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The capital city of Western Crete is Chania, the most beautiful city of the island and, as many say perhaps of whole Greece! It is the capital of the prefecture Chania, a prefecture known for its stunning nature with high mountains, deep gorges, beautiful beaches and many small picturesque villages. The city of Chania is the second largest city of Crete (after Heraklion) with over 60.000 inhabitants. In the period of 1849 – 1971 Chania was the Capital of Crete. In the past many foreign powers were interested in Crete for its important position in the Mediterranean and Chania with its position and harbour played an important role. Chania has been inhabited over the last 6000 years by Neolithic people, the Minoans, Mycenaeans, Dorians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Venetians, Ottoman Turks and the Germans during World War II.
Most impact had the Venetians and after it the Ottoman Turks. Their influence on the island and the city of Chania is still everywhere visible. They ruled over the island for many centuries, leaving behind not only habits in living but also buildings. What you see in the old town of Chania is mostly of Venetian and Turkish origin, a bit Byzantine (Byzantine walls) and Minoan (some excavations sites). Most buildings were constructed between the 13th and 19th centuries.
Although Chania is not a big city, there is so much to discover! The most known is the old part of the town with its Venetian harbour and beautiful Venetian and Turkish mansions. This attracts every year thousands of visitors. But even in de old town there are many places that are not discovered yet by many tourists like for example "Splanzia”, the old Muslim neighbourhood with many small alleys like a labyrinth.
Outside the old town are also very interesting parts of the city like Nea Chora (west of the old town) with its nice sandy beach and picturesque fishing harbour and many fish taverns. To the east you find the Halepa district with the old tanneries (Tampakaria) and its beautiful neoclassical houses, the house of Veneizelos and the beautiful park and church of Maria Magdalena. To the south of the old centre is the public park and a bit further the square of Eleftherias with its impressive building of the prefecture Chania.
There are much more beautiful and interesting parts to discover in Chania city. The amazing views from the Venezelos Tombs are not to be missed! A bit more to the west of Chania you find many sandy beaches like the one of Apostoli a beautiful protected beach where many locals, even in winter, go for a swim.