HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

OF THE CITY OF CHANIA

Historical Monuments

Historical monuments > Historical Monuments

The Government House Complex

The complex of the Venetian Government House, called Palazzo, located at the northern end of Kastelli, at the end of the road Lithinon. Today survives the ground floor and part of the floor, while on the side of the road Lithinon survives the doorframe on which is written the date 1624. Near this, it was the Ottoman Government House and the Prison, currently housing the services of theTechnical University of Crete.

Mediterranean Architecture Centre (Big Shipyard)

It is the last building to the west of a complex of 17 shipyards of the Venetian harbor of Chania. Founded in 1585 and during its operation housed theatrical plays, was used as a school of Christian community as a public hospital, but also as the town hall. Today it houses the Center of Mediterranean Architecture.

The Gate of the Mansion Renier

In byway Theofanous, in the old town of Chania, is the Mansion Renier. Although it has had several interventions over time, many architectural parts retain the glamour of the Venetian period, including the homonym Gate, on which stands the inscription: “Many things he brought, done and studied, the sweet father, who worked hard. May he rest in peace, 1608.

The Church of St. Catherine

A short distance from Agios Nikolaos in Splantzia there is the two-transept church of St. Catherine and St. John the Hermit. Its erection is calculated around the second half of the 16th century. During the Ottoman rule was used as a bakery, but also as a workshop until its expropriation and restoration by the Archaeological Service.

The Monastery of Santa Maria dei Miracoli

The Monastery of Santa Maria dei Miracoli (Monastery of Virgin Mary of Miracles) built in 1615 by Marussa Mengano for the Dominican nuns of Chania on the hill of Kastelli. The complex included an enclosed courtyard to the south and east, while it was a one room church. The biggest part of the monastic complex was demolished by the bombings of 1941.

Church of Agion Anargyron

Founded during the years of Venetian rule, the three-transept church of Agion Anargiron is located on the southeastern edge of the old town of Chania. The north transept is dedicated to the Holy Anargyrous, central to St. Artemio and southern Haralambos. It is the only Orthodox Church remained in operation after the fall of Chania and it served as the cathedral until 1859.

Prophet Elias

The temple of Prophet Ilias is located in the “Froudia” location and was built during the period of the Venetian occupation. Initially, the smaller southern aisle of the Prophet Elisha was built. In the middle of the 16th century, a larger church was added, after an arched communication opening was built in the original north wall.

The temple was destroyed during the bombardment of the hill by the Great Powers and was restored at the expense of the Tsar, who considered that the explosion of a cannon on the Russian flagship was the Prophet Elijah’s punishment for the destruction of his temple.

During the last revolution (1897) in the area of Prophet Ilias, the Cretan Revolutionary Camp was established. On the morning of the 9th February 1897 a skirmish between Christians and Turks had begun. Eleftherios Venizelos was in negotiations with the heads of the European Powers, while the Turkish military commander for the first time visited that day the flagships of their warships anchored outside the port of Chania. Around 3.30 p.m. the signal was given by the Italian flagship and terrible shots and mortars began to fall against the trenches throughout the area and especially on the Prophet Elias, where the Greek flag was flying, gift of the grandson of Admiral Kanaris to Eleftherios Venizelos and the then archimandrite Chrysanthos Tsepetakis for the Revolutionary Camp of Akrotiri. The bombardment was continuous – many shells fell from Christians against Christians. And in the storm of fire “…a piece of bullet brought down the flag, but the brave commander Mich. Calorrizikos ordered that she be restored. However, the fearless soldier Spyros Kayaledakis, in the midst of the hail of high-ball shells, grabbed the short and raised the flag in its forward position… Shortly after the flag was raised, the fire of the battle stopped, and at the same time the European televsions fell silent…” (Georgiou A. Sifaka “The Rebels” Akrotiri Camp – Diary and Minutes 1897″).

This event that characterizes the Revolution, the self-sacrifice of the Cretan warrior hero who put his body against the volleys, a living shield of the great Ideal, a sacred pillar of the National, is also represented by the large statue that adorns the space.

In the landscaped area and next to the church, the Ethnarchis Eleftherios Venizelos and his second son Sophocles Venizelos, Leader of the Liberals and Prime Minister as well, are buried. On the Ethnarch’s tomb is recorded his funeral, which he delivered himself in 1932. On the south side of the tomb is inscribed verbatim the text:

“The deceased in question, dear friends, was a true man of great courage and self-confidence both for himself and for the people he was called to rule. Perhaps he made many mistakes but he never lost his courage, he was never a fatalist because he never expected fate to see his country advanced but he put at her service all the fire that he had within him, every mental and physical strength.

Epitaph self-proclaimed by the deceased in question in the Hellenic Parliament on April 28, 1932”.

