Today we’re in Chania, a beautiful coastal city influenced by the Ottoman conquerors mixed with the charm of Crete. We’re going to take a stroll through the old town, visit a market, and stop at a war cemetery, but first we’re going to pay tribute to a man who was one of Greece’s most important political figures.
His name is not one that easily rolls off the tongue. Elefthérios Venizélos is fondly remembered throughout Greece. While his tomb is here in Chania, his legacy spans far and wide. In fact, the international airport in Athens is named for him.
Venizélos was a prime minister of Greece on more than one occasion. A liberal, he is remembered as the “maker of modern Greece.” There’s extra benefit of coming to the final resting place of Elefthérios Venizélos. The park where he was laid to rest provides a beautiful overview of Chania and its harbor.
Crete has been fought over for centuries. In fact, the Venetians conquered Crete in the 13th century. Their influence is evident to this day, particularly as you stroll along the gorgeous Venetian harbor in Chania. Don’t be shy about striking up a conversation with the local shop-keepers, some of whom sell their goods from their boats.
While Chania has the feel of Venice, its Ottoman past is also present, both in the Turkish Sector and along the waterfront. The Turks pushed the Venetians out of Crete in the 17th century, which explains why that among all the Venetian buildings, you’ll find the Mosque of Hassan Pasha on the waterfront in Chania.
Chania is a gorgeous town, perfect for strolling. As you walk through Chania, you can hardly miss the cathedral dedicated to Virgin of the Three Martyrs, the patron saint of Chania. During the Venetian period, an earlier church existed on the same site. When the Ottomans came, they transformed the cathedral into a soap factory. The boiler for the soap ingredients was situated where the bell tower now stands.
Before ending your stay in Chania, be sure to take a peek inside the agora, or the marketplace. It is situated in a beautiful building influenced by the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century.
I really enjoyed time here in Chania. Walking along the waterfront, I was reminded of Venice. Then I saw a mosque and I was reminded of Istanbul. What you have here is the influence of the Venetians, the Ottomans, and of course, the Greeks, all set on this beautiful, rugged coastline. I loved Chania, and I know you will, too.
An avid traveler and an award-winning journalist, Ralph Grizzle produces articles, video and photos that are inspiring and informative, personal and passionate. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralph has specialized in travel writing for more than two decades. To read more cruise and port reviews by Ralph Grizzle, visit his website at www.avidcruiser.com.