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self guided tour in Chania old town – Chania info

Published on June 27, 2022 by myhousetorent

Self guide to walk tour in  Chania old town

* See also our guides:

self driving tours around Chania

Chania- Places to avoid – Overcrowded tour of self guide, center of old town &  old Port

Chania had always  a particular character among Mediterranean ports and  cities.

Consecutive invasions and occupations  through centuries gave a  multilingual, multiracial, and a multireligious character to the city.
Since Antiquity , Crete was a master piece for all powers: Roman empire, Arab expansion, Byzantine empire, station for the Crusaders, Genovese and finally Venetian occupation, then Ottoman empire for 260 years, an interval of 10 years with Egyptian rule,  and finally at  early 20th century to return to its Ethnic origin  of Greece.
Kastelli,  is the hill that overlooks the port, and  from the Minoan period up to the early years of Venetian rule, surrounded by the remains of the Byzantine city walls and was  always an administrative center.
On the West side of old town  lies the Topanas district, which was the Christian quarter during the Ottoman period. Its name comes from the Venetian ammunition warehouse (Turkish tophane), which was located there.
Jewish  quarter (Evraiki or Ovraiki) was located at the north-west of the Old Town, behind the harbour and within the borders of Topanas. Chania  Synagogue is  a museum  but Jews of Chania ( established since their expulsion from Spain at 1600), “dissapeared” during 2nd World War  during German occupation of Crete.
On the East side of the Old city , was the Muslim quarter.( Cretans of Muslim religion were  obliged to move to Turkey  after governments agreement at 1925 –  suite to the Greek-Tukish war of 1922).
1st Walk in the old town of Chania

Start from Main Market building , land mark of the city  and make a pass inside across to the street on opposite side. Main market of Chania is a great building in shape of a cross and each section is dedicated for particular products .One for fish, the other meat , in the entrance for bread and dairies.
Unfortunately, the location selected to build  at 1913 was on a section of Venitian walls of the city so restauration of this part will be impossible in the future.


Once cross inside the Market  you exit to North side  and down the stairs , at  Tsouderon street. Go left  towards West and after few meters you are in a narrow picturesque street  called Leather street with  shops on both sides, mostly  filled mostly with leather articles.

This street ends at  the main street CHALIDON  leading  on your  right to the OLD HARBOUR square.
Walking  towards the sea front, you pass first by the ORTHODOX  cathedral church of the city  dedicated to St. Virgin Mary.

Just across, there  also  the entrance  of the CATHOLIC church of the city.


Few meters further down towards the port, and you have on your left a  great building :

The  building  from 1600 PC,   Venetian period   the Franciscan Monastery  and main Church, to be transformed later in   into a mosque, the “Giousouf Pasha Tzamisi”. Then, a minaret and an octagonal fountain were added in the beautiful courtyard on the side. After the island independance  , was transformed again  into the 1st  cinema in the city , and finally into archaeological museum  .Further down , you reach  square Venizelou , with a marble fountain , and finally you  arrive at the sea front .

The Mosque of Hassan Pasha, (the first Ottoman governor), was constructed by the Ottoman Turks  after  they occupied Chania in the 1645. The mosque is a landmark of the city  for its bulbous dome.
In the past, the yard was full of palm trees and graves of pashas, ​​and also had a small minaret, which was demolished in 1923.

9th-century lighthouse

The  21 m . Egyptian Lighthouse, which stands proud of the Old Port of Chania, is one of the oldest in the world, its history is lost in the mists of time. though … Egyptian in the name, it is actually a creation of the Venetians. With time it suffered major damage and had to spend more than 200 years, until the decade 1830-40, to be reconstructed by the Egyptians during their short occupation of the island. Became one of the most distinctive architectural style  because the base has an octagonal shape, the middle section has 16 corners, while the top is circular and It resembles a minaret!

Turn towards the interior port , the first imposing building is the Venetian  Grand Arsenal.
The building was originally the end unit of the terrace of 17 vaulted buildings to host all ships (including their masts and sails) for repairs and renovations after so long trips.It was built last, with thicker walls. During Turkish occupation the vault was replaced with a second floor. Later it became a Christian school, then a hospital. It also served as Chania city hall until 1941 when it was partly destroyed by German  air force  bombardment.

Behind the  Grand Arsenal, is the hill  of  Kasteli (castle) and  this has been inhabited since Neolithic times.  It was always an  ideal place for a settlement due to its secure position and so has been surrounded by fortifications.

To go up to the castle :

On the right side of Arsenal just by the side street behind,  the path  goes upwards to reach the castle above . Take these 47 steps  and you find your self in the center of the dominant hill on the city.Once  up ,  first turn  right  and at the end of street , pass the semi closed gate and you are in the most exiting spot in the old city. .

From there you have an incredible view all over the old city – the  entire port underneath and the extended view to North and  West.
The main building below  was  the Headquarters of  Ottoman pashas of Crete ( Cretans  called it serai or konaki)

Here Is the  the most beautiful natural terrace overlooking the harbor.

Returning on the street leading to the heart of the ancient city (st Markos street) towards the mountains . There was also the majestic Cathedral of the Venetians, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, .and  few meters further down are the ruins of the monastery of the Dominican monks “Santa Maria dei miracoli”  which was destroyed during  German bombing of 1941.

We continue further down we reach   street KANEVARO ( Italian admiral during  mediation of the “great powers) in the Cretan Revolution of 1897.This street  was the most important  in Byzantine and  Venetian times . The ruins left from the 2nd world war bombing, allowed excavations which  revealed  part the  city  KYDONIA Proto-Minoan settlement.


