The Municipal Unit of Chania is located in the north of the prefecture of Chania and is based in the capital of the prefecture, Chania. It is a coastal municipal unit, which according to the 2001 census, has a total of 53,373 inhabitants and an area of 12,564 acres. The D. section includes 1 municipal district: D.d. Chania – Chania.
MYTHOLOGY-NEOLITHIC AND MINOAN AGE
The city of Chania was once called KYDONIA.
On the hill of Kastelli, a district in the old port of Chania, was the acropolis of ancient Kydonia or Ku-do-ni-ja of the tablets of the linear B script.
Homer mentions the Kydones as one of the five Cretan tribes and Kydonia as one of the most important cities of Crete. A city that due to the handicrafts and trade that it had developed, gained wealth and power. It is said that King Minos divided Crete into three parts, founding three cities, Kydonia, Knossos and Gortyna.
In 1965 the then archaeologist Giannis Tzedakis, began to excavate the Early Minoan settlement on the hill Kastelli, which included large houses with well-built rooms, plastered walls with deep red mortar, well-kept floors with circular pits, hearths, and parts of the settlement from other parts. parts of the old and the new city, and to reveal the existence of Kydonia and its continuous habitation since the end of the Neolithic era (3000-2800 BC) and in all periods of the Minoan era (Early Minoan I 3650-3000 e.g. – Late Minoan III C 1190-1070 BC period).
During the Middle Minoan period (first half of the 2nd millennium), the settlement of Kasteli Chania developed simultaneously with agriculture, trade and shipping. In this part of the Middle Minoan period, the excavations which include building remains are few, due to the construction activity that followed in the following periods. However, the very few building remains from the Early Minoan and Middle Minoan years that were found, confirm that the center of this coastal settlement was always the hill in Kastelli of an area, located in the old port of Chania.
During the Late Minoan period (second half of the 2nd millennium BC) the settlement of Kasteli of Chania shows a prosperity with most of the Minoan finds at that time, and with samples of a palace settlement. An urban plan in squares appears for the first time, the houses are built richer and more majestic, sometimes with two floors and several rooms and with “palace” architectural elements, such as e.g. skylights, facades, sewer system.
In 1450 BC, the facility was destroyed by fire.
The best surviving phase belongs to the Neo-Palace years, with the Greek-Swedish excavation giving the most complete picture of St. Catherine Square, which revealed an entire floor plan of a house, sections of three others, narrow streets and a small square. The Neo-Palace period also includes part of an extensive complex of Kydonia, which was discovered during the excavations of 1989 in the southeastern foothills of Kastelli hill, in the district of Splantzia. This included an underground sanctuary or reservoir, skylights, multi-door rooms, a stone outdoor platform, a large courtyard, a fire pit with carcasses and a grate pit, and a series of basement rooms.
It is the first time that such a place is revealed in Western Crete.
The above, identify the building as a sacred space.
At the end of this period, an important find is dated, a unique clay seal, known as Master Impression. It depicts in a rocky coastal landscape, a multi-storey complex (city or sanctuary or palace), bastion horns and a dominant male figure (god or ruler).
At the end of the Late Minoan period III (1400-1100 BC) and specifically in the 14th and 13th century BC, a new prosperity of the settlement appears and construction continues over the ruins of the catastrophic fire of 1450 BC. , with some parts of older buildings being reused with or without conversions.
The Linear B writing tablets, also found during the Greek-Swedish excavation in 1989/1990, date to 1300 BC. and indicate the possibility of a palace-type establishment and centralized administrative organization. On these plates, the main male names are mentioned in relation to the cities of Crete, ten pairs of wheels, the Gods of Zeus and Dionysus and the sanctuary of Zeus.
Egyptian, Cypriot, Italian, Syro-Phoenician and Mycenaean imports took place at that time. The result of these contacts is the strong Mycenaean presence in Crete, which influenced ceramics, architecture and small crafts.
This Minoan settlement on the Kastelli hill in the city of Chania, is abandoned for reasons that did not become known. This is evidenced by the empty rooms, as well as the absence of evidence of destruction, in the Late Minoan III C period (ca. 1190-1070 BC) and thus, the prosperity of the Late Minoan period ends.
