Local Guide

Local Guide

NMIOTC is located at the northern part of Souda bay 20km from the historical city of Chania. Chania is the second largest city of Crete and the capital of the Chania regional unit. It lies along the north coast of the island, about 70 km (43 mi) west of Rethymno and 145 km (90 mi) west of Heraklion.

The city of Chania can be divided into two parts: the old town and the modern city which is the larger one. The old town is situated next to the old harbor and is the matrix around which the whole urban area was developed. It used to be surrounded by the old Venetian fortifications that started to be built in 1538.Of them, only the eastern and western parts have survived. From the south, the old town is continuous with the new, and from the north the physical border is the sea. The centre of the modern city is the area extending next to the old town and especially towards the south.

The Archaeological Museum

The museum is housed in the Venetian Church of San Francesco (in Chania) and exhibits important finds dating from the Neolithic and Minoan periods to the late Roman one. Those finds have been excavated from the region of Chania and of the western Crete. The most important parts of the exhibition are a collection of vases and weapons from the Minoan necropolis, a collection of Early Geometric and Geometric pottery and Hellenistic statues, a collection of wonderful mosaics from Chania, Classical and Hellenistic figurines, glass vessels from Greco-Romans times, a collection of coins and various other items. The museum is located on 21, Haledon Street.

The Maritime Museum of Crete in Chania

The Maritime Museum of Crete is housed at the Venetian Firka fortress, placed at the entrance of Chania’s harbor. This location has a historical importance, because on December, 1st, 1913, the Greek flag was raised there and signaled the unification of Crete with the Greek state. The initial idea behind the museum was to build a place that would depict the Greek naval tradition and especially the naval history of Crete.
Indeed such a museum was founded in May 1973 by Vice Admiral A. Yannopoulos, who was serving as an Admiral Commander in Chania. The foundation and function of this museum was supported by many military officers and distinguished citizens of Crete. The exhibits are classified in unites today. The first exhibition goes back from the Prehistoric times till the 6th century B.C. and includes ship models and pictures representing naval battles from the Persian Wars and the Peloponnesian War. The following collection goes from the Byzantine to the post-Byzantine period. This period was particularly important for the Greek Navy because it marked the end of rowing and the enrichment of the Greek navy with other ships that worked in a more technologically advanced mode. Apart from ship models, this collection also includes pictures that show the Byzantine naval power repelling the Barbarian threat.
The collection of the Turkish occupation and the Greek War of Independence follows, with special reference to the fight of the Cretan people to unite with the rest of Greece. In the next decades, during the Balkan Wars and the two World Wars, the Greek Navy was equipped with modern, technologically-advanced ships, whose pictures and models are presented in the Maritime Museum of Crete. There is also reference to the recent state of the Greek Navy. Furthermore, you can visit a shell exhibition that depicts the amazing beauty and diversity of the sea life as well as the fully-equipped library of the Museum. After much work done for its development, the Maritime Museum of Crete today competes the European museums in quality of exhibits. It is open every day from morning till early in the afternoon.

The Historical Archives of Crete

This museum is located on Sfakianaki Street 20, in the town of Chania, and is housed in a wonderful neoclassical building. It exhibits a rich collection of folklore and material related to the history of the island such as historic documents, maps, coins, religious vessels, pictures, etc

The Typography Museum of Chania Crete

The Typography museum in Chania Crete is located in the Park of Local Industries, close to Souda village. Created due to the efforts of the journalist Giannis Garedakis and the local newspaper “Haniotika Nea”, the museum official opened to the public in 2005. A unique concept, the Typography Museum contains an impressive collection of devices which consisted an integral part of the development of typography, right from the latter half of the 19th century till today. Apart from the stunning exhibits, visitors also have the opportunity to see some rare books that date back to the 16th century and also several original publications of Cretan newspapers from 1890 till present. Apart from all these, you can also admire a variety of other items, such as seals, banknotes and stamps. The museum also houses a library where you can find Cretan books and magazines, published over the last five decades. Known as the Cretologic Library, you will also find some maps and old calendars there. During some guided tours, you will even see some of these impressive machines in action. The Typography Museum is only accessible by appointment. No public transport goes there, so you will need a private car to access the museum.

Byzantine Collection

This collection is housed in a building located on Theotokopoulou Street (number 82), in the town of Chania. Various mosaics, wall-paintings, sculptures, funerary inscriptions, ceramics and objects of arts compose the collection. The museum also hosts a large collection of Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons.

