The fact that we find Chania, Greece to be beautiful and charming is not really a surprise. Prior to our visit, we did our due diligence . . . reading blogs and articles, watching videos, and scrolling through online images of this gorgeous Cretan town. Based on what we read and viewed, we were quite excited to come here. Our only concern was that perhaps we had projected an unrealistic travel fantasy about Greece onto this unsuspecting town.
It turns out that Chania is in fact different than what we expected . . . and much to our delight! As soon as we walked into the old town - even with all our visual preparation - we were still awestruck by the beauty and charm that awaited us. It’s a little like the best outcome for online dating - after seeing photos and videos of one’s prospective date, you’re happy enough with how the person looks, and then when you finally meet, you are delighted and surprised to find that they appear even better in person. That’s the story of our first date with Chania.
Much of what makes Chania so beautiful and charming is its ancient history which dates back over 5,000 years. The modern-day city lies over the ruins of the ancient Minoan city of Kydonia, which Homer mentioned in his classic epic poem, The Odyssey. Chania has been part of the Minoan, Mycenean, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman empires. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in Europe.
The mix of architectural styles from these different periods has created a gorgeous and eclectic town, and as you stroll its narrow and windy streets and maze-like alleyways, you can see how beautifully these different styles meld together to create a harmonious and gorgeous town that truly reflects its historical lineage - a wonderful blend of east meets west.
The center of Old Town Chania is full of amazing cafes, restaurants, Greek tavernas, and artisan shops. As you stroll the streets prepare to get lost (at least temporarily) and delight in it. As you round the corner or turn down an alleyway, it becomes all about the art of discovery – the colors, the antiquity, the history, and even the very ruinous nature of some buildings – all combine to create and celebrate what can only be described as a magical experience. It’s the imperfection, rusticity, and antiquity that work together to create the Chania charm.
And simply because you have walked through the town once, please don’t make the mistake of thinking you have seen the town in its entirety. That would be visual and sensory heresy. Your second and third, and even your fourth strolls through town (on the very same streets) will undoubtedly produce new revelations and unveil new sightings. It will appear as though a new building or “town vignette” had been inserted since your last stroll. There is so much beauty to take in one needs several visits to really absorb it all. My recommendation is to come to Chania and see for yourself . . . you absolutely won’t regret it.
Your stroll around the old town will eventually lead you into the Old Venetian Harbor, and like the old town, it’s lined with restaurants and cafes. The harbor is perhaps the most popular and most photographed area of Chania, and with good reason. Not only is it stunning, but the harbor creates the opportunity to sit and relax at a cafe or restaurant and enjoy a drink or meal while you gaze at the crystal-clear water as it gently flows against the harbor walls. And if you gaze long enough and let your mind wander a bit, perhaps these very poignant and gentle words will resonate with you . . . “There’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.” (Author Sarah Kay) This is the Greek way of life. It’s enchanting, charming, quite compelling, and is lived beautifully in Chania.
Describing the beauty and charm of a town using language can often feel inadequate, especially when we have the magic of photography to show exactly how that beauty unfolds. So, please enjoy our photos of Chania - they are from our first 10 days here and I think you’ll agree . . . Chania is gorgeous and incredibly charming. There will be more images to come - I simply can’t help myself. This town begs to be seen and so I will oblige.