The Geometric Age begins at the beginning of the first millennium. It is marked mainly by the spread of the cremation of the dead, by the use of iron and of course by the decoration of the vessels, with geometric patterns.
Architectural remains of the Geometric period and the early archaic (1050-650 BC), have been little identified to date in the city, despite the number of corresponding pottery, which comes mainly from ancient waste pits.
A part of the frieze, located in the Museum of Chania of the early 7th century, is an exception. It depicts the facade of a temple with the statue of the Goddess inside and is framed by archers who protect it from horse attack.
In place of the present city of Chania, was Kydonia of historical times, although the remains of the settlement itself on the hill of Kastelli and in the center of the present city, have disappeared for the most part, due to the successive construction. Judging by the tombs that have been unearthed and by the testimonies of ancient writers, this period must have been a time of prosperity for the area. The foundation of classical Kydonia is attributed to Samian settlers, who left their island in 524 BC. when Polycrates became a tyrant there. The Samians of Kydonia submitted to the Aeginians who ran to the aid of the locals, after five years. The territory of the city extended to Cape Spatha in the West, Melecha in the East and the foothills of the White Mountains and Aptera in the South. In 429 BC, the city was looted by its neighbors Polichnites with the alliance of the Athenians. In 74 BC, the inhabitants successfully resisted the Roman siege under Marco Antonios. Quinto Metello the Cretan (as he was named after his victory), plundered the city in 69 BC. and then occupied the whole of Crete.
Kydonia, as an independent city, minted its own coins that had been circulated in many types, some of which bear on one side the head of Artemis or Apollo and on the other side, the word KYDONIATAN together with the scene of a hunting or lynx feeding Kydonas. (photo)
In those years in the area of Chania, life must have been peaceful. This can be deduced from the sculptures brought to light by the excavations, from the luxurious public and private buildings, the mosaic floors, found in various parts of the city.
The theater of the ancient city survived until 1585, but it was demolished by the Venetians, to use part of its building material in the construction of the outer walls. In these years, the initial condition of the Byzantine wall of the citadel of Kasteli must also be determined. The necropolis of the settlement of historical times, was spread around it presenting a diachronic continuity from the Middle Minoan period until the end of antiquity.
EARLY CHRISTIAN YEARS - A' BYYZANTINE PERIOD - ARABOCRACY - B' BYBYZANTINE PERIOD
The discovery under the foundations of the Venetian Cathedral (Duomo) in the district of Castelli, a large early Christian basilica, is the most important archaeological evidence, which confirms that in this period, here was the city center. The city of Kydonia continues to flourish in the first Byzantine period until the Arab conquest. Christianity has been spreading since the 1st century. In the Synod of Sardis (Sofia) in 342-343, the Bishop of Kydonia also participates and is often mentioned in the Minutes of Synods and Ecclesiastical “Regular”, until the 9th century. Tomb inscriptions and tombs from the church of Agios Ioannis and in the area of the current Orphanage, show that there were the extensive cemeteries of the city, during this period.
From the following centuries there is a gap in the sources and in the archeological testimonies. There is also a lot of destruction, especially in monuments that existed in coastal locations and this is certainly due to the savage Arab invasions. The conquest of Crete by the Saracens in 824 AD, will create great upheaval in the life of the place, with consequences in the social, economic and religious sector.
The Arab occupation, from 824 AD. to 961 (when Crete was recaptured by Nikiforos Fokas), is a dark period for Kydonia. The historical sources are not very clear and no archeological evidence has been found. During this period and around 828, Kydonia must have been destroyed, as happened with most of the cities of Crete.
For the NW Byzantine period (961 – 1252), the only indication of a settlement in the area of Kydonia is the fortress of the Byzantines who built on the hill Kastelli, with building materials from ancient Kydonia.
So the name Kastelli may come from the wall.
At that time the name Kydonia seems to have been abandoned and replaced by the name Chania. The city loses its original importance and for this reason its diocese is transferred to the nearby Agia.
