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The department of Chania

(Xania, Hania, Chania)

Western Crete is completely isolated from the east by the Massif ofLEFKA ORI (the white mountains), which plunge to the south into the Libyan Sea.

The Akrotiri peninsula defines the great bay of Souda, the largest natural harbor in the Mediterranean.The Gramvousa Peninsuladelimits the bay of Xania and the gulf of Kissamos. The lands around Xania are very fertile. Many sources, valleys filled with orange trees, lemon trees, grapefruit trees. The vineyards of the Xania region are of very high quality. Few preserved archaeological sites in this region. A few sites of interest, such as APTERA.

In the south of the island, the LEFKA ORI (white mountains) plunge steeply into the Libyan Sea. The summits are often snow-capped until May. Some rocky bays and villages are only accessible on foot or by boat.

In antiquity, Xania was called KYDONIA. Many remains from the Minoan era have been found on the hill of Kastelli. It then had as much importance as KNOSSOS or GORTYNE in Roman times. The city was destroyed by the Arabs in 824. Rebuilt under the name of al-Hannim, and then improved by the Byzantines. It was the Venetians who gave it its size and its current name. (Canea). The city was however VERY appreciated by the Turks, who developed harems there, built mosques, built fountains and gardens.

The city is now a large urban complex.

The Venetian city of Xania (55,000 inhabitants) is very different from that of Rethymno. City closed in winter, lively in summer.

The old town is beautiful and worth a day of strolls. The covered market, built in 1913, the leather street, the Roman Catholic church of the Capuchins, the Shiavo bastion (one of the best preserved parts of the Venetian ramparts), the folk art museum and the archaeological museum.

It's good, out of season, to have a coffee on the old port of Xania .... Two very beautiful buildings symbolize the old port district:

- the Pasha Hassan mosque (late 17th century)

- the lighthouse, renovated in the 19 th century.

The peninsula of AKROTIRI:

On the way to the airport, we will take the time to take a break at the grave ofEleftherios Venizelos, lawyer and great statesman. He was the instigator of the attachment of Crete to Greece. 

It is also in this region that you will find the famous beach of Stavros, where the film Zorba the Greek was shot.

The Monastery of Agia Triada deserves your visit. In our opinion: one of the most beautiful monasteries in Crete.

A very beautiful road that we recommend: the road towards the plateau of Omalos. It ends at an altitude of 1300 m, and takes you... to the end of the world! For several centuries, the production of the plateau provided the subsistence of the villages of the valley, and the surrounding mountains provided pasture for herds of goats. It is also here that the rebellion against the Ottomans began in the last century. The hamlet of OMALOS is located at 1080 m and is the only village on the plateau. It is possible to spend the night at the Kallergi refuge, (1680 m) managed by theGreek Mountain Club (EOS).

One of the most beautiful hikes in the region: the peak of Gingilos (2080 m) which dominates the gorges of Samaria.

For the crossing of the Samaria gorges, we simply advise you to go through a local agency, it will be much simpler than organizing yourself so that one of you picks up the participants at Hora Sfakion. In our opinion, these are the most famous gorges of Crete, but not necessarily the most beautiful. We much prefer the Aradena Gorge.

We will never repeat it enough: do not launch an assault on the throats, whatever they are, in CLAP or BALLET FLATS.

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