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Chania, New City

Exploring the New City of Chania

Municipal Market, Chania, CreteFor the sake of convenience I will just call anything that is not in the Old Town: New Town. Chances are you won't visit most of these places anyway but I have included them because it would be like writing a hip person's guide to New York City's East Village without mentioning the rest of Manhattan. As I wrote in the section on Chania's old town, Hatzimichali Giannari street which is the same as N. Foka and Skalidi street is the border of the old and new towns. If you are standing at the front of the Demotiki Agora (Municipal Market) with your back to the market you will be looking at the New Town and it will be obvious because its mostly apartment buildings and there is a lot of traffic. If you have gotten used to life in the old town then life in the new town will be slightly alarming and you may find yourself running back in terror to the quiet narrow streets of Splantzia. But there are some things worth seeing in the New Town, not that I saw them all but trust me when I tell you that people who write guidebooks don't go to every single place they write about, nor do they eat at every restaurant they review.

Venetian Moat in Chania, CreteOne of the best ways to get an understanding of the difference between the old and new town is by climbing the western walls of the old town behind the Jewish Quarter to where you can see the Venetian moat which in 2009 they were in the process of restoring which will impress your kids if they are not impressed with Chania already. The most important reason for a tourist to go to the New Town is to appreciate the Old Town. But there are reasons you may have to go to the New Town like for instance if you are taking a bus somewhere. The KTEL Bus Station is at the intersection of Kidonias and Partheniou Kelaidi streets, a block west of 1865 Square which is sort of the center of town, where old men play tablis (backgammon) or cards and newly arrived immigrants looking for work sit while they try to get their bearings and wonder why they ever left home. Another reason you may be in the New Town is because your travel agent booked you here or you booked yourself in one of the big modern hotels because it looked nice on the website. That's OK. You can easily walk to the Old Town from most of the central hotels.

Peacock in Chania Public GardensIf you have kids a good reason to go to the New Town is to visit the Municipal Gardens, created by Reouf Pasha in 1870 where you can see a few of the remaining kri-kri, the Cretan wild goats that used to be quite plentiful. Or you can feed the ducks in the pond or grab your child and run from the geese when they are in attack mode or watch the male peacocks show off for the females. Or you can see the biggest rubber plants you have ever seen, or have a coffee in the shade at the cafe. If it is summer you can go to the outdoor Cinema, and set your watch by the giant clock, built in 1927. If you are a runner who is not happy unless he is going in circles you can cross the street and visit the stadium sandwiched between Andreas Papandreou and Eleftherios Venizelos streets, two of Greece's greatest Prime Ministers. If you walk up Papandreou street past the Turkish clock tower you can go to Platia Venizelos to the Nomarchia, the government building for the prefecture of Chania which is also the courthouse. Originally it was built as a military hospital in the closing days of Turkish rule.

Koum Koupi, Chania, CreteIf you walk along the shore of Koum-Kapi the old Turkish neighborhood outside the eastern walls and now where the youth of Chania congregate in the many cafes and continue to where Tsilivaki meets Eleftherios Venizelos Street you will come to Halepa, the upper class neighborhood that features the home of Eleftherios Venizelos, built by his father in 1880 on Venizelos Square which contains the Eleftherios Venizelos National Research Foundation. On the way you will pass the Politechnic University, another impressive building, and the Palace, the residence of the High Commissioner of Crete, Prince George. The Russian-looking church of Saint Magdalene is also on the same street while further on his the Church of the Evangelists on Romanov Street. For those with a car you can continue on to the base of the Akrotiri Peninsula which separates the city of Chania from Souda Bay where the ferry comes in by following signs to the airport until you come to the Venizelos Graves where he and his son Sophocles Venizelos, another Prime Minister of Greece are buried. In a spot chosen before hand by Venizelos himself as his final resting place, where you have a view of the entire city of Chania. You can also go for a coffee at Koukouvagia, which means owl, a popular hangout for students and another amazing view of Chania.

Beach looking towards Nea Hora and Old City, ChaniaLast of all is Nea Hora which is west of the Old Town along the coast which is a must for anyone who loves seafood. From here the beaches get better and better leading out to the western suburbs of the city where the Hotel Ammos is located. For those staying here you can walk into Chania in 45 minutes beach by beach. For those staying in the Old Town just keep walking until you find a beach you like. If it is a fish taverna you are seeking try Psarotaverna Manos, which we did. It has fresh fish, lots of mezedes and is one of the closest to the Old Town. Another reason to go to the New Town is because this is where to find all the larger shops that won't fit into a small Venetian building. Supermarkets, big electronic stores like Kotsobolos, department stores and clothing shops that the locals use are scattered around the downtown area. There are also a large number of real neighborhood restaurants and old man style cafeneons which in terms of food and atmosphere may be more authentic than what you will find in the Old Town which, lets face it, is a tourist town, though if not the best in Greece, close to it. If you are like me and always searching for that perfect place where one old guy serves coffee and raki and simple mezedes prepared by his wife to his friends you are more likely to find it in the New Town than the Old. If you do find it, please let me know.

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