Hania (or Chania GR: Χανιά) is the capital of the Prefecture of the same name and the second biggest town in Crete, with a population of 60.000 inhabitants. It lies (Coordinates 35°31' N 24°1' E ) along the North coast of the island, about 55 km west of Rethymnon and 140 km west of Iraklion (Heraklion). Hania's old town (although it was heavily bombed by Germans in World War II) is considered as Crete's most beautiful urban district, especially the Venetian harbour with its 16th century lighthouse and the Mosque of the Janissaries ("Giali Tzamissi", built 17th century). Many of the old buildings have been restored as hotels, restaurants, shops and bars, making the old town a lively and colourful place, especially during the tourist period.
The museum is housed in the katholikon of the Venetian monastery of St. Francis. During the period of the Turkish occupation it was the Muslim mosque of Yussuf Pasha, while in modern times it was used as a cinema or a storehouse for military equipment. Since 1963 it has been functioning as the Archaeological Museum of the city. Apart from the permanent exhibition, the museum houses temporary exhibitions in the frame of certain local events 25 Chalidon Str., tel. +30821 90334 It contains impressive finds from the excavations of the ancient city of Kydonia, from Idramia, Aptera, Polyrinia, Kissamos, Elyros, Irtakina, Syia, Lissos, Chania, Axos, and Lappa.
Chania lighthouse, the jewel of the city, is one of the oldest light houses, not only in Greece and the Mediterranean, but also in the world. The lighthouse (Faros GR: Φάρος) is a major attraction in the old port of Chania especially at night when it's lit up. The tower is 21m high and is built on a stone base, located at the end of the old harbour's pier opposite to the fortress of "Firkas". Visitors are not allowed to enter the tower. Chania lighthouse was first constructed by the Venetians around 1595 - 1601, and it took its final form, in the shape of a minaret, during the Egyptian Period (1831 - 1841) in around 1839. After the latest restoration, completed in 2006, it was given the formation of the Venetian period. The minaret look is still evident however.
At the magical and historical location of Profitis Ilias, in Akrotiri, at the east of Hania lays the tomb of Eleftherios Venizelos, one of the most long-standing prime ministers of Greece and whose political life was focused on doubling the size of Greek territory and on the creation of a contemporary State. Eleftherios Venizelos himself had designated this position to be his resting place before his death. For the visitor, it affords a panoramic view of the rich green plain of Hania, the imposing White Mountains, the Cretan Sea, the town of Hania and the Chalepa quarter which is the location of the house in which the great politician spent most of his life and today is the headquarters of the National Research Foundation 'Eleftherios K. Venizelos'.
The Market, impressive for its size and shape, is built in the shape of a cross with 76 shops grouped according to their wares in the four arms of the cross. The south façade is particularly well constructed out of chiseled limestone, in the architectural style of the local tradition, developed during the Venetian period. Its construction was completed in 1913 and the formal opening was made by Eleftherios Venizelos on 4th December 1913 as part of the celebrations for the Unification of Crete to Greece.
The temple Kioutsouk (small) Hassan or Giali Tzamisi (seaside mosque), as it was commonly called, a brilliant sample of Islamic art of the Renaissance was a work of an Armenian architect, who had constructed another similar mosque in 'Spaniako', a village in the county of 'Selino'. The mosque, in the yard of which there were palm trees and graves of pashas and janissaries, stopped operating in 1923 and today it is restored without the small and picturesque minaret demolished in 1920.
The wealth of archaeological material yielded by excavations conducted over many years by the 13th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities in the county of Chania, and also by retrieval of material and donations, forms a Collection that records, with great clarity, the history of the westernmost county in Crete from Early Christian times to the period of Turkish rule. Representative examples of this Collection are displayed in the church of San Salvatore.
The Franciscan monastery of San Salvatore, that houses the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Collection of Chania, was built on the west side of the fortress of Chania, in three phases from the 15th century until the late Venetian period (middle of 17th century). The extensive restoration of the church made it possible to identify more clearly the various building phases of the monument, unify the space, and display its austere, uncluttered architectural features to good effect. The original church, which probably dates from the 15th century, was the small domed section on the east side.
The fortress on the northwest side of the port was constructed to protect the entrance of the port and maintains its Turkish name "Firká" (Firka=barracks). A chain from "Firka" to the lighthouse blocked the entrance to the port in case of intrusion. The fortress was the headquarters of the Army Commander of the city.
After the scientific and administrative services of the Foundation "Eleftherios Venizelos" were transferred to the former Vloom Mansion, in 2005, the Venizelos residence remained the Foundation's headquarters and it has been converted into a Museum, a commemoration site for Eleftherios Venizelos. The residence bears the imprint of Eleftherios Venizelos and the building has maintained its original form, of the years he lived there. The furniture of the decade 1925-1935 was selected by Venizelos himself and his wife Elena, and was brought from Athens and abroad. Decorative objects and paintings of the period, original photographs and personal items of significant value decorate the interior of the residence. Website:www.venizelos-foundation.gr