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Chania (Municipality, Greece)


Last modified: 2019-10-26 by ivan sache
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Flag of Chania - Image by Tomislav Šipek, 22 June 2019

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Presentation of Chania

The municipality of Chania (53,910 inhabitants; 1,300 ha) is the second largest town in Crete.

The town of Chania is built - according to the archaeological research - on the ruins of ancient Kydonia, which according to the mythology was founded by king Kydon and was one of the most important cities of Crete, as Homer mentioned, whereas Kydonians are supposed to be a pre-Hellenic tribe. According to the tradition, Kydonia was one of the three cities founded by King Minos in Crete.
The settlement that is presently excavated has as center the hill of Kasteli. Large habitations with well-built rooms, elegant floors with circular cavities-fireplaces, coated walls with deep red mortar, door frames and ceramics of excellent quality are some of the findings that indicate the existence of a significant proto-Minoan centre.

During the ancient period (3.000-2.800 BC) the old harbour was used by the ancient Minoans, as crossroad of all five continents. Furthermore, this harbour hosted ancient Kydonia to the late 7th century, one of the most important cities of ancient Crete, while it was conquered many times during the past by Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, Turks, Hebrews, Egyptians, and Arabs, till the end of the 19th century, when it was liberated.
The Byzantine wall surrounds the hill of Kasteli. It was built in the 12th century and its outline is irregular with longitudinal axle from the East to the West, where its two central gates were located. The wall consists of rectilinear parts, interrupted by small oblong or polygonal towers, and is founded over the ruins of an older fortification of the Hellenistic period.

The fortress Revellino del Porto on the northwest side of the port of Chania was constructed by Venetians to prevent any enemy danger for the port. Its construction began in 1610 and completed a few years before the fall of the city in Turks in 1645.
The interior was organized to barracks and ammunition storage areas. It was also the headquarters of the Army Commander of the city. In about the middle of the courtyard, there is a large domed water tank that gathered rain water from the roofs. On the northern side of the wall there are six arched openings that included cannons for the protection of the entrance of the harbour. During the Turkish period Revellino was used as barrack (firka). The arched openings were used as prisons from the Turkish period to the Civil War. On the corner watch tower of the fortress the Greek flag of the Unification of Crete was raised on 1 December 1913 in an official ceremony.

The Egyptian Lighthouse, which is one of the oldest in the world, prevails in the old port of Chania. The sea-tossed stone lighthouse that is located at the edge of the breakwater, is not only the "guard" of the old Venetian port, but also its most famous jewel.
The lighthouse was constructed by the Venetians at the end of 16th century. It has been reconstructed by the Egyptians during the period 1830-1840, when English had assigned Crete to the regent of Egypt, Mehmet Ali. At the end of the Ottoman Empire, the project had been completed with the addition of the ladder in its east side, as well as pipes, through which passes sea water under the surface of its base. The lighthouse has a height of 21 m, height from sea surface 26 m and its light reaches a distance of 7 miles. Its base is octagonal, the middle part has 16 angles, while the top part is circular.

Finally, Chania - as well as the whole Crete - was united with independent Greece in 1913 with the significant help of the great Greek politician Eleftherios Venizelos (1864-1936). The graves of Venizelos family is one of the most popular places that offer a panoramic view of Chania, only a few kilometres east of the city, on the road to Akrotiri and airport. Here are located the graves of the charismatic Greek politician and seven times Prime Minister of Greece (1910-1915, 1915, 1917-1920, 1924, 1928-1932, 1032, 1933), and his son, Sofoklis Venizelos (1894-1964), who was also Prime Minister of Greece (1944, 1950, 1950-1951). Nearby is located the small church of Profitis Ilias and the statue of Spyros Kagialedakis or Kagiales, who on 9 February 1897, during the bombing of the revolted Cretans by the fleet of the great forces, made his body flagstaff to raise the Greek flag that had been dropped by the bombshells of the ships.
[Chania Tourism]

The statue of Spyros Kagiales in the same park refers to a legendary feat of bravery that occurred in 1897. Venizelos and a group of rebels had raised a Greek flag at that spot. The Ottoman forces had requested help from the foreign admirals and attacked the rebels, with the ships of the Great Powers fleet bombarding the rebel positions. A shell broke the flagpole and threw down the flag, which was raised up again immediately by Kagiales.
[Chania visitor's guide

Ivan Sache, 24 June 2019

Flag of Chania

The flag of Chania (photo, photo, photo) is a Greek cross flag (white on blue) with an old coin in the center and name in base, in yellow letters.

The coin (photos), minted in the ancient town of Kydonia, features hero Kydon portrayed stringing his bow and accompanied by his dog.
According to Pausanias, the Cretans themselves say that Kydonia was named after the hero Kydon, son of Hermes and Akakallis, daughter of Minos; this was also the version provided by the Milesian historian Alexander Polyhistor in his Kretika, with the addition that Akakallis bore Kydon to Hermes, and Naxos to Apollo. More important is a variant of this tradition, without attribution, preserved in Stephanos of Byzantium's Ethnika: "Kydonia, a city in Crete, formerly known as Apollonia; derived from Kydon, son of Apollo and Akakallis, daughter of Minos." The importance of Apollo, father of Kydon, in Kydonian cult is well attested in the Late Classical and Hellenistic periods. The earliest evidence comes from a Kydonian public dedication to Apollo, Artemis, and Leto of the early 4th century BC.
According to legend, his mother left him in the forest and the infant, was suckled by a she-wolf, or hound since stories of infants nourished by animals are common in Greek and Roman mythology (representations are found on the coins of Kydonia). This myth possibly refers to Rome's founders, Romulus and Remus, who also raised by a wolf.
Moreover, the Arkadian version of the myth narrates that Kydon came to Crete as an infant, (Paus. viii 53, 4) so it would not be surprising if he was thought to have been taken care of by an animal.
In another version of the myth, Pausanias informs us that Kydon was the son of Tegeati, founder of the city of Tegea in Arcadia, and had two brothers Archidio and Gortyn. The brothers eventually moved to Crete and founded the cities: Kydonia, Katreas and Gortys.
[Chania Archeological Museum]

Tomislav Šipek & Ivan Sache, 24 June 2019