Saturday, 28 May 2011

Chania, Crete, Greece

I received this beautiful card via the official postcrossing site earlier this year. It's always nice to receive officials from Greece, and this one is no exception. I didn't actually realise it's a lighthouse on the card when I first looked at it, I just thought it was some kind of tower.. ooops. But it's definitely a lighthouse :)


Chania is the second largest city of Crete and the capital of the Chania peripheral unit. It lies along the north coast of the island, about 70 km west of Rethymno and 145 km west of Heraklion. The official population of the municipal unit (the former municipality) is 55,838 but the greater urban area is 81,985. The urban area consists of the city of Chania along with 7 towns and villages.

The city of Chania can be divided in two parts: the old town and the modern city which is the larger one. The old town is situated next to the old harbour and is the matrix around which the whole urban area was developed. It used to be surrounded by the old Venetian fortifications that started to be built in 1538; of them the eastern and western parts have survived. From the south, the old town is continuous with the new, and from the north the physical border is the sea. The centre of the modern city is the area extending next to the old town and especially towards the south.

Despite being heavily bombed during World War II, Chania's Old Town is considered the most beautiful urban district on Crete, especially the crumbling Venetian harbour. The borders of the Old Town are the mostly destroyed old Venetian wall (and bulwarks) and this has been the cradle of all the civilizations which were developed in the area. The central part of the old town is named Kasteli and has been inhabited since Neolithic times. It is located on a small hill right next to the seafront and has always been the ideal place for a settlement due to its secure position, its location next to the harbour and its proximity to the fertile valley in the south. Nowadays it is a bit more quiet than the neighbouring areas of the west part of the district. The Splantzia quarter (next to the east part of Kasteli) is also largely untouched and very atmospheric.

A very distinctive area of the Old Town is the harbour itself and generally the seafront ("akti"). Akti Tompazi, Akti Kountouriotou and Akti Enoseos (marina) all feature several historical buildings and a thriving nightlife. The main street that combines the modern town with the old town is Halidon Str. The lighthouse on this postcard is located at the mouth of the Venetian port and it's said to be one of the oldest lighthouses in the Mediterranean.

The stamp on the left is from a set of 5 stamps issued in 2010, with the theme 'New Acropolis Museum'. The stamp on the right is from a set of 5 stamps issued earlier this year, depicting 20th Century Art.

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