Heaven Apartments – Chania-Crete, Greece

The island

Sightseeing – Excursions

  • Visit the well known beach of Falassarna (about 40km west of Santa Marina Beach Hotel, a 40 minute drive). At this beach you will also find windsurfing, and kite surfing. Along the way, visit the 13th Century Gonia Monastery (just 1km from Kolymbari village).
  • Visit the lagoon like beach of Elafonisos and stop at the Monastery of Chrysoskalitissa along the way (about a 1 and a half hour drive from Santa Marina Beach Hotel).
  • Balos lagoon and Gramvousa islet – a full day trip (take a ferry, available daily, from the port of Kissamos). For further info, have a look at:  http://www.gramvousa.com/ (on-line booking is now possible).
  • Visit the ruins of the ancient city of Polyrinia (40 kilometers from Santa Marina Beach Hotel). Polyrinia is considered to be the oldest city that the Dorians built in Crete (following the Minoan Period).
  • Visit the Archaeological Museum of Kissamos (35 km from Santa Marina Beach Hotel) housed in a Venetian-Turkish monument.
  • Hike the Samaria gorge – This is the well known gorge of Samaria, where thousands of visitors come to Crete and hike this gorge. This is a 15km (mainly downhill) hike – a whole day event. You can do it on your own by use of the local bus service from Chania central bus station or, and this is more convenient for you, by organized tour from Santa Marina Beach Hotel (ask us while you are staying with us).
  • Therisso gorge: This is a unique gorge as it is one that you drive through to reach the village of Therisso where there are several tavernas. Continue to explore the traditional villages of Zourva and Meskla – beautifully scenic drive.
  • The Eleftherios Venizelos tombs: (historical site) are located high above Chania centre and old town (great views) in the direction of Chania airport.
  • Aptera archaeological site – This small archaeological site (ancient town of the Minoan era) is well worth a visit. From here there are wonderful sea views to the port of Chania (Souda) and the Akrotiri peninsula.
  • Itzedin Castle: A Turkish castle, built in the 19th Century. Also known as the Kalami fort.
  • Lake Kournas – The only freshwater lake in Crete! A good small trip to take with the family to enjoy the wonderful views to the mountains, lake and the sea. Walk around the lake, paddle-boat, feed the ducks and have a snack/lunch at one of several cafes/taverns.
  • Imbros gorge – A short and easy hike (about 8km) that starts at originates from the last houses of the village and end at Komitades village. A guide is not needed. Once at Komitades village you can take a taxi back to your car (or if you are up to it, hike all the way back).
  • Diktamos gorge – Hike the 7km gorge of Diktamos. This begins at Katochori village Malaksa and ends in Stylos village (or vice versa). The hike takes about 3 and a half hours each way. At Stilos village visit the church of Agios Ioannis Theologos and enjoy a drink/ meal at one of the taverns.
  • Hike the Deliana gorge (this unchallenging but rewarding hike takes about two hours in total). You will likely see goats and the Griffon vultures.
  • Maheri gorge – Hike this 4km gorge which starts at Kares village (at the church of Agios Nikolaou) and ends at the entrance to Maheri village (or vice versa). This church of Agios Nikolaou is located at Kuriakosellia (towards Samonas village) and has byzantine frescoes. It is a beautiful church with archaeological significance. If you intend on visiting this church, do let us know as we would need to make arrangements for the key to the church (as it is not always open).
  • Visit the centre of Chania as well as the must-see old Venetian harbor and town (about 8km from Santa Marina Beach Hotel).

Some of the more popular places there are the Naval Museum, the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Museum, the Archaeological museum, the Turkish mosque (which now functions as an arts exhibit hall), the Municipal Art Gallery of Chania, the Jewish Synagogue and Hallidon Street (the most famous street of the old town). For more information, have a look at http://www.chania.gr/en and http://www.xania.net/oldharbor.html (with several photos) and http://www.west-crete.com/

The nearby village of Platanias is the core centre of tourism, entertainment and night life in Chania. In this coastal village, there are several restaurants, bars, clubs, cafes, Go-Karts, children’s entertainment venues, mini-golf, trampolines, internet café, mini-markets, supermarkets, pharmacy, ATM, post office, doctor’s office, car and bike rental companies, souvenir stores and more.

Within the village of Agia Marina, you will find; supermarkets, mini-markets, bank, ATM, cafes, restaurants, taverns, fast food stores, bakery, beach bars, music bars, petrol stations, a hair dressing salon, taxis, car rental, bike rental, bicycle rental, pharmacy, doctor’s office, post office, small shops and more.

Some of the activities available within the village and surrounds are: water sports (such as jet ski, paddle boat, canoe, wind surfing, parasailing, banana boat and boat trips to Thodorou island, cave visits, bird watching, mini-golf and visit small local churches.