Ottoman fortress (Koules) Apteras

The fortress of Aptera was built by the Ottomans after the Revolution of 1866, as part of a program to connect Crete with a network of fortifications, towers and fortresses. It was located at the Paleokastro site, in the ruins of Ancient Aptera, near the village of Kalami, and communicated with the fortresses of Souda, Izedin and the Kouledes of Kalivo and Niou Chorio.

It was the largest P-shaped fortress complex of its time and was equipped with two towers facing the west (it controlled the passage to Kerameia) and the east (towards Kalyves). It included a variety of areas including barracks, officers’ quarters, storage, imprisonment, food preparation and catering.

The Cathedral of the Virgin Mary (Trimartyri)

The current cathedral of the Entrances was built on the site of an older church of the Virgin, which dates back to the 14th century. When Chania was occupied by the Turks in 1645, the temple was turned into a soap factory, but without changing its layout.

Until 1868, the temple, as a soap factory, allegedly belonged to the well-known Turkish official Mustafa Pasha Giritli (Cretan). An icon of the Virgin Mary with a sleeping candelabrum was kept in the area of the oil warehouse, according to Mustafa’s order.

Tradition states that the soap factory was wrecked and abandoned, while the icon of the Virgin Mary was taken with him by the last craftsman. When Mustafa became prime minister, under Sultan Mejit, the Christian Community asked for the site to build a church again. Mustafa, influenced by various personal events, granted the space. The sultan sent 100,000 grossia and Mustafa’s son, Veli Pasha (Commander of Crete at the time), 30,000 grossia. With the strengthening of the Christian Community and despite the problems caused by another Ottoman, the church was finally erected.

The construction of the church was completed in 1860 in the form of a three-aisled basilica with a raised nave covered by a pointed chamber. The side aisles are covered by cross vaults and are divided in height by the gynekonitis. In the north-west corner of the church is built the tall spire. The architectural elements of the temple are more closely related to the tradition formed during the years of the Venetian occupation with the carved pessos, the cornices and the frames of the openings. The eastern wall of the church is decorated with large and impressive hagiographies works by G. Kalliteraki, G. Stavraki, E. Tripolitaki and D. Kokotsi. The image of the Entrances of the Virgin was also returned to the church, while the following text was engraved on the upper part of the facade:

“The Mother of God Naon, O Diavata you see,

The child was raised by the faithful of the church,

Fleeing birds timidly in the midst of a tempest

Under this wing of the heavenly canopy.”

The temple, inextricably linked to historical events, was an asylum and refuge for those persecuted from time to time during the national uprisings. It was seriously damaged during the bombing of the city by the Germans in May 1941.

Venetian Harbour of Chania

During the Venetian and Turkish rule, Chania had a fairly developed trade and shipping. Not only the import, but also the export of products and various articles was remarkable. Corresponding to the movement of trade was that of shipping, although relatively few ships operated due to the lack of a wide and safe harbor. From then on, it was generally accepted that the open bay of Chania, exposed to weather conditions, was not particularly suitable for a port. In fact, the natural port of Souda served relevant needs quite satisfactorily. With the capture of the city by the Genoese, the need to create a port was once again confirmed and thus the local authorities were obliged to start actions for its construction. During the Venetian rule, in 1302, the matter was put to the government by Rector Marino Gradenigo and he finally accepted the proposal.

The harbor was first built between 1320 and 1356, when requests for repairs from the city’s agencies began. A major problem was the fact that the harbor was unsuitable and that its eastern basin suffered from siltation created by rainwater or sewage. The ships came and left in a port that was small and relatively shallow and vulnerable to the north and west winds. Thus, the officials’ reports often mention the work being carried out, but also the need to clean and dredge the eastern main basin.

After the revolution of Agios Titos, in 1363/64, the port was abandoned and that of Heraklion was used, since Rethymnon had similar problems. During the Venetian rule, in 1515, there is a reference to the dredging of the basin in the Chanio port and the construction of a wall with ramparts along the jetty, which is founded on a series of reefs that made the port inaccessible to ships.

But in 1645 the city falls into the hands of the Turks after a siege. As is known, the conquest of Crete was completed in 1669, after a 25-year war, with the capture of Khandaka, Heraklion. The new conquerors did not show much interest in the maintenance of the port of Chania, which was left completely abandoned. It was not repaired or maintained, with the eastern basin of the port remaining virtually useless throughout the Turkish occupation.

During the years 1831-1841, Crete was granted to the Viceroy of Egypt Mehmet Ali in exchange for the services he rendered to the Sultan during the Revolution of 1821 in Crete and the Peloponnese. Then the value of the port is recognized and how much it can help to improve the local economy. Mehmet Ali is said to have instructed Mustafa Pasha to clean the Chania harbor basin, repair the jetty and build the Lighthouse. Repairs were indeed made to the jetty and dredging in its basin, works which cost (in 1838) 1,146,000 grosci.

