I’ve gotten a few queries in the past few days so just to clarify, we haven’t abandoned our Bella Napoli. We’re just Chuiso per Ferie, spending our Summer in Chania, Crete and will be back in Naples in September. In the meantime, I hope you will enjoy seeing a bit of Chania on our Napoli Unplugged pages.

Last week, in between scorching days at the beach, cocktail hours, and more than a few 3 hour dinners, we found some time to do two tours of Chania. One of Old Town Chania, one of the Akrotiri Peninsula. One by foot, one by car. Both private tours. Both worth every penny.

First up, a walking tour of Old Town Chania. Our guide – the very lovely and highly knowledgeable Alexandra Ariotti – Alex.

An Australian-Italian by way of London, Alex is an archeologist and historian who has worked and traveled extensively in the Middle East.

As soon as I found her Chania Old Town Walks website, I knew we spoke the same language. As soon as I met her, I knew we shared the same type of passion – hers for Chania, mine for Napoli.

It’s not easy to cover 5000 years of history in a 3 hour walk. I know because clearly brevity is not my strong suit. It’s harder still to do it in 95 degree heat, the sun bearing down on you at each turn.

But not only did Alex manage to hit the high points and lesser known, she was happy to delve deeper whenever we asked. And in our short time together, we covered a lot of ground, both through space and time. Here are just a few highlights from Alex’s fabulous tour!

Entering through the original defensive wall of the city and what would have been the Katri Gate, we journeyed to the original settlement of Chania, ancient Kydonia on top of Kastelli hill.

Along the way we discovered ancient Minoan ruins that were unearthed after massive air raids during WWII nearly leveled this entire area. Much of the Venetian era architecture was lost here, but after clearing away the rubble, archeologists found Minoan remains suggestive of the highly sophisticated and organized society that inhabited this area thousands of years ago.

At the top of the hill we stopped to look out over Chania. Here, we could see how the city expanded east, west and south of the original walls during the Venetian period.

View of the Venetian Harbor from Kastelli Hill, Chania, Crete
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View of the Venetian Harbour from Kastelli Hill

An ancient winding stairway led us down to the port. It reminded me of Le Scale di Napoli, the ancient footpaths of Naples that once connected the city with its hill districts. Indeed this was something quite similar however as Alex explained, it was designed as a footpath or should I say hoof path for donkeys to transport goods from the port to the residences on Kastelli hill.

After a stroll around the Venetian harbor we found ourselves in Topanas, the area where the Venetians sought to recreate Chania in their own likeness, or that of Venice anyway. Home to our charming little hotel Nostos, it is an area of elegant Venetian townhouses and palazzi, some in tact, some lost to the war, and some forever changed by the Turkish occupation.

Topanas Neighborhood, Chania, Crete
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Venetian Structure with Turkish Modifications

A short distance from here we visited Evraiki, once the Jewish quarter of Chania and home to the Etz Hayyim Jewish Synagogue, the only remaining Synagogue on Crete. Our tour ended in the Splantzia neighborhood, an area of Chania that was populated by the Turks during the Ottoman/Turkish occupation of Chania.

There is so much more to be said about each of these areas but I will try to practice some brevity and leave it here for now.

About the Tour
Chania Old Town Walks

Info:  alex@chania-oldtown-walks.gr or +30 6937399300
Cost:  Up to 3 persons – €75,00,  Up to 6 persons – €120,00

More about our Summer in Chania