Friday, 19 April 2013


The harbour mouth

Today we are visiting the Venetian port city of Chania. It is described as one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in the world. Although written with a Ch in English (and Chi in Greek), it is pronounced Hania.

We took the bus from Stavros and got off by the Market building, which dates from 1913.  Nearby was a lone minaret, one of the vestiges of the Turkish period of occupation.

 The market is cross shaped, quite spacious and airy.

From here we walked through some shopping streets to reach the cathedral. It dates only from 1868 and has a pleasant square in front of it.

A little further on we reached the Schiavo Bastion.  It appears quite squat, but we climbed to the top and were delighted and surprised by the flower meadow which covered its roof and by the view over the city's rooftops.

We even saw a Swallowtail.  It was a bit battered and perhaps on its last legs, but still the first we have seen. It seemed darker than the one I saw in Italy two years ago.

Now we went round the back of the Tower to follow the course of the old Venetian walls towards the sea.

When you reach the sea you have to turn right, passing another flower meadow on a patch of waste land, the Byzantine museum in a small Ventian chapel and the Firka, the main Venetian barracks. You turn the corner to be confronted by the narrow harbour mouth, with the famous Venetian lighthouse on the opposite side. With careful placement, the Stavros mountains can be lined up behind it.

We walked around the harbour, noticing the Mosque of the Janissaries on the other side. Built in 1645, just after the Turks displaced the Venetians, it is the oldest Turkish building on Crete.

After lunch in one of the innumerable harbour-side restaurants, we continued round the harbour passing the Venetian Great Arsenal and the Neoria, former naval yards, started in 1461.

We carried on along the narrow causeway that leads to the lighthouse, passing the St Nicholas church on the way (photographed from the harbour side) ....

... and then enjoying the majestic sweep of the harbour wall. Its construction started in 1320.

The lighthouse terrace was luckily open for a few minutes to allow access for a film crew and views across the harbour. The clouds had lifted a little and the White Mountains were now visible in the background.

We retraced our steps to enter the narrow streets of the old town just near the mosque and later meet up with others of our party for an open air dinner in a restaurant beneath the city walls. 

Conditions: hot and sunny.

Distance:  about four miles from start to finish.

Rating: four and half stars. A beautiful city, especially around the harbour.

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