The new name is mentioned for the first time in the document “Sexteriorum Cretensioum in Militas division” of 1211 as “Cania” and in 1252 as “Canea” in the concession document of the region of Chania. Various views have been expressed on its origin and etymology. The most prevalent is the one given by Nikolaos Platon, according to which the name Chania comes from the toponym Alhania komi. The specific place name comes from the god Velchanos who was then worshiped in Crete and is none other than Hephaestus (= Vulcanus). The Arabs adapted it to their own language and interpreted it as Al Hanim (= the inn). Al was later considered an article and translated into “Chania” or “La” Canea.
VENETIAN OCCUPATION (1252 - 1645)
After the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Crete was given to Boniface, Marquis of Momfera who sold it to the Venetians for 1000 silver marks, but before the agreement was signed in 1206, the Earl of Malta Henry Pescatorore occupied Crete, and it took 8 years until Venice manages to expel the Genoese from the island.
From 1212 until the end of the Venetian occupation, the Cretans carried out 27 revolutions. Leaders of these revolutions, were members of the families of the 12 Archontopoulos Skordylides, Mellissins, and Drakontopoulos, who had retained their feudal privileges and were distinguished for their material and spiritual wealth, but also for their obsession with the Orthodox Doctrine and apostasy. .
In these constant uprisings, the role of the “nobles” and the clergy was great and Western influence almost non-existent, despite the intense proselytizing efforts made by the Venetians.
In 1252 the Venetians were permanently imposed in the area of Chania, dividing it into 90 “cavalry” of which 15 remain in public and 75 are distributed to the Venetian settlers, with the order to rebuild the city. ‘So they repair the wall of Kasteli, build public buildings and the cathedral of Panagia. The public buildings are developed along the main road (corso – today’s Kanevaro street) that crosses Kastelli from the East.
‘Outside the walls at the beginning of the 14th century, the monasteries of St. Francis of the Franciscans and St. Nicholas of the Dominican monks were built. Gradually the city spreads around the wall and the “extrovert” neighborhoods of the lower social classes are formed.
Chania is evolving into the second city of the “Kingdom” (Regno di Candia), it is the seat of the “Rettore” who had political and military duties, and the seat of a Latin Bishop and was for the Venetians the center of a rich agricultural area and the port of Chania, the center of trade and protection of their fleet.
The long coexistence and contacts with Venice, will create the social and cultural rapprochement of the two peoples and the appropriate conditions to develop a local culture known as the “Cretan Renaissance”, in the fields of Literature, Architecture and Painting.
In the middle of the 16th century, Venice decided to re-fortify the city in order to face the danger of a Turkish attack. ‘Thus, he entrusts the design and supervision of the projects to the Veronese engineer Michele Sammichieli. Construction work began in 1538 and was gradually completed in the second half of the century. The new wall forms a rectangle parallel to the beach, reinforced at the corners by heart-shaped bastions, which ends at the jetty with the lighthouse. The city is surrounded by a moat, but it was never filled with water.
Extensive work is also being done to improve the port of Chania by cleaning and dredging it, strengthening the jetty and improving the services it provided. Temples are built and repaired, large public and private buildings, which follow the trends of Venetian Mannerism. The water supply network is also being improved with the construction of large tanks inside the fortress of Firkas and the repair and expansion of the underground aqueduct in Splantzia square. The water is transferred from the springs of the village Perivolia to the reservoirs, passing the moat with a water bridge on its Southwest side.
A new aqueduct is being built, buildings to serve military needs, and new arsenals are being built (Arsenali), which would ensure the protection of the fleet in winter and allow the repair and maintenance of ships and their equipment. Today, a large group of 7 consecutive domes and an even further west, the large Arsenal, survive from the large complex of 17 neorias.
The fortification is reinforced with fortresses on the islets of Theodoros, Souda as well as on the isolated islet of Gramvousa, in order to protect the first natural port one encountered when arriving in Crete, the control of the Cretan Sea and the early warning of other fortresses.
THE OCCUPATION BY THE TURKS AND THE SIEGE.
For a long time, the Turks have been eyeing the valuable island of Crete for the control of the Mediterranean.
