Tour of the Monuments

The Lighthouse


Around 1595-1601 a lighthouse was built by the Venetians, founded on the natural rock, which functioned as an open flame torch (fryktoria) and is referred to as a “lantern” in a plan of the city of Chania of 1689 by V. Coronelli.

For the renewal of the water and the avoidance of embankments, an opening was created on the breakwater and the bastion of Agios Nikolaos was constructed in its centre. The latter covered the long distance to the entrance of the harbour, which it protected, in combination with the Firkas fortress. It was then that the provolos, the tower of the lighthouse that exists to this day, was constructed. It is framed in the Venetian trapezoidal base on natural rock. Its architectural elements are linked to the local tradition, as it was formed from the end of the Venetian occupation onwards. It was at this time that Lighthouse took the form we know. The tower of the building consists of three sections of different cross-section: the base section is octagonal, the middle section is hexagonal and the third is circular. The material of the base is of the same origin and quality as that used by the Venetians to construct the fortifications of the city of Chania.

According to the authoritative English “lighthouses” of 1847 and 1859, the Lighthouse was restored – on its Venetian base – and in 1839 it operated with the new technology of the time. There is no documented information about his first lamp, nor is there any evidence to show when he stopped operating as an open flame torch.

The new Lighthouse is, as mentioned, different from the original one. It is more reminiscent of a minaret both in its form and in the internal stone staircase, which leads to the balcony with the glass turret. That is why the monument is not classified as one of the standard towers of the lighthouses in relation to its cross-section. It is a “port lighthouse” and consists only of the lighthouse tower, without the keepers’ residence, like the other lighthouses under surveillance. This is because it is located in a residential area, so it was not necessary to supervise its operation from a guard house adjacent or close to the tower. Nevertheless, around the end of the 19th century, a tile-roofed guardhouse was constructed at the base of the Lighthouse, but it was demolished before 1967. Throughout the height of the interior there is a stonework ladder that acts as a helical element of rigidity.

In 1864 the lighthouse came under the jurisdiction of the French Company of Ottoman Lighthouses and operated with a lighting device “mirror of the 4th class”. At the end of the Turkish occupation, the staircase on the eastern side, i.e. at the entrance of the Lighthouse Tower, was constructed. The perimeter solid stone parapet and the octagonal outpost with the small dome are newer constructions. Pipelines have also been created through which sea water passes under the surface of the base of the lighthouse.

The Lighthouse, the jewel and “trademark” of the city, is 21 m high, with a height of 26 m above sea level. It is the oldest surviving lighthouse not only of the Greek and Mediterranean coasts, but also one of the oldest in the world.


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Venizelio Conservatory

The Venizelio Conservatory of Chania is located on Nikiforo Fokas Street and is housed in a privately owned neoclassical building founded in 1931 at the expense of Elena Venizelou. It has a theater hall, with a stage and a balcony, with a capacity of about 300 seats and belongs to the “Association for the dissemination of Fine Arts in Crete”. Today it hosts DI.PE.THE. of Crete and the mixed Choir of Chania.