Crete: Chania

For starters, it’s pronounced “Hanya”. It is the second largest city in Crete and its history almost reads as the history of the world: this was a major city during the Cretan Minoan civilization and then a large Hellenic Greek city state during the classic Greek times. Then Arab invasion took over and then the Byzantine crusades pushed them back. This continued for a few centuries. Venetians arrived in the 13th century as did the Genoans and the Italians fought each other over Crete. Eventually Venetians won and subdued the Cretan population and went on building the cities. The came the Ottomans…. Chania carries a lot of all this history – there are mosques, Venetian buildings everywhere, some Byzantine ruins – and all of this in a small and compact historic core. Chania is truly beautiful with a large circular bay surrounded by old buildings, a lighthouse, a fortress, and loads of outdoor restaurants. It beat Heraklion hands down as the place to stay and be.