The city of Chania is one of the most beautiful cities of Greece and the second largest in the island of Crete. The city is built on the ruins of the ancient town of Kydonia and has experienced many changes of fortune down to the present day.
After a short occupation by the Arabs (823-961), the city starts to gain back its old glory. During the Byzantine periods (961-1252), we find the first attempt of the construction of fortifications, surrounding the old city and the harbor. These Byzantine Walls, which were built of materials from the ancient city, are the only archeological evidence for the existence of the city during the period between the Arab and Venetian conquests.
The importance to Venice of the coastal location of Hania helped the city to evolve and become the outlet for the flourishing agricultural hinterland. During the Venetian occupation (1252-1645), the harbor became an important center of trade and afforded protection for the Venetian fleet. The Byzantine fortifications were repaired but the city gradually spread outside the walls. A total of seventeen large docks were constructed to serve the ships of the Venetian fleet, mainly during the winter months.
The capture of the city by the Turks (1645-1898), created a new situation. The large churches and Venetian monasteries were converted into mosques, as well as new ones were built, such as Kucuk Hasan Mosque in the harbour. In 1898, Chania was turned into the capital of the semi-autonomous Cretan State under the Great Powers’ eye. Thanks to the efforts of the great politician Eleftherios Venizelos, Chania and the rest of Crete were formally united with the rest of Greece in 1913. Since that date, Crete has shared in the fortunes of the Greek state, and Chania has gradually reverted to a status of a provincial town.