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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 29 April 2017
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 29 APRIL 2017 21 TRAVEL Cretan delicacies: at Chrisostomos restaurant and the Municipal Market Chania's iconic lighthouse at the Venetian harbour with Firkas Fortress in the distance to the Turks in 1645. The site has added significance: on 1 December 1913, the Greek flag was raised here for the first time in the ceremony that marked Crete's unification with Greece. Head east along the waterfront, past the domed Yali Tzami mosque which dominates the approach to the port's eastern basin, keep walking, and you'll pass the Megalo Arsenali. Constructed by the Venetians in the 16th century to construct and repair their galleys, today the building houses the Center of Mediterranean Architecture. Beyond are seven more arsenali that give a further insight to the harbour's operations during Venetian rule. To complete your walk head out along the breakwater mole to Chania's iconic lighthouse. Built by the Venetians around 1600, its minaretstyle derives from its rebuilding by Crete's Egyptian rulers in the 1830s. LUXURIOUS HISTORY There are scores of hotel options to choose from in the Old Town, but for the more discerning guest who wishes to immerse themselves in the walled city, Serenissima Boutique Hotel delivers a sophisticated fivestar experience that is hard to match. Housed in a former Venetian mansion dating from 1550, the building was bequeathed to its present owner Stamatis Gkirtis by his grandfather. Mr Gkirtis began a loving renovation of the property in the early 2000s and opened its doors as a hotel in 2014. As a member of the Yades Greek Historic Hotels Group which celebrates Greece's cultural heritage by uniting hotels of exceptional historical significance, like the 18 other properties in the Yades Collection, Serenissima's ethos is all about providing guests not only luxurious comfort and the highest standards of customer service, but also a precious insight into the history and culture of Chania and its environs. Hidden away on Skoufon Street Serenissima is a refuge of calm, comprising seven beautifully appointed rooms (including three breathtaking superior suites with generous balconies) designed in a warm minimalist style. Coco-mat king mattresses and Molton Brown bath goodies give a hint at the attention to detail that is the mark of this refined establishment. Complementing the delicious accommodation, the hotel's fine dining restaurant, under the stewardship of chef Iosif Petrof, offers a menu that combines the finesse of French cuisine with the freshest Cretan ingredients. Good taste? Serenissima has it in spades. If you're after serenity, luxury and relaxation, this is a place to savour. MUST-SEE SITES Where to start. A stroll through the Old Town will take you beside the remains of Minoan palaces, Venetian arsenals, Ottoman timber houses, elegant mansions, and tiny Orthodox churches. Sites that should be on any visitor's list include: the Maritime Museum of Crete with its rich collection illustrating the history of seafaring in Crete and its unique Battle of Crete exhibits; the Archaeological Museum of Chania, housed in the beautifully restored 16th century monastery of Saint Francis Serenissima Boutique Hotel on Skoufon Street was once a Venetian mansion on Chalidon Street; the Byzantine and Post Byzantine Collection at the church of San Salvatore; and the Historical Museum and Archives in Heraklion (Sfakianaki 20) that traces Crete's war-torn history focusing on the struggle against the Turks. The restored Etz Hayyim Synagogue on Kondylaki includes a moving memorial to Chania's Jewish community that perished in WWII. SPLANTZIA QUARTER To escape the crowds head to this tangle of narrow streets which was the Turkish neighbourhood in Ottoman times. Now a fashionable neighbourhood, in Splantzia's 1812 Square the church of Agios Nicholas was once the city's central mosque. Today it is the only temple in Greece that has both a belfry and a minaret. MUNICIPAL MARKET Built in 1913 the agora is a vibrant slice of modern Chania. Constructed as Chania's main vegetable, fish, and meat market, today it operates in much the same way, supplying Chaniots with the staples of the tra- ditional Cretan diet. RESTAURANT PICK - CHRISOSTOMOS This award-winning taverna hides its treasures just behind the harbour at its eastern end. A favourite is lamb tsigariasto - a traditional dish from the south of Crete. Other delights include goat with mizithra, sfakiani pita, steamed stamnagathi, with olive oil and lemon. Fresh, healthy and delicious. GETTING THERE Aegean Airlines operates four services daily from Athens to Chania. Ryanair also flies to Chania from Athens. The author of this article is indebted to Heraklion-based historians Michele Buonsanti and Alberta Galla for use of their research provided in their book ‘Candia Veneziana - Venetian Itineraries through Crete’ published by Mystis. *Michael Sweet was a guest of Serenissima Boutique Hotel and travelled from Athens to Chania with the assistance of Aegean Airlines.
22 April 2017
6 May 2017