One of Greece’s prettiest cities, Hania exudes a genteel atmosphere that has not been dulled by either time or tourism. The modern city has risen around the old Venetian harbor and town like the protective walls erected in the 16th century by Michele Sanmicheli, who also designed the walls of Padua and the Cretan city of Iraklio.
Modern restaurants, cafes, tavernas and shops have taken over and animated disused arsenals, bastions, and Venetian mansions. In the old district of Topanas, at the western end of the Venetian harbor, you are just as likely to see a local housewife carrying a tin baking pan with the family dinner to the local bakery to be cooked as you are to find a boutique selling fine silver filigree and expensive gold jewelry.
The modern city of Hania is built on what is believed to have been the site of Kydonia, a city founded by King Minos’s grandson, Kydon. Odos Halidon, the heart of Hania’s commercial district, cuts through the city’s oldest quarter and links it to the modern city. Hania’s vibrant commercial center lays within a rough triangle formed by Plateia 1866, the Municipal Gardens, and the covered, cross-shaped produce market inaugurated in 1913 by Eleftherios Venizelos. The market is one of the modern city’s prime sights, with stalls selling dried mountain herbs, olive oil, raki, and dried fruit.
Sindrivani, a district with a slightly artsy bent, is named after the large Venetian fountain in its midst. Set at the edge of the old harbor, it’s a delightful blend of turn-of-the-century architecture and colorful modern cafes favored by the town’s student population. Older locals also converge here for the evening volta along the waterfront promenade that extends northeast along Akti Tombazi past the carefully restored Mosque of the Janissaries towards the inner harbor.
Various archaeological sites, villages, churches, caves, gorges and wonderful beaches are embellishing the attractive and full of charms prefecture of Chania.