The bus station (for busses to Chania centre and prefecture) is on the main coastal road (old National Road) directly in front of Santa Marina Beach Hotel. Tickets can be bought on the bus.

Crete in the past

The first signs of human life on Crete date back to around 6000 years ago in the Neolithic age. The wealth of the island and its geographical position played a significant role in the long history of Crete. It was both heaven and hell since Cretans were constantly forced to confront many conquerors and pirates that contested the island. Through this struggle for survival Cretan people became brave, unsubdued and even in the more recent wars against Germans and their allies their courage, fighting spirit and their determination to freedom or death were well recognized.

Besides earning a name as a proud and fighting people the Cretans developed the Minoan culture that affected all the known world of the time. Crete developed, spread and imported culture through commercial transactions during the Copper or Minoan era.

Minoan culture

According to archaeologists Minoan culture, named after King Minos, was the first advanced civilization in Europe. Its starting point is estimated around 2600BC and it lasted until the 12th century, the age of the Trojan War and the Dorian invasion. The early period of Minoan culture is marked by the endurance of some features of the Neolithic age, which preceded, as well as the use of copper and other metals that pushed commerce, which also profited by the important geographical position of Crete. So, the commercial activity of the island started to expand and great commercial centers emerged initially in eastern Crete and later in more central parts of the island. Cretans traded with Cyprus, Cyclades, Near East and later with Egypt and Syria.

Minoan civilization flourished during 2000- 1700BC when architecture and pottery advanced greatly. This is the period when the great palaces of Knossos, Phaestos, Zakros and Malia were built whereas the pottery of this period manifests Minoans’ great artistic skill. It is worth mentioning that the first Cretan script appears during this period. This script gradually started to resemble Egyptian hieroglyphics and as archaeologists claim it served primarily trading purposes. A distinctive example of Cretan script is the well-known Phaestos Disc. Around 1700BC the palaces of Knossos, Phaestos, Zakros and Malia were suddenly destroyed. The cause of this sudden destruction, according to most archaeologists, was probably the eruption of the volcano on Santorini. However, Minoans rebuilt those palaces and this time they became more complex and served more purposes since they included royal apartments, reception halls, workshops even warehouses. They also developed a remarkably advanced drainage system. Probably the complexity of the new palaces caused the invention of the well-known myth of the Labyrinth and the Minotaur.

Among the archaeological findings in Knossos, which were brought to light by Sir Arthur Evans beginning in 1900AD, were frescos that depict various scenes of the Minoan society, women with complicated coiffures, elaborate clothes and jewellery, tall men with slim waists and broad shoulders as well as slim and supple. There also have been found many jewellery, pottery and religious items which are valuable heritage of the Minoan Civilization and which are on display in the Archaeological Museum in Heraclio. The Minoan Civilization abruptly came to an end around 1450BC. According to some scientists the new destruction of the palaces was also caused by an eruption of the volcano in Santorini but this time it was more destructive than ever. However, there are archaeologists who support that the civilization was not destroyed by any natural phenomena but by the Mycenaean invasion who found their colony on Crete in about 1400 BC.

Vacation and holiday activities

For those who want something different or more action for their holiday we have the following suggestions:

  • -Scuba Diving: Dives and courses that are especially designed for different levels (from experienced divers to beginners). The dives take place in the fascinating blue crystal waters of the Cretan or Livikon Pelagos.
  • -Water Ski
  • -Canoeing
  • -Snorkeling
  • -Day tours on islands by tourist boat
  • -Sailing

 

Walking trips

Crete is probably the best place for those who want to combine the mountain and the sea. Surrounded by many kilometers of coasts with magnificent beaches, with mountains that are above 2500m high and gorges with unique flora, fauna and beauty. We recommend that you visit some of these superb places even during the summer. Owing to the great depth and their vegetation the gorges are cool and shadowy so their crossing becomes pleasant. Here are some of the gorges which are worth to visit: Samaria Gorge*(17km or about 6h walking), Imbros*(9km or 2.30h walking) and Aradena(7km or 2.30h walking). Generally, gorges can be crossed throughout the year with the exception of the period of rainfalls (winter- early spring).

Samaria gorge is close for the public from the end of October because in case of heavy rainfall the water can make it inaccessible and dangerous. To get more information you should contact a specialized travel agency that organizes outdoor activities on Crete. For more demanding walkers or climbers there are many E4 trekking paths as well as mountain peaks like Psilafi and Gigilos. However, in the summer we suggest that you start your trekking or climbing before dawn in order to avoid extreme heat. The ideal season for climbing is from 15th of April until 10th of June & 1st of September until the end of November when the first rainfall and snowfall begin because then you will need special winter equipment as well as technical knowledge. It is advisable that you participate in a well-organized, small group or hire a local guide who will cater for your safety and provide adequate information. If you are interested in participating in a walking or trekking trip during your holiday let us know the places that you wish to go to as soon as possible, so that we can find a qualified guide for you or a particular group which you could join.