Since the years of the Cretan State, the development of the port has been gradually expanding, which has been completed in recent years. In an old publication about the city of Chania at that time, it is mentioned that “The city has mostly cobbled and narrow streets, a small square of Mavrovounia Kalumeni (formerly Sandrivani) and a paved waterfront. The port of Chania is small and relatively shallow, accepting steamships of small capacity in its waters, and is very vulnerable to attack by north and west winds. At its entrance, on the left as far as the diver is concerned, there is a lighthouse with a stationary white light visible from a distance of 12 miles…”.

Topchanas & Jewish district

The Jewish quarter of Chania was located in the northwest of the city, behind the port. Its main street was today’s Kondylaki Street, where there were the houses of prominent Jews. The Synagogue of Kehal Hayyim is preserved along Kondylaki Street. Gerola, based on Coronelli’s map, identifies this Synagogue with the church of Agia Catherine and accepts that it was a Synagogue in a second use.

The building is single vaulted, and to the south it has two small spaces associated with the Jewish ritual. All the Jews of Chania were exterminated in World War II, when the ship they were on sank off the coast of Chania.

After the occupation of the city of Chania by the Turks (1645) a new situation was formed. Turks live mainly in the eastern districts of Kastelli and Splantzia. The Christians have their residences mainly in the Topanas district, in the northwest of the city, named after the Venetian powder magazine (Turkish: Top-Hane) at the beginning of Theotokopoulou Street.

At the end of the 19th century, the district has fine houses and narrow streets but also preserved Venetian buildings that “maintain the atmosphere of medieval silence and half-light, which helps in retrospection and reminiscence”. Formerly the Consulates of the Great Powers were located there, before being transferred to Chalepa. Now the various centres of the waterfront are offered for the social gatherings of Chanians, with the band playing on festive days.

On the northwestern side of Topkhanas rises the fortress of Firka (military unit, division).

“A fairly spacious barracks, very well maintained, occupies the inner part of the old fortress, resting on the old walls. And under these walls spreads a spacious and beautiful, but still unkempt square, the curbs of which are wetted by the tired waves of the sea. Some nice houses rise to the left of the old fortress and a nice brewery with the current name of Aktaion is the biggest competitor of the Municipal Garden, as the center of Chania. In that Aktaion where Klonaridou beer is offered in the summer, with the music of the flame covered the dissonances of a rested violin and a long-suffering piano, the summer evenings are spent by Chaniots debating and Chaniotissas graceful and elegant.

Hoogiar Jamisi

The great monastery of the Order of Dominican monks in Chania was built around 1320 by the brotherhood of Candia, which requested in a document the import of unseasoned timber for this purpose. Architecturally it follows the model of the Central Monastery of St. Peter. The monastery, as we know it from depictions on old maps, photographs and descriptions, consists of the church with the high bell tower and a double gallery on the north side. From the complex today, the catholic church and a part of the western portico on its northern side (Chatzi Roussou Vourdoumba Street) survive altered.

The temple was a basilica with a transept, which ended in a tripartite step without an arch. The central part of the sanctuary and the solaea is housed by large cross vaults with sharp ribs and the lateral compartments of the sanctuary by pointed arches. The rest of the temple was timber-framed with a gable roof. On the west wall of the southern part of the transept there is a later confessional in the form of a manier doorway. Externally, the temple is supported by high buttresses built into the masonry. The north-western compartment of the sanctuary, which is today housed with a cross-shaped dome, is the rest of the base of the high bell tower. In this part of the temple, research work was carried out by the Archaeological Service, which revealed interesting information about its original form. From the middle of the transept an arched opening, which was formed later with the addition of a doorway in second use, led to the gallery with the cells. Today the enclosed courtyard and the north side of the two-storey portico are preserved. The ground floor consists partly of a covered portico, which is covered by cross vaults and has rooms on the first floor. In the centre of the courtyard there was a small tank.

During the years of Ottoman rule, the temple was converted into the Hoogar Jamisi, which was the central mosque of the city. Its importance is emphasized by the existence of two instead of one exostas (serifes) in the minaret, which was built in the southwest corner of the temple. The morphological elements of the minaret are interesting because they follow the Venetian tradition, still fresh in Crete.

In the square in front of the mosque, an underground fountain was built in the 18th century for the necessary ritual rites. In 1918 the Orthodox of Chania occupied the church and established it in honour of Saint Nicholas. Then a large semicylindrical arch was added on the eastern side. In the 1950s an unfortunate attempt to restore the church led to the replacement of the wooden roof with a new concrete structure and the division of the interior with concrete colonnades.

Square 1821 – Splantzia

It was the predominantly Turkish district of the city. In old drawings it is referred to as “Ponte de Viari” and was to the Turks what the fountain was to the Christians.