In 1527, Turkish pirates robbed 2 ships in the area of Chania, in 1538 the pirate Hairedin Barbarossa, starting from Chania, looted Crete and in 1539 the fortress of Selinos was captured. Also in 1571, Turks approached the port of Souda, looted the surrounding villages capturing many inhabitants and in 1644 with a trivial occasion given when pirates of the Ioannina Knights captured a ship with pilgrims heading to Mevi. Turks accused the Venetians of violating the treaties and collaborating with the pirates.
So suddenly in June 1645, the commission began
The new conquerors created the “Egialeti of Crete”, which was initially divided according to the standards of the Venetians into 4 sections (Sitia, Chandaka, Rethymno, Chania). Later they merged Sitia with Chandakas, dividing Crete into 3 parts.
Only Sfakia retained a form of peculiar independence that had initially been attributed to their assignment under the protection of Valide Sultana, Eumenia Vergitsi, ie the Queen Mother.
After the conquest of Chania, the socio-political conditions changed and a new situation was formed. The Muslim element is the ruling class with a feudal character. The Turks, in their attempt to join the locals, restored the Orthodox Bishop of Kydonia with the center of the church of Agios Anargyros, which will function as a cathedral, until the middle of the 19th century.
The most important impact of the Turkish conquest was on the intellectual life of the place. Cretan scholars were scattered in Greece and abroad and darkness prevailed on the island. Exception, the action of some monasteries and monks. In the Monastery of Gonia, there was a library that was a center for copying manuscripts and the bishop of Kydonia, Arsenios, was a personality in the field of letters. Only at the end of the 18th century, an educational reorganization took place, testifying to the existence of 2 schools in 1791 in Chania.
Inside Chania, the walls are being repaired, the large churches and the catholics of the Venetians are being turned into mosques and the large fortunes are falling to the Turks. The Turks live mainly in the eastern districts of Castelli and Splantzia, which also houses the main mosque, the former church of St. Nicholas of the Dominicans, now the Hugar Mosque (Hegemon Mosque). Christians live mainly in the Topanas district to the west, which took its name from the Venetian powder keg (Turkish Top-Hane) at the beginning of Theotokopoulou, and around the church of Agioi Anargyroi. The Turkish Pasha now lives in the Palazzo of the Venetian Rector in Kastelli.
The Turks are also building new mosques, such as the Kucuk Hassan Mosque (Little Hassan Mosque), or the Yali Mosque (the seaside mosque) in the Old Port. They are building public baths (hamams), three of which survive to this day, as well as public fountains connected to mosques, according to the Muslim religion.
The changes in the field of architecture concern the new uses and the different way of life of the Turks, in relation to the previous conquerors. Many Venetian nobles, or Orthodox, converted to Islam in order to maintain their privileges. The Turko-Cretans follow their new religion only in certain types, while retaining elements from the old one, in their private life. They speak the local dialect with a few Turkish words, often have Greek surnames, dress in the same way as the locals and maintain the same customs and traditions as them, despising their Oriental fellow-believers. So in the field of architecture not much will change, as the same structural materials are used which to a certain extent determine the forms, while the builders are the same craftsmen, who were not formed under the influence of Venetian Mannerism. This tradition will continue until the end of the 19th century, when the current of Neoclassicism comes to renew the existing tradition with the artistic trends of the free Greek state.
In the fertile plain of Chania, new complexes of agricultural exploitation and housing, the “metochia”, are repaired or built, in parallel with the dwellings owned by the landowners in the city protected by the walls. Conditions for Christians are difficult. They deal mainly with the Jews, with trade, handicrafts and shipping. In Chania, the oil trade and the soap industry are developing, sectors in which the Turko-Cretans are particularly distinguished.
The revolution of Daskalogiannis-Vlachos in 1770 and the abominable end reserved for him by the Turks (they killed him alive) but also all the revolutions during the turbulent 19th century, affected both the socio-political structures of Cretan life, as well as the evolutionary processes in the administrative and cultural sector.
The revolutionary actions started from Sfakia in April 1821, causing a strong shock in the relations between the two peoples. After the victorious battle on June 14, 1821, the Turks took revenge. The bishop of Kissamos, Melchisedek Despotakis, and the teacher-deacon Kallinikos from Veria, are hanged in the big plane tree of Splantzia square, as well as all the nuns of the Prodromos monastery, in Akrotiri. In August, the Turks reached Sfakia and destroyed it.