Cultural festivals in Chania

Each year the municipality of Chania holds cultural festivals especially during the summer from June until September (Cultural Summer). For more details on the daily program of the festivities you can visit the municipality’s website :www.chania.gr

 Cultural Events

March: Carnival festivities in Chania, Souda, Kalyves, Paleohora, Vatolako. May: celebration of the battle of Crete, which is held in the second fortnight of May. “Koresia” -Athletic Games of Canoe-Kayak at Kournas lake. Beginning of the summer: “Venizelia” – National track events which take place at the National Stadium of Chania.

May- September: Athletic Events in Nea Kydonia. The Events include Beach Volley, Beach Soccer, Beach Handball and racket games. July-August-September: “Cultural Summer” Events – music and theatre performances which take place at the theatre of Eastern Trench, the Public Garden, in Venizelio Music School or at the Peace and Friendship Park. Other cultural events are held by the municipalities of Kissamos, Nea Kydonia, Pelekanos, Georgioupolis and other places of the prefecture. June: Cherry Festivity at Karanou. 24th June: St Ioannis Klidonas Festivity at Fres, Akrotiri, Perivolia, Therisso, Vamvakopoulo and other villages around Chania. 21st-28th July: “Elafonisia” held by the Municipality of Inahorio. The festivities include memorial service at the monument of Elafonisi, athletic games, theatre performance, and traditional treat. 26th July: Pilgrimage excursion from the port of Kissamos to Balos and the island of Gramvousa. 30th-31st July: Wine festival at Vouves. July: Celebration of the “Naval Week” at the Old Harbour. 1st-10th August: “Agricultural August” : Exhibition of agricultural products at Neoria. 20th August: Honey Festival at Afrata. September: Sardine Festival at Nea Hora and Souda. End of October or beginning of November: Chestnut festival at Prases and Elos. November: Tsikoudia (local drink) Festival at Neoria, Loutraki Kydonias, Kandanos and Platanias. 31st December – 1st January: Celebration of the New Year at the Market Square in Chania.

Useful Information

 Museums
Archaeological Museum: Chania, 25 Chalidon Str. Tel: 2821090334

Folklore Museum: Chania, 46B Chalidon Str Tel: 2821090816

Folklore Museum: Gavalohori/ Apokoronas Tel: 2825023222

Naval Museum: Akti Kountourioti, Old Harbor Tel: 2821091875, 2821074484

War Museum: Chania, Tzobanaki quarters Tel: 2821044156

Ecclesiastic Museums: Gouverneto Monastery Tel: 2821063319 Chrissopigi Monastery Tel: 2821091125 Monastery of St Trinity Tel: 2821063319 Monastery of Gonia Tel: 2824022313

Chemistry Museum: Chania, 34A Eleftherios Venizelos Str. Tel: 2821042504

History and Folklore Museum: Spilia, Kissamos Tel: 2824022080

Byzantine Collection: Chania, Theotokopoulou Str. Tel: 2821096046

Historical Archives: Chania, 20 Sfakianaki Str. Tel:2821052606

 

 Other Sights Eleftherios Venizelos Residence: Chania, Halepa Tel:2821056008
Neoria: Old Harbour Tel: 2821087098

Public Art Gallery: Chania, Chalidon Str. Tel: 2821092294

Kioutsouk Hasan Mosque: Old Harbour Tel: 2821087098

Public Library: Chania, Town Hall Tel: 2821092000

Public Cinema: Chania, Public Garden (Kipos) Tel: 2821056450

 

Famous Cretan people who produced significant works of art (literature, paintings, music)

Νame
Date & Place of birth
Some works…
Dominikos Theotokopoulos (El Greco)
Painter
1541-1614 The Knight with His Hand on His Breast, The Holy Trinity, The opening of the Fifth Seal of the Apocalypse…
Nikos Kazantzakis
writer
1883-1957 Heraclio, Crete Report to Greco, Askitiki (1927), Odyssey(1929 – 1938), Zorba the Greek (1946),Captain Michael, The Last Temptation (1951), God’s Pauper (1953), Christ Recrucified (1948), The Last Temptation (1951), Travels (1927 – 1941)
Nikos Xilouris
Singer
7/7/1936 Anogia, Crete Pote tha kani ksasteria, Agrimia & agrimakia mou, Filetem
Kostas Mountakis
Instructor of Cretan folk music, composer of folk music, singer and lira player
10/2/1926 Alfa Milopotamos, Crete Kserosteriano Sirto,Korfiano sirto,O digenis psihomaxi,Aito.