Sometimes you cannot decide about whether to spend your vacation doing nothing at the beach, just enjoying the sun, or enrich yourself with culture and history. There are a few places, however, that offers both. For example, we wrote about the dual nature of Barcelona in an earlier post. In this post we will focus on the city of Chania on the island of Crete in Greece.
Short history of Chania
Chania is the second largest city on Crete after Heraklion. It is situated in the north west part of Crete and has a population of 54 000 people at the time of writing. Originally, the city is a Minoan (3650 to 1400 BCE) settlement. Time have passed and Chania, as well as Crete have been affected by a number of eras in different ways. The settlement was under conflict between Muslim Arabs and Christian Byzantine’s for a long time. After the fourth crusade (1204), the Byzantine Empire fell and Crete became a part of the Venetian empire. During this time, Chania became a commercial and agricultural center. Many important buildings of the city was built during this time and intellectual activity flourished. In 1645 the Ottoman Empire invaded Crete. Churches were turned into mosques and once again, conflict between Christians and Muslims arose. These conflicts continued until 1922 when there were no Muslims left after a population exchange between Greece and Turkey. During World War II, Crete were invaded by Nazi Germany. Parts of the city was bombed in battle during this period and the local population suffered under the invaders cruelty. During the 1970’s Chania grew to become a popular tourist area, which have boosted the economy and affected the everyday life and culture of the city.
Thanks to the influence from many different cultures and eras, there are a lot of historical buildings and places to visit in Chania today. If you cannot get enough of history, the ruins of Knossos near Heraklion is just a car, or bus ride away. For those if you interested in sports, you can find a football museum(!) in the center of Chania. It is dedicated to Greece’s success in the European Champions of 2004 when they won the gold.
Beaches of Chania
If you prefer beaches before architecture, then you won’t be disappointed. Chania is surrounded by different kind of beaches, varying from sand to rocky pebble. If you feel like maxing your beach experience, we recommend renting a car over a day and visit the Elafonisi lagoon at the south-west part of Crete. It is a 90 minutes’ drive from Chania, through some mountain roads. Elafonisi consists of a shallow reef, pink coral sand and crystalline waters. In short, it is a small paradise on earth.