The district of Kasteli in Chania old town, is located on the hill south from the harbour.
This is the original settlement of which have been come the so far archaeological discoveries proving that Chania's history starts around 3650-3000 BC, the late Neolithic Times.
Greek-Swedish excavation site
at the square of St. Cathrin,
on Kanevaro street, which brought to light an entire floor plan
of a house dated to the Minoan Times, parts of other three
houses, as well as narrow roads and a small square.
Cydonia was named the third largest Minoan city founded, by
King Minos of Crete, in the current location of the city of
Learn more about
Except of the fact that Kasteli hill was always a natural
fortress, it has been fortified by walls that surrounded the
citadel from the very Hellenistic Times. This is evidenced by
the remains of the Hellenistic walls (3rd century BC) found
beneath the wall remains, which are dated to the Byzantine
Times. A part of the wall is visible from the seaside.
Continue your walk on the Karaoli & Dimitriou street to see a large part of the Byzantine walls along the street, which has been built using construction materials belonging to the ancient Kydonia.
The Byzantine wall has been built during the Second Byzantine period (961-1204 A.D.) of the empire, in an effort to consolidate its dominance in Crete, since negligence and omission of Byzantium during the First Byzantine period, had brought the island into the hands of Saracen Arabs pirates (824-961 AD) and Kydonia in the absolute decay.
The Byzantine wall is the only archaeological evidence for the
existence of the city between the period of Arab rule and the
subsequent period of the Venetian occupation.
Since the Fourth Crusade (1201-1204 AD), the areas of the former Byzantine Empire, partitioned, and Crete is given by the Crusaders to the hands of the Serene Republic of Venice, which played a key role in that operation.
The initial negligence of the Venetians for Crete, gives cause to the Maltese pirate Enrico Pescatore to occupy a large part of the island for eight years, until Venice manages to expel the Genoese who delivers the city of Chania on fire.
When the Venetians consolidate their rule in 1952, the city and the county of Chania shared to 90 Cavalries and given to settlers from Venice with the explicit obligation to rebuild the city.
The reconstruction of the city based on the Venetian architecture starts on the hill of Kasteli, which in the early years of the rule would constitute the core of the city, surrounded by the existed Byzantine walls, which were repaired.
As the city's plans show...
The main street of Kasteli, which is Kanevaro Street 1 (The Venetian Corso), that runs through the hill from its western walls to its eastern walls, is being opened, and along the street the public constructions of the city are being built.
At the northern side of the city are being built stairs 2 that connect the hill of Kastelli with the harbour.
At the center of the city, the great Cathedral church (Duomo) dedicated to Virgin Mary, is being erected on the foundations of an early Christian Basilica, and to the rest of the hill are being built houses for the residents as well as Venetian mansions for the highest rulers, such as the Rector's Palazzo (the mansion housed the Venetian Governor of the city). Part of the Rector's palace is preserved at the end of the Lithinon Street 3 , altered by the subsequent Turkish occupation.
Later, the continued prosperity of the second city of the Venetian "Kingdom of Crete" will gradually lead to its expansion outside the confines of the Byzantine walls, that is no longer in use, up to the limits of the current Chania old town, and Kasteli will be one of the main districts of the city.
During the Ottoman rule, the prominent Turks live in Kasteli. The Venetian Cathedral of Virgin Mary converted into a mosque, as was done in many other buildings of the city, that adapted to serve the needs and habits of the new conqueror, while brand new ones were built. One of the three Turkish public baths (Hamam) of Chania old town is preserved in the district of kasteli, on Katre Street 4 .
By the end of the Greek revolution of 1821 against the Ottoman Turks, it mediates the concession of Crete by the Turks to Egyptians until the 1841, when power returns to the Turks.
In 1850, during the second period of the Ottoman rule, the
headquarters of the Turkish Governor of Crete, is installed in
Chania, at the northern end of the kasteli hill, in a government
complex building called "The Konaki," that housed the home of
Pasha, prisons, as well as living space for the guards. Of them,
the prison building 5 is preserved, which is partly erected on the walls of the
northern edge of the hill, while the wooden house of the Pasha
was burned in 1897.
In 1898, the "Great Powers" of that time, decide the
international occupation of the island. In kasteli, right
next to the Turkish prisons and at a position with a beautiful
panoramic view to the harbour and Chania old town, is erected a neoclassical
architecture building 6 ,
that housed the headquarters of the Great Powers. Today it
houses the offices of the rectorate of the Technical University
In 1941, during the world war II, the Kasteli hill was heavily bombarded by the Nazi aircraft, and as a result several of its monuments destroyed.
Indicatively, the great Venetian Cathedral of Virgin Mary which later turned into a mosque of Mousa Pasha, was totally destroyed. Moreover, the destruction is evidenced in the complex of the Monastery of our Lady of Miracles 7 , built by the Venetians in the late of the 16th century.