Samaria Gorge National Park

The Samariá Gorge is a National Park of Greece on the island of Crete – a major tourist attraction – and a World’s Biosphere Reserve.The gorge is in southwest Crete in the regional unit of Chania. It was created by a small river running between the White Mountains (Lefká Óri) and Mt. Volakias. While some say that the gorge is 18 km long, this distance refers to the distance between the settlement of Omalos on the northern side of the plateau and the village of Agia Roumeli. In fact, the gorge is 16 km long, starting at an altitude of 1,250 m at the northern entrance, and ending at the shores of the Libyan Sea in Agia Roumeli.

The actual walk through Samaria National Park is 13 km long, but one has to walk another three kilometers to Agia Roumeli, making the hike 16 km long. The most famous part of the gorge is the stretch known as the Gates (or, albeit incorrectly, as “Iron Gates”), where the sides of the gorge close in to a width of only four meters and soar up to a height of almost 300 meters (1,000 feet). The gorge became a national park in 1962, particularly as a refuge for the rare kri-kri (Cretan goat), which is largely restricted to this park (and on an island just off the shore of Agia Marina). There are several other endemic species in the gorge and surrounding area, as well as many other species of flowers and birds.

The village of Samariá lies just inside the gorge. It was finally abandoned by the last remaining inhabitants in 1962 to make way for the park. The village and the gorge take their names from the village’s ancient church, Óssia María.

It is a ‘must’ for visitors to Crete to complete the walk down the gorge from the Omalos plateau to Agia Roumeli on the Libyan Sea, at which point can sail to the nearby village of Hora Sfakion and catch a coach back to Chania. The walk takes five to seven hours and can be strenuous, especially at the peak of summer.

Local tourist operators provide organized tours to the Gorge. These include bus transportation from one’s hotel to the entrance (near Omalos village), and a bus connection that will be waiting for hikers after they disembark the ferry in Sfakia (Chora Sfakion). If you are on your own, you can make a one-day round trip from Chania (see below) or from Sougia or Paleochora. Note that the morning buses from Sougia and Paleochora do not operate on Sunday. The ferries leave Agia Roumeli to Chora Sfakion (eastbound) and to Sougia/Paleochora (westbound) at 17:00.

There also exists a “lazy way” – from Agia Roumeli to the Gates, and back

The Venizelos Tombs at Profitis Ilias on Akrotiri

One of the most popular spots offering a panoramic view of Chania are the Venizelos  family tombs, a few kilometers east of the city, on the road to Akrotiri and the airport.
Here, at the small church of Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elijah), are the tombs of the famous Greek statesman Eleftherios Venizelos and his son Sophocles. The tombs are set in a pretty park with an uninterrupted view of Chania. Eleftherios Venizelos, one of the most important figures in Modern Greek history, was born in Turkish-occupied Crete in 1864 and died in self-imposed exile in Paris in 1936. He chose his burial site himself, a few kilometers east of his house in Chalepa. His body was brought from Paris and entombed here, while in 1965 a tomb was built for his son Sophocles, who served as Prime Minister of Greece from 1943 to 1952.

In the same spot is the statue of Spyros Kayales or Kayaledakis. On 9 February 1897, during the great bombardment of the Cretan revolutionaries by the fleet of the Great Powers, he made his body a flagpole to hold aloft the Greek flag, which had been shot down by the shells.

TIP: If you visit the Venizelos Tombs to see Chania from above, you can enjoy a drink or a coffee at the nearby Koukouvayia café, which also offers a wonderful view.

Chania Old Town

The “Old Town” consists of the old Venetian harbor and the small Venetian blocks located behind the harbor; it is characterized by narrow and picturesque alleys – similar to an enchanting labyrinth – full of life, and the plentiful remaining Venetian and Turkish buildings.

A unique city bearing a rich and long history and culture. The old city of Chania build over the ruins of ancient city of KYDONIA has managed to preserve its cultural heritage and traditional architecture. Nowdays the city has 100.000 residents. Its rare beauty justifies its characterization as the “Venice of the East”

There are also plenty of cafes and  local restaurants where you can enjoy traditional dishes.It is worth wandering through the narrow streets as is is an experience that you will remember for  long .

SHOPPING

Stores are open in the morning from 8:30 until 14:30 and in the evening 17:30 until 21:00 (Monday   Wednesday and Saturday stores are closed in the afternoon) .On Sunday all stores are closed.

Souvenirs stores in the old town are open all day

COFFEE –FOOD

Chania is considered the gastronomical capital of Crete. You can also enjoy traditional Cretan cuisine in the picturesque old town, which will offer you a wide range of restaurants and bars.

Koum Kapi on the other side of old Venetian Harbor is a highly suggested place to visit for coffee and food.

If you visit the Venizelos Tombs to see Chania from above, you can enjoy a drink or a coffee at the nearby cafés, which also offers a wonderful view.

