Venetian Harbour of Chania
Venetian Harbour of Chania: A masterpiece of its kind, a melting pot of civilizations, and a unique place in the entire world
The Venetian Harbour of Chania is the absolute landmark of Chania city and West Crete.
Expertly built in the 14th century, the Venetian Harbour of Chania was constructed for commercial purposes, and for protection from pirate raids, which were frequent at these days. The Venetian harbour had a capacity of no less than 40 Venetian galleys.
The Inner Venetian Harbour of Chania
Towards the east, is the Inner Venetian Harbour of Chania.
After the small boats and fishing vessels that are moored in the harbour, on the corner of the harbour we see a unique building of Ottoman origin, with a very interesting roof. This is the Kioutsouk Hasan mosque, or Yali Tzami, one of the most characteristic buildings in the Venetian Harbour of Chania. Kioutsouk Hasan mosque was built in 1645, the exact year Chania city fell to the Ottomans.
After about 100 metres from the Kioutsouk Hasan mosque, we find the Big Arsenali, the first of the Neoria buildings. Neoria in ancient Greek means shipyards, and this exactly was the use of these buildings in the Venetian era. Later, during the sieges of Chania city, the Neoria were used as huge storehouses for the necessary food supplies of the city.
After a few minutes’ walk we get to the beginning of the old sea wall that protected the ships that were moored in the eastern part of the Venetian Harbour of Chania.
Through a route that passes upon the sea wall, you can reach the Arabian Lighthouse on the edge of the sea wall. A very characteristic building, the Arabian Lighthouse was built by the Venetians and restored by the Egyptians in the beginning of the 19th century.
The Outer Venetian Harbour of Chania
Going west to the outer Venetian Harbour of Chania, we find many taverns and cafés bustling with life during the summer months.
The prominent building in the Outer Venetian Harbour of Chania is Firkas fortress, on the edge of the harbour, just across the Arabian Lighthouse. Firkas fortress was used as a fortress during the Venetian era and as a prison during the Ottoman occupation. Today, the Maritime Museum of Chania is hosted inside the fortress.
Firkas fortress also hosts a summer theatre. The inner part of the fortress is impressive, providing very good view to the sea and to the Venetian Harbour of Chania. Firkas fortress is a historic building, as it was the exact place where the Greek flag was raised again, after many centuries, in 1913, the year the reunion of Crete with Greece took place.
The Venetian Harbour of Chania is a superb sight, a grand sample of the fine construction capabilities of the Venetians. At the same time, it is a place full of historic memories, where the Greek, the Venetian and the Ottoman civilizations stand side by side, each one complementing the others.
Together with the nearby Old City of Chania, the Venetian Harbour of Chania is a unique place in the entire world, as more than a million visitors discover every year. When visiting the Venetian Harbour of Chania, you can live this select experience more vividly when you consider the everlasting love of the human race for the sea.