The Ancient Capital of Crete
The second largest city on the island of Crete, Hania, or Chania, is a jewel overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. On an MSC Cruise, you will have the chance to get a close-up view of this picturesque town whose history is lost in Minoan civilization, then passing under Venetian and later Ottoman domination.
Its historic center, which can be visited on an excursion, is housed between the imposing walls and the port, both built by the Venetians. Along Kanevarostreet, a display of houses and buildings can be found recognizable for their Italian character ‒ the gates still contain the coats of arms of La Serenissima (Republic of Venice) ‒ to which are added the typical features of Turkish architecture. In the old city, you can visit the Jewish quarter with the synagogue, and Kastelli, where the foundations of the Minoan houses can be found. The Church of San Nicola is also not to be missed. Built in 1320 by the Dominicans, it was later converted into a mosque and in 1918, was transformed into an Orthodox church. Returning to the port, in front of the dock, it is impossible to miss the KioutsoukHasan Mosque, known as the Janissaries Mosque, the oldest in Crete.
Leaving Chania, you can head to Rethymno or Rethimno: this charming town also preserves traces of the Venetian and Ottoman passages. At the time of the Doges, Rethymno was known for being a cultural center where intellectuals and artists of the period passed by frequently. Of note are the great fortress, built on a promontory by the Venetians in 1646 to protect the inhabitants from Turkish invasions, and the Tis Nerantzes Mosque, which was once the church of St. Mary; in Gothic style, the minaret was added in 1890.
It is also possible to visit the Agia Triada Monastery on an excursion. Elegant and magnificent, this sacred place was built in the 17th century according to Renaissance architectural dictates and is home to hundreds of monks.