Under the huge plane tree (the place of execution of Christian martyrs during the Turkish occupation) and the elegant Arabic pavilion, in the centre of the quarter, an underground water tank with hydrants had been built in the past, to which one could descend by three stairs.

“Passing narrow and narrowed streets, bending under arches – heavy and sad remnants of the old conquerors – you come out in Splantzia, Splantzia all red with Turkish fezzes. Splantzia is the Turkish square of Chania. All around, turkish houses are raised with framed windows and dovecotes on the frame. The square is a piece of living turquoise in the capital of Crete. There are Turkish cafes and shops around and Turkish people dressed well and Turkish people barefoot, niggers burnt, with arms and legs as if they had been galvanized by work, sipping their coffee in big cups or discussing with lowered voices and bowed heads.

In the middle a Turkish gazebo rises in a small and flowering garden. That’s where the prefects, the Turks and the beys go and drink their coffee and argile. An old plane next door stands serious and melancholic like a hodja… The whole Turkish square full of flowers and branches and basil and dew and freshness…

Across the street a mosque (Hoogiar Jamisi which means: Monarch’s mosque, dedicated to the Sultan) pointing to the sky with its white minaret… This between a glass of water and a cup of coffee in the square of the Turkish neighbourhood, among the Turkish people lying on their backs, black niggers, Turkish children jumping on the caldera and the chanamish women who cavort majestically with their black umbrellas open. ..

At other times in the black years that have passed, in this square the Christian martyrs of Cretan Freedom were put to death and their limbs were cut from the branches of the plane tree to serve as a target for the Turkish sifters… Now the square is a tame centre to which the Christian who goes there is sure to receive great and above all sincere treatment. Splantzia is in its glory during the great Muslim festivals, when the people finally go there to congratulate their fellow Turks. The music of the Gendarmerie is playing, fireworks are burning at night, there is unique entertainment…”.

A little further up, in an alley, the church of Agioi Anargyroi is preserved, while behind “Petaladika Street”, today’s Tsouderon Street, is the Aga tzamisi, the mosque whose minaret is preserved today in the Malinakis factory.

Kastelli

The low hill of Kastelli, to the east of the port, was an ideal location for the establishment of a prehistoric settlement of ancient Kydonia, not only because it is adjacent to the sea, but also because it is surrounded by the rich Chaniotiko plain. The pottery of the transitional Neolithic period (3,000-2,900 BC) is the earliest evidence of human activity on this hill.

In the position of Kydonia, which continued to maintain its strategic importance and on the Kastelli hill, a fortress was later built by the Byzantines, which in many places stands on the ancient wall and has been constructed from the building materials of ancient Kydonia.

In 1252 the city and the prefecture were divided into 90 “cavalaria” and given to the Venetian colonists with the explicit obligation to rebuild the city of Chania. They repaired the wall of Kastelli and organized the city within its boundaries. Within the fortified enclosure, which is being repaired, a new town is being built with a modern town plan, beautiful public and private buildings. The public buildings are developed along the main road (corso – today’s Kanevaro Street) that crosses Kastelli from the east.

The mansions of the oldest Venetian families were concentrated in Kastelli, built with the influence of modern trends and especially that of Venetian Mannerism, as it was formed from the 16th century. There was also the magnificent Venetian cathedral, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, which was destroyed during the bombings of 1941.

The main families of the Turkish Cretans lived in this quarter, who added their own characteristics to the area. In Kastelli, there were gates to the east and west and a third narrow gate to the south, with steps, which remained with the name “The Steps”.

The Mosque Kioutsouk Hassan (Giali Tzamisi)

A brilliant example of Islamic Renaissance art, distinguished for its originality, is the only one of the city’s surviving mosques that dates back to the second half of the 17th century. It was built in honour of the first garrison of Chania, Kioutsouk Hassan, and after research by the 13th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities it was found that in its place there was a small one-room temple.

The mosque is a cubic building covered by a large hemispherical dome without a drum, supported by four ornate stone arches. On the west and north sides it is surrounded by a gallery covered by six small domes without a drum. Initially the gallery was open, as is customary in mosques. Around 1880 the gallery was converted into a closed one with arched openings and a strong neoclassical style.

The Kioutsuk (small) Hassan mosque or Giali Tzamisi (the mosque of the yalos), as it is commonly called, was the work of an Armenian architect, who had built another similar mosque in the village of Spaniako in Selinos. The mosque, in the courtyard of which there were palm trees and tombs of Pasha and Genitsar, ceased to operate in 1923. Today it is restored, but without the small but picturesque minaret that was demolished in 1920 (according to others in 1939).

Due to the war, after many adventures and with the initiative and care of the late Professor Nik. B. Tomadakis, the Archaeological Museum of Chania was moved there, while later the mosque was used as a warehouse, a museum of folk art, the Information Office of the National Tourism Organization and recently as a venue for events and exhibitions.