Kydonia was one of the three cities founded by King Minos in Crete. Large habitations with well-built rooms, elegant floors with circular cavities- fireplaces, coated walls with deep red mortar, door frames and ceramics of excellent quality are some of the findings that indicate the existence of a significant proto-Minoan centre. The extended excavations in the archaeological site of Kasteli, which constitutes one of the most important monuments of the prehistoric period of Crete.

We continue  on KANEVARO street on the opposite direction  descending the hill to East, then walk  once more to the port and Venetian Arsenals ( Neoria of Chania).

During the Venetian occupation (1204 – 1669), the need for the closer presence of Venetians in Crete made them construct a large number of “Neoria” (arsenal) in Chania, where the ships would be repaired during the winter.  In 1593, sixteen “Neoria” had already been constructed.In 1599, the south “Neoria” complex was completed with the construction of the 17th “Neorio”.

Our walk ends at the very last  Arsenal  called after MORO (venetian  governor ) for a coffee.

In 1607, during the expansion of the northeast rampart, begins the construction of 5 more “Neoria” at the heart of the port to the east. Two of them were completed, however, only the walls to the arch of the third one were constructed so was recently finished and a wood roof was added.The first on right, is part of Nautical museum of Chania and houses  an experimental reconstruction of a Minoan trading boat.

In the middle , there is still working  shipyard for fishermen boats.
The last on left actually serves as the best lounge cafe of the city and is the base of  sailing club of Chania.



2nd  tour of self guide in the old town of Chania

Leaving the  Neorio (arsenal) MORO, pass behind  street by the big parking place to exit in the KOUM KAPI  gate between the old and new city . There is an opening on the Venetian  fortification wall  called   Sabbionara  fort.

On left, you exit the Old city to modern one,  called Koum kapi  (The gate of the sand -in Turkish)

Here are the remains of Venetian land mark with the lion  sculpted on the Wall.

And the outside  part of Venetian wall where is hosted an open theater also.



Go back in the old town and turn left to MINOOS STREET.

Every SATURDAY , in this street take place  a popular open market with  vegetables , cheeses, honey and fruits  directly from the producers arriving from  near by villages.








From Minoos street , walk inside this narrow street. You pass through a small square and you continue by the side street of GERASSIMOU   and go LEFT  UP witch will lead you to SPLANTZIA square.
Here was the religious center  during Turkish  occupation.

The church of Agios Nikolaos, located in Splantzia Square, was built before 1320, during the Venetian period, as a monastery of Dominican Order. After the dominance of Turks in Chania in 1645, the church was transformed into a mosque and was given the name Hiougkar Tzamisi (the Emperor’s mosque), in honour of sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Imbraim.


The sword of the Turk dervish, who was the first one that entered in the city, was considered to be blessed and wonder-working, and was reserved there. Its importance is highlighted by the existence of two- instead of one- balconies on the minaret on the southwest corner of the temple. The morphological elements of the minaret are of great interest, as they follow the Venetian tradition.In the same square, beneath the giant plane tree there is a commemoration  stone  because here  was a place where Christian were hanged  during the Turkish occupation.There  is also  behind an enclosed  place and down several stairs  a subterranean  aqueduct bringing water from water sources of a village  5 kms  away from the city, so τhe population  had always  fresh water.
On the side  of the  square is the church of St. Rocco.IIn 1630, probably after the outbreak of the plague, while Saint Rokkos was the protector of Chania from this contagious disease. During the Ottoman rule used as a military guardhouse, while during the Cretan State and until 1925 as a police station.

Continue on the main street towards upper town, on your right  towards South (the mountains). On the first right corner  go inside  the small street witch leads  to a small square .


from there you pass under the arch with a house on top,


pass under and go right,   to the end of this street. Then turn right again .







At the end , you face the Byzantine fortifications of  Chania castle.

The wall who surrounded the hill of Kasteli, where was the first inhabiting of the city. It was built in 12th century and its outline is irregular with longitudinal axle from the East to the West, where its two central gates were located.

The Wall consists of rectilinear parts, interrupted polygonal towers, and is founded over the ruins of an older fortification of the Hellenistic period



Walking by the Wall to LEFT direction  , you reach again the main square of the harbour at your right.

You continue on the same  narrow street  named ZAMPELIOU, into the heart of  Topchanas and Hebrew  past neighborhoods.

These are two of the most historic  in the northwestern part of the old town of Chania. After the Ottoman conquest it was pole of installation of Christians and Jews (expelled from Spain 1490  by Ferdinand and Isabella and invited in by the Sultan  Vayagit to establish in  Istanbul,, Thessaloniki, and Chania.

Today the picturesque streets, the Venetian mansions  as  Renieri, Delfino etc ,and the monuments give the feeling of a living monument and a magnet for the tourists.









Proceed along this street Zambeliou. You can then turn left for a while to Kondylaki street.Follow the signs and turn right at a small street that leads to the Etz Hayyim Synagogue; built in the 17th century (on site of still earlier synagogues) destroyed in World War II, and restored recently.

Check to learn about the history and activities of the synagogue. Go back to Zambeliou, you’ll ascend a bit until you come to Theotokopoulou (honor to Cretan origin’s painter  El Greco” on your right.




turn right here and take in the architecture and shops of this Venetian-style street, which also has been the center of Greek community during Ottoman period, as you make your way down to the sea.
At the end of the street, on the right, the recently restored Church of San Salvatore was converted into a little museum of Byzantine and post-Byzantine art. There was  the homonymous monastery of Franciscans . During the Ottoman rule the monastery was converted into a mosque in the place Aga Khan.


After the Byzantine museum, you’ll be just outside the harbor; turn right and pass below the walls of the Firkas, the name given to the fort that was a focal point in Crete’s struggle for independence at the turn of the 20th century. You reach the main port where at your right the red building is “The Naval Museum” where are some interesting displays and artifacts.


Category: Tips for Crete