3000- 2800 BC Archaeological finds prove the existence of ancient Kydonia
2800 - 1150 BC. Minoan civilization. Ancient Kydonia is one of the strongest cities of Crete
1st millennium AD Kydonia prevails until the 7th century. A.D.
823 - 961 AD Arab rule
961 - 1252 AD Byzantine period
1252 - 1645 AD Venetian rule
1645 - 1897 AD Turkish rule
1898 AD Foundation of the Cretan State. Chania capital of Crete
1913 AD Union of Crete with Greece
In the mountains of Crete, Cretan Zeus was born and raised. Minos is mentioned in mythology as the son of Zeus and Europa. Minoan Crete with its ninety cities and their lads is also mentioned by Homer in the Iliad. The findings of the excavations prove that the island was already inhabited during the Neolithic era. During the Bronze Age, the Minoan civilization developed on the island, especially from 1900 BC. until the sudden stop of its evolution somewhere around 1500 BC. Knossos was its brilliant center. The Minoans controlled trade in the eastern Mediterranean basin and amassed great wealth. In the prefecture of Chania, we have archaeological findings from this period in the settlement on the hill of Kastelli. There was the most important Minoan settlement ku-do-ni-ja (Kydonia), below the present city of Chania. The excavations brought to light unique archaeological findings that are exhibited in the archaeological museum of Chania. In the prefecture there are also many tombs from the Late Minoan period (in Maleme, Fylaki and Stylos). Especially during the Late Minoan period (1550 BC - 1400 BC), with the rich and elaborate dwellings that were excavated, a high level of civilization is established. The houses consist of many rooms and have skylights, well-maintained facades, drainage system, paving, in some cases they also have a second floor. However, no wall paintings were found and the ceramic and plastic finds lag behind those of eastern Crete. Vaulted or carved chamber tombs were used for burials during the Mycenaean period.
ARCHAIC AND HELLENIC AGE, ROMAN RULE
Around 1100 BC a group of Dorians colonizes Crete. Many city-states were founded in the prefecture, with the most important being Kydonia, in the place where Chania is today. Kydonia develops into an important commercial center with relations with the Peloponnese, Boeotia, Cyprus, Phoenicia and Egypt. Other important cities are Polichni, Pergamon and Kerea in the province of Kydonia, Polyrhenia, Inachorion, Falasarna and Kissamos in the province of the same name, Aptera, Amphimala and Hydramia in Apokoronas, Elyros, Lissos, Syia , Kantanos and Hyrtakina in Selino, Anopolis, Aradin, Poikilasion and Tarra in Sfakia. In 524 BC. occupied by the Samians and in 519 BC. from the Aeginites. Kydonia, as a stronger city, is constantly in conflict with other large ancient cities of the Prefecture, such as Aptera, Polirynia, and Falasarna. But when an external danger threatened the whole island, the big cities united. Thus, in 74 BC, they managed to defeat the Roman fleet. Finally, in 68 BC the Roman emperor Kointos Metellus occupied the island. While Kydonia was also occupied, it was recognized as an independent city and experienced great prosperity during the Roman rule.
BYZANTIUM - ENETOKRATIA
The Roman Empire was succeeded by the Byzantine Empire, and Kydonia continued to play a leading role among the cities of the island. In 823, Crete was occupied by the Saracen Arabs, who, however, left no traces of their presence in the area. In 961 the emperor Nikiforos Phokas liberated the island. Kydonia remains an important settlement, but with a new name: Chania. The Byzantine period lasted until 1204, when Crete fell into the hands of the Venetians. From the Venetian period, important buildings are preserved today not only in the well-known cities and ports of Chania, Rethymno and Heraklion, but also in all corners of the island, castles, mansions and fortifications. After the fall of Constantinople, many scholars and artists from Byzantium found refuge in Crete.
After efforts of almost two centuries, the Turks managed to conquer the island in 1669. The Cretans strongly resisted the Turkish conqueror, paying a heavy blood tax for their love of freedom. Countless revolutions set fire to the island. One of the first movements of resistance was the revolution of 1770, led by Sfakianos Daskalogiannis, who was martyred by the Turks. The Chanians gave the airport of Chania his name, in honor of his sacrifice on the altar of freedom. In 1822, the Turkish conquerors were forced to call on the Egyptians for help in order to suppress the revolution. Thus in 1831 Crete passed into the hands of the Egyptians, while in 1851 the Turks transferred the Ottoman administration of Crete to Chania.
