Turning back time, to the era of Venetian and Ottoman rule we find that the city of Chania had developed trade and shipping. Because of the city’s geographical location and prevailing weather conditions, it created the need for the Venetian harbour.
The Venetian Lighthouse of Chania is built on a natural water breaker rock. Initially it worked as an open flame torch while the architectural elements are attached to Cretan tradition and was shaped by the late Venetian period onwards, and since it has taken the form we see now.
It resembles more of a minaret, either internally or externally, as an internal staircase leads onto the balcony with the glass tower. For this reason, the experts cannot group the architecture with one of the standard beacons. Therefore, it neither has residence for the guards because of the fact that it is part of a residential area.
The height of the lighthouse reaches 21 meters while the light illuminates up to a distance of seven miles. It is a jewel of the city of Chania and trademark for all the travellers of the island.
On the northwestern edge of the Venetian Port of Chania is the Firka fortress, built to protect the harbour entrance. In the fort, was the headquarters of the military commander of the city. Internally there were barracks and war materials warehouses.
The west wing buildings are constructed on two floors and in the center of the courtyard there is a large tank that collects the water from the roofs. During the Turkish occupation, the Firkas Fortress was used as barracks and as a prison and in our time. It is honored with the anniversary of December 1st, the date of union of Crete with Greece in 1913, a celebration and ceremony by displaying the Greek flag.
At the entrance of the Fortress of Firkas there is the Naval Museum of Crete. It was created in 1973, with the aim to preserve the marine’s wealth and traditions of the island and also to boost its naval history.
The exhibition of the Maritime Museum of Crete includes over 2500 exhibits among them relics, paintings, objects found on the seabed, maps etc.
Important development of the Museum is the creation of a permanent exhibition of Ancient and Traditional Shipbuilding, with main exhibit the copy of an ancient merchant ship from the Minoan period.
Inside the Old Port of Chania, at the end of the 17 shipyards and towards the west there is a magnificent building, the Grand Arsenal.
Its construction started about 1585 by the General Provisioner Alvise Grimani, however the Grand Arsenal has changed occasionally having specific features which justify the name “Grand”.
In approximately 1872, during the Turkish occupation began a new era for the Great Arsenal.
At its gates was housed the Christian Community School and at times it has hosted theater performances, it has also been used as a public hospital as well as City Hall.
Today it has been renovated completely and turned into a stunning space for events and exhibitions. It hosts major events with an emphasis on architecture.