Ottoman empire


1645A.C – 1898 A.C

The Cretan War, so called the long conflict between the Ottoman Empire and the Venetians in Crete, was started in the summer of 1645 with the invasion of the Ottoman troops in the northwest coast of Chania, on the Gulf of Kolympari. The city of Chania surrendered on August 22, 1645 and a year later followed the abandonment of Rethymno, while the Ottoman conquest was completed with the fall of Candia in 1669.

With the conquest of the city a new situation began for Chania. The Ottomans were not interested in building a new city, but in matching the existing infrastructure to their own needs. They placed the commander post at the palace of the Venetian regional commander, on the hill of Kastelli and turned into mosques the Cathedral of Virgin Mary and all Catholic monasteries. They also built new mosques such as the Mosque Kioutsouk Hassan (Giali Tzamisi), and built fountains and baths. Finally, they built public buildings such as barracks, hospitals and other military installations and maintained the fortifications by repairing the breaches in the walls.

The Turks were settled in the eastern districts, Kastelli and Splantzia, where nowadays is located the main mosque of the city Hiougar TzamissiMosque (Mosque of the Ruler), the ex church of St. Nicholas of the Dominicans. Christians and Jews settled mainly in the western districts, in Topana and the so-called Jewish quarter.

The Turks in their attempt to associate with the local population, they restore the Orthodox bishop of Kydonia in the ancient office, thereby restoring the ecclesiastical order. Thus, the coexistence of the two peoples in the city of Chania created miscellaneous scenery; with Christians to recover some lost privileges from the Venetian period. But the Daskalogiannis Revolt in 1770 triggered a strong confrontation in the relations of the two peoples. The Revolution of 1821 gave rise to the Turks to commit new massacres of Christians in Chania and hanging the Bishop of Kissamos Melchizedek in Splantzia.

After the Revolution, Crete was granted to the Egyptian ruler Muhammad Ali, in the years which remodels the jetty and the lighthouse of the Venetian harbor. In 1841 the island was returned to Ottoman power and since Chania know boom and grow. There were built new public and private buildings that follow the movement of Neoclassicism and the city was expanded outside the boundaries of the fortifications. Moreover, there were erected schools, municipal offices and new churches such as the Cathedral of Trimartiris.

In 1851, Chania became the capital of Crete and in 1856 the Sultan issued the hat-i Humayun recognizing sufficient rights to Christians. But the reluctance of the authorities to implement the above condition and improve the living conditions of Christians will cause a series of small and large rebel movements for the next few years. In 1858, begins the movement of Mavrogenes, followed by the great revolution of 1866 to 1869. The Ottoman fort in Aptera was built in that period, and the revolution of 1877 to 1878 brought the famous Chalepa Convention.

The Orthodox community of Chania starts organizing in educational and cultural fields and Chania transformed into a modern city according to the European standards with educational society, theatrical groups and rich publishing activity.

At the same time, the “Cretan Question” takes international dimension involving the Great Powers and the Greek-Turkish dispute over the future of the island. In 1889, the Ottoman Porte again restricted the rights of Christians and causes the homonymous revolution with many victims. The 1896 many Christians are killed and the next year, Christian neighborhoods in Chania where torched. The Greek government declared war on the Ottoman Empire and Timoleon Vassos was sent to Chania designed to stimulate a new revolution and declare the union of the island with Greece.

The Great Powers as a reaction to the movements of the Greek army and because of the organization of the rebel forces camp to Profitis Elias in Akrotiri, they began to bombard the camp. Suddenly, a shell from the Russian warship “Bellick” strikes the Greek staff flag.

Then, the hero Spyros Kagiale said-as he later narrated “for Christ’s faith and the freedom of the motherland”, grabs the flag and used his own body as a staff flag. The move shocked the admirals of foreign forces who immediately ordered a cease-fire. The road to freedom of Crete had just opened.