19th - 20th CENTURY
At the end of the 19th century, the Turkish military forces left the island, which until its union with Greece in 1913, was autonomous. It played an important role in the Union of Crete From 1898 to 1907, the Great Powers of the time occupied Crete: the Italians, the Germans and the Austrians. Prince George of Greece is appointed governor of the Autonomous Cretan State. The first government of the island is elected, which is based in Chania. In 1910, Eleftherios Venizelos, the great politician from Chania, was elected Prime Minister of Greece. On December 1, 1913, the Union of Crete with Greece takes place. Crete remains free until May 20, 1941, when the legendary Battle of Crete begins against the German conqueror. Crete strongly resisted the German conqueror as well. The Battle of Crete is a brilliant page in world history, as ordinary citizens, old people and children resisted an armed and powerful conqueror. The Cretans paid for their bravery with executions, torture and the destruction of entire villages by the Nazi regime. Despite the heroic resistance of the Cretans and the Allies, the island passed into German Occupation until 1945.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL FINDINGS-BYZANTINE-MODERN MONUMENTS
In addition to the Minoan antiquities and the findings of ancient Kydonia below the current city of Chania, many ancient cities of the classical and Roman periods can be found in every corner of the prefecture. East of Chania, lies the ancient Aptera, a city that flourished during the Hellenistic era (330-68 BC) and during the Roman period. Today the visitor can see part of the Hellenistic walls of the acropolis and many remains of the Roman era (vaulted tanks - thermal baths). Its position in Byzantium and the Turkish occupation left their traces, like Koules north of the hill, above the Izzedin fortress, opposite the Venetian fortress of the island of Souda. To the west of Chania is the ancient city of Polyrnia, where today remains of buildings from the Greek and Roman times are preserved. Its most impressive element is the imposing fortification of its citadel, a work of Byzantine times. The impressive ruins of Ancient Falasarna are also located west of the prefecture. Walled behind strong Hellenistic walls, the fortified harbor made the city one of the strongest naval and pirate cities in Crete. It was completely destroyed by Metellus in 68 BC. and was not inhabited again. The visitor will be impressed by the four towers of the port. Ancient Lissos played an important role as a religious center and organized the neighboring cities of Hyrtakina, Elyros and Tarra into the Federation of Mountains. Today, the ruins of Asklepiion, wonderful mosaic floors and many above-ground Roman tombs are preserved. The visitor will also admire other archaeological remains in various regions of the Prefecture: the ancient Minoa in Marathi Akrotiri, the ancient Pergamon in Vryses Kydonia, the temple of Diktynna in Menies, the Hellenistic remains in Rokka, the Roman houses with mosaic floors in Kissamos, the rural sanctuary of Poseidon in Tsiskiana, the ancient Elyros in Rodovani and the ancient Tarra at the exit of the Samaria gorge. The Byzantine Empire and Orthodoxy were the two axes that indelibly influenced the historical course of Crete. In the prefecture of Chania, more than 300 Byzantine churches are preserved today: the basilicas of Sougia and Almyrida, with their exceptional floor mosaics, the Rotunda or Church of the Archangel Michael (6th century) in Episkopi, with its unique architecture and many layers of hagiography , the Church of St. Nikolaou (11th cent.) in Kyriakoselia, of Panagia Zerviotissa (12th cent. ) in Stilo and the Church of Ag. Georgiou (1243) in Alikianos, with hagiographies by Pavlos Provatas (1430), the church of Ag. Georgiou (1314) in Komitades, the Mother of God in Kakodiki, Archangel Michael (14th century) in Aradena will impress the visitor. Monasteries have existed in Crete since the 1st Byzantine period before 824. In the 16th century, however, new monasteries were built and old ones renovated by the Venetians facing the Turkish threat. The most important ones are located in Akrotiri: the Monastery of Agia Triada or Tzagarolo (17th century), with many western architectural elements, the Monastery of Gdernetou (Governetou) dedicated to the Lady of the Angels (16th century), inside a canyon the "Catholic" of monastery of Ag. John the Hermit (17th century). Also important are the women's Monastery of Timiou Prodromos in Korakies, the Monastery of Panagia Odegetria or Gonia in Kolymbari (17th century), the Monastery of Ag. John Theologian in Stylos, the fortified Monastery of Panagia Chrysoskalitissa on the west coast of the island, the women's Monastery of Chrysopigi in Mournies, of Agia Kyriaki in Varypetro, the monastery of Agios Georgios in Karydi (12th century) etc. The countless conquerors left their mark on the entire Prefecture, with monuments that recall the drama of the Cretan people as well as their bravery. The fortress of Selinos in Paleochora (13th century), the Fragokastello (14th century), the ruins of the tower of Da Molin (13th century) in Alikianos, the castle of Chania, work of Sanmicheli (1537), the castle of island of Souda and the castle of Gramvousa, works by Orsini (1570 and 1579 respectively) are some of the early remains of the Venetian rule. the skins, such as Itzedin (1872) in Kalami, the koules of Aptera (1867), the koules of Askifos, and the tower of Alidakis in Embrosneros are representative remains of the Turkish occupation. The last conquerors of the island did not establish magnificent buildings, but they left a monument-reference to the horror and futility of human greed and war: the German Cemetery of the Second World War in Maleme, where 4400 German soldiers rest.
Editor: Fotini Anastasopoulou