Wait! Don’t start yet! Put some –appropriate- music on first!
I’m in love with the small things of life. With images, smells, tastes… everything that makes me smile and feel lucky that I experience it, even though it is the simplest, for others taken for granted or ordinary. With the blue color of the sea and the white sand, with the scent of vanilla, the taste of white grape, with pink sunsets… but I’m hopelessly in love with the old towns that exude mystical nostalgia and transfer me many years back, without a time machine. Castles, areas with many antiquities, old towns. Somehow I loved Monemvasia, Rome and of course Chania!
I walk the streets of the old town of Chania and feel like I am in a time capsule touched by Greeks, Venetians, Turks, Jews and Egyptians. According to archaeological research, the city of Chania is built on the ruins of ancient Cydonia, founded by Minos. During the 13th century the medieval town of Chania stood by the Venetian conquerors and is characterized by Venetian Mannerism with some Flemish elements.
In 1645 the Turks conquered Chania, the Catholic churches were turned into mosques and buildings got more oriental character. In 1913 Crete was united with Greece while during the Second World War Chania were bombed thereby destroyed the old town. After all (or rather because of all the impurities), the Old Town district exudes an elegant charm that is not easily possible to overtake!
Within the maze of alleyways of the old town beats a heart of 5000 years. I can hear the beat at every turn, every arch, every hanging garden of the houses.
I start my walk, almost always from the bustling Halidon street, where there is a fabulous courtyard that provokes me for the most carefree life!
The lyrics of Charles Aznavour echo in my ears and the courtyard of “Bohème” tucked in my heart. Furthermore, on Halidon there is the good ice cream, the “piragmeno” (tweaked)! Dimitris makes ice cream tailored to my needs! Pick one of the imaginative flavors (therebetween Smurfs, bubblegum big babol etc.) and he adds what I choose (wafer, maltesers or even Raki). No thanks, I do not drink alcohol, I prefer smarties!
I make a few steps back to find Zambeliou street and gaze at the houses with the characteristic Venetian facades, such as the mansion of the noble Renier, which today has become a boutique hotel with 9 suites. Beyond lies the Theotokopoulou street, which was spared by the bombing of the Second World War. There are Venetian buildings and shops with souvenirs that have obvious oriental traces of Ottoman rule, with latticed windows and wooden balconies. In this quiet neighborhood called Topanas, a Turkish name derived from the cannons of the Turks, I feel like I am in an old picturesque neighborhood. There rises the fortress Firkas that has been used as barracks, naval warehouse and as a jail until the civil war.
There, at the alleys of Topanas among the Venetian mansions from the 17th and 18th century, there is my favorite “Fagotto Jazz Bar” in Angel Street, a charming listed Venetian building of the 15th century. Elaborate doors, bright colors, plants, houses, stone balconies and arches, the old town of Chania is a unique dance that drives us to charming past!
But the real gem of the old city is the old port of Chania! There is the only surviving mosques in Hassan Pasha mosque or Yali Tzamisi with the typical morphology of mosques (a large central dome and four smaller) now functions as an exhibition space and events, the 7 surviving of the 17 shipyards, but also the much-photographed Egyptian lighthouse, the jewel of the Venetian harbor, with a height of 21 m. It is the oldest extant lighthouse of the Mediterranean Sea and one of the oldest in the world.
If you follow me on Instagram (@polinetta_) you might also noticed some of these photos that are always on my happy dreams…
Photos taken by me
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