In the following links you can find useful information about the city of Chania.

http://www.chania.gr/en

http://www.2821.gr/xania/

http://www.chania.com/

Rethimno Old Town


Rethymno is a city of approximately 40,000 people in Greece, the capital of Rethymno regional unit on the island of Crete. It was built in antiquity (ancient Rhithymna and Arsinoe), but was never a competitive Minoan centre. It was, however, strong enough to mint its own coins and maintain urban growth. One of these coins is today depicted as the crest of the town with two dolphins in a circle.

This region as a whole is rich with ancient history, most notably through the Minoan civilization centred at Kydonia east of Rethymno.[2] Rethymno itself began a period of growth when the Venetian conquerors of the island decided to put an intermediate commercial station between Heraklion and Chania, acquiring its own bishop and nobility in the process. Today’s old town (palia poli) is almost entirely built by the Venetians. It is one of the best preserved old towns in Crete.

built by the Venetians. It is one of the best preserved old towns in Crete.

The town still maintains its old aristocratic appearance, with its buildings dating from the 16th century, arched doorways, stone staircases, Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains, the small Venetian harbor and narrow streets. The Venetian Loggia houses the information office of the Ministry of Culture. A Wine Festival is held there annually at the beginning of July. Another festival, in memory of the destruction of the Arkadi Monastery, is held on 7–8 November.

The city’s Venetian-era citadel, the Fortezza, is one of the best-preserved castles in Crete. Other monuments include the Neratze mosque (the Municipal Odeon arts centre), the Great Gate (Μεγάλη Πόρτα, Porta Guora), the Piazza Rimondi (Rimondi square) and the Venetian Loggia.


The town was also captured by the Ottoman Turks in 1646 and was ruled by them for almost three centuries. The town (Resmo in Turkish) was the centre of a sanjak during Ottoman rule.

During the Battle of Crete (20–30 May 1941), the Battle of Rethymno was fought between German paratroopers and Australian and Greek forces. Although initially unsuccessful, the Germans won the battle after receiving reinforcements from Maleme in the Northwestern part of the island.

Knossos

Knossos is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and considered as Europe’s oldest city.


The name Knossos survives from ancient Greek references to the major city of Crete. The identification of Knossos with the Bronze Age site is supported by tradition and by the Roman coins that were scattered over the fields surrounding the pre-excavation site, then a large mound named Kephala Hill, elevation 85 m (279 ft) from current sea level. Many of them were inscribed with Knosion or Knos on the obverse and an image of a Minotaur or Labyrinth on the reverse, both symbols deriving from the myth of King Minos, supposed to have reigned from Knossos. The coins came from the Roman settlement of Colonia Julia Nobilis Cnossus, a Roman colony placed just to the north of, and politically including, Kephala. The Romans believed they had colonized Knossos.[6] After excavation, the discovery of the Linear B tablets, and the decipherment of Linear B by Michael Ventris, the identification was confirmed by the reference to an administrative center, ko-no-so, Mycenaean Greek Knosos, undoubtedly the palace complex. The palace was built over a Neolithic town. During the Bronze Age, the town surrounded the hill on which the palace was built.

The palace was excavated and partially restored under the direction of Arthur Evans in the earliest years of the 20th century. Its size far exceeded his original expectations, as did the discovery of two ancient scripts, which he termed Linear A and Linear B, to distinguish their writing from the pictographs also present. From the layering of the palace Evans developed de novo an archaeological concept of the civilization that used it, which he called Minoan, following the pre-existing custom of labelling all objects from the location Minoan.

The palace of Knossos was undoubtedly the ceremonial and political centre of the Minoan civilization and culture. It appears as a maze of workrooms, living spaces, and storerooms close to a central square. An approximate graphic view of some aspects of Cretan life in the Bronze Age is provided by restorations of the palace’s indoor and outdoor murals, as it is also by the decorative motifs of the pottery and the insignia on the seals and sealings.

The palace was abandoned at some unknown time at the end of the Late Bronze Age, ca. 1380–1100 BC. The occasion is not known for certain, but one of the many disasters that befell the palace is generally put forward. The abandoning population were probably Mycenaean Greeks, who had earlier occupied the city-state, and were using Linear B as its administrative script, as opposed to Linear A, the previous administrative script. The hill was never again a settlement or civic site, although squatters may have used it for a time.

Except for periods of abandonment, other cities were founded in the immediate vicinity, such as the Roman colony, and a Hellenistic Greek precedent. The population shifted to the new town of Chandax (modern Heraklion) during the 9th century AD. By the 13th century, it was called Makruteikhos ‘Long Wall’; the bishops of Gortyn continued to call themselves Bishops of Knossos until the 19th century. Today, the name is used only for the archaeological site now situated in the expanding suburbs of Heraklion.

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