Because the revolutionary action of the Cretans did not stop, Sultan Mahmut asked for help to Mehmet Ali of Egypt, who in 1822 sent forces to the island. In 1824 and after dozens of clashes, the Egyptians suppressed the Cretan revolution. In 1830, after the intervention of European forces, Crete decided to remain under the jurisdiction of the sultan, who in turn ceded it to Mehmet Ali of Egypt in exchange for his help in suppressing the Cretan revolution.
During the Egyptian occupation, the lighthouse was rebuilt in the form of a minaret, while the Egyptian Administration publishes in Chania the first Cretan newspaper “Vakai Girit” (Voice of Crete), half in Greek and half in Arabic.
The Egyptians in their attempt to do a series of public works, imposed large taxes resulting in the reaction of the Cretans. One of the most important reactions took place in September 1833 and became known as the “Mournia movement”, from the homonymous area. With this movement, the Great Powers expressed their dissatisfaction with economic measures, political and military powers. The Great Powers were indifferent and the Egyptian authority retaliated with violence and hangings.
Eventually Crete remained under Egyptian occupation until 1841, when it returned to Turkish rule.
Then the Hairetis movement broke out and in 1858, the Mavrogenis Movement. In 1856 the Hatti Humayun was voted, with which the Cretans succeeded in owning free weapons, practicing worship and respecting their religion, as well as the establishment of Christian Elders who were responsible for education, social welfare, inheritance and family. of law.
In 1850, the seat of the Turkish governor of Crete was moved to Chania, the capital of the nightmare that until now was located in Chandakas, where the Turkish commander resides in a massive multi-storey building called “konaki”, built in part on the site of the Venetian Palazzo.
In 1866 the constant encroachments of Hatti Humayun led to the great Cretan revolution that lasted until 1869. In the area of Chania, Ioannis Zymbrakakis was appointed leader. This was followed by the heroic struggle in Arkadi and finally the struggles in Eastern Crete. After the suppression of the revolution in 1869, the situation in Crete was desperate. Once again in 1877, a movement for the solution of the Cretan question started from Chania.
In 1878 the Convention of Aleppo is signed, which takes its name from the homonymous aristocratic suburb to the east of the city. The Convention designates a co-religious General Commander of Crete, usually from aristocratic circles in Constantinople, separates Crete from the rest of the Ottoman Empire, and grants certain privileges to Christians, including the establishment of Educational Associations and the establishment of Educational Associations. Until then – and with the exception of a few illegal monographs – the semi-official newspaper of the Turkish Administration “Crete” was published from 1867. Using the provisions of the Aleppo Convention, the people of Chania formed in 1879 the “Minos” Educational Association and the “Dimitra” Agricultural Association (with similar purposes), which later merged to finally disintegrate after a short time. In 1880, the theatrical troupe “Efterpi” was created, with its members selected members of the Chania society among them and Eleftherios Venizelos, who give performances of plays or support theatrical groups that visit Chania. At the same time, from 1880 onwards, several newspapers began to be published in Chania: “Lefka Ori”, “Alithia”, “Patris”, “Amyna”, the satirical “Kissa”, as well as several Turkish ones. In 1884, the Bar Association of Chania was established.
Social conditions are thus changing and strengthening a local bourgeoisie with connections to both the free state and European countries, many of which have direct transport and developed trade. The organization of the Christian community in the fields of religion, education, culture and national rehabilitation is strengthened, unlike the Muslim one, which is declining mainly in the countryside. With the passage of time and the constant developments in the Cretan Question, the involvement of the “protecting” Forces as they are called, becomes more intense. Chania is transformed into a multinational society with a modern way of life, contrary to the conservative customs of the place until then. There is intense construction activity, and trade with abroad is growing.
In 1889, however, Turkey significantly reduced the privileges of the Cretans, followed by the revolution of 1889, which was suppressed after eight months. In 1895 the Post-Government Committee was formed, but on May 11 the population of Chania suffered a great massacre, as in the following year 1897, when the community shops opposite the cathedral, which included the episcopal palace and the girls’ school, were set on fire.
The Great Powers, always interested in Crete because of its strategic importance, decide the international occupation of the island.