History of the Town of Hania
|3000 - 2800 BC
|Archaeological artifacts prove the existence of ancient Kydonia
|2800 - 1150 BC
|Minoan civilisation. Ancient Kydonia is one of the most powerful cities in Crete
|1st millennium AD
|Kydonia prevails until the 7th century AD
|823 - 961 AD
|Occupation by the Arabs
961 - 1252 AD
|1252 - 1645 AD
|Occupation by the Venetians
|1645 - 1897 AD
|Occupation by the Turks
|Foundation of the Cretan State. Chania is the capital of Crete
|Unification of Crete with Greece
Hania is built on the site of the ancient city of Kydonia
This site was inhabited from Neolithic times and through all phases of the Minoan Period. The ceramics found on the hill of Kasteli, east from the port, is the earliest testimony of human presence and activity. The geographical location of the prehistoric settlement was ideal, not only because it was next to the sea, but also because it was surrounded by the rich valley of Chania. Kydonia developed into a very important center of the Minoan civilization and it was famous for its pottery workshops.
Kydonia was the first city that confronted the Roman army. Despite its strong resistance, the city was finally conquered by the Romans. The Roman General Cointos Kaikilios Metellos the Cretan, as he was called after his victory, managed to conquer Kydonia in 69 B.C, and shortly after, the whole island of Crete.
During the Roman period Kydonia was an important city. The ancient theater of the city was preserved until 1583 when it was demolished by the Venetians to use the building material for the construction of the city walls.
Kydonia was destroyed in 828 AD by the Saracene pirates. During the Byzantine period Hania ceased to be an important city.
When the Venetians came they settled in Kastelli, the hill which commands the harbour, and they fortified it.
They built there their cathedral, Santa Maria, as well as a palace, theatre and houses for their nobility.
The city flourished as an economical and intellectual center. The fear of a Turkish invasion forced the Venetians to enclose the entire town with a wall and a moat.
A new modern city was then constructed within the city walls and significant private and public buildings were built, such as the Cathedral of Panagia (Virgin Mary), the house of the Rector and the houses of the Venetian Commanders. The public buildings were built lengthwise the central road (corso- today the street "Kanevaro") that crosses Kasteli to the east.
In 1645 the Turks occupied Hania after a two months siege. They converted old Catholic Churches into Mosques and constructed new Mosques in the city. They also founded public baths, from which only three are preserved today, as well as public water fountains, usually located next to the Mosques.
Other public buildings were also constructed, such as hospitals, barracks and other military buildings, the Venetian fortress was reinforced and the urban plan was limited within its limits.
The city of Chania becomes the headquarters of the Turkish Pasha.
The great 1821 national revolution shattered the relations between the Turkish and the Greek population in Crete and bloody massacres took place in the city of Chania.
After the end of the revolution, Crete was assigned to the Regent of Egypt, Mehmet Ali, until 1841. During the Egyptian occupation, the breakwaters and the famous Egyptian lighthouse were constructed in the port of Chania.
In 1841 the 2nd Turkish period begins with the reclamation of Crete by the Turks. In 1850, the city of Chania is declared the capital of the island, because of the frequent revolutions in the region of western Crete. New public and private buildings were constructed, following the modern neoclassic styles of architecture, and the city gradually acquired a European character and was extended outside the city walls. New temples were built, such as the Cathedral temple of "Trimartyri", as well as new Municipal Departments, schools, ect.
With the liberation of Crete from the Turks, in 1897, Hania became the capital of the autonomous Cretan State.
In 1913, along with the rest of Crete, it was united with the rest of the Greek State.
Hania was the birth place of one of the greatest statesman of the new Hellenic Republic, Eleftherios Venizelos
Venizelos' influence on the history of Greece was paramount, from his participation to the talks with the Ottomans that resulted to granting Crete independence in 1897, to the final union of Crete with Greece in 1913.
The cultural background of Chania is very rich, first of all due to the town's long history and its interaction with many diverse civilizations in the past. Furthermore the location of Crete (immediately connected to Athens; situated between Europe, Asia and Africa) as well as the cosmopolitan atmosphere that tourism creates, have generally kept the town up-to-date with modern advances in art and knowledge. Currently, there are several museums, art galleries, theatre and music groups, educational and research institutions within the city.
The Archaeological Museum located in the Old Town, houses findings from different parts of the county and from several historical and prehistorical periods of the local history (Neolithic to Roman). Within the Old Town, there is also a Naval History Museum as well as the Byzantine/Post-Byzantine Collection and a Folklore Museum. Also, the city boasts its Historical Archive (the second most important in Greece), a War Museum, the House of E. Venizelos and the Municipal Gallery.
Several theatre groups are active in Chania with the most important being the Municipal and Regional Theatre of Crete. The repertoire includes old and contemporary plays from Greek and foreign writers. The Venizelian Conservatory of Music (established 1931) is also one of the most important cultural societies in Crete. A recent attempt from the municipality to create a chamber music group named "Sinfonietta" has been successful and its performances throughout the year have enriched the cultural event calendar of the city.
During the summer period a variety of cultural events
take place on a daily basis. Theatrical plays, concerts and several exhibitions from Greek and foreign artists are organized either by the municipality or by individuals. A venue which hosts many of these events is a theater located in the Firkas
fortress. Also, several festivals, conferences or sport events take place in Hania especially between May and September. The Venizeleia athletics competition is one of the most noteworthy events of the year.
Hania is the base of Technical University of Crete
. The studies that the university offers are related to electronic engineering, environmental engineering, production engineering, mineral resources, scienes and architecture. Other educational institutions located at the greater area of the city are the Hania branch of the Technological Educational Institute of Crete and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Hania. Other research and intellectual insitutes and societies in Hania are: the National Research Foundation "Eleftherios K. Venizelos", the Mediterranean Architecture Centre (KAM), the Institute of Olive Tree and Subtropical Plants of Hania, the Philological Society “Chrisostomos”, the Institute of Cretan Law and the Historical, Laographical and Archaeological Society of Crete.