverns that offer the finest of the local cuisine.
Chania is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in Crete. The beauty that Chania holds is the kind that lingers in one's mind.
Read more about Chania.