The District of Topanas
in Chania Old Town

The City of Chania during the Venetian Rule 

During the first period of the Venetian rule in Chania, the uprising of the local population against the oppression of the conqueror was a frequent phenomenon, so the city of Chania was restricted to the fortified hill of Kasteli.

Nearly 200 years since the colonization of the Venetians in Crete, the long coexistence of the two peoples and the close relationship between one of the easternmost colonies of Venice with the Serenissima Republic, create the appropriate conditions for the long-term prosperity of the city which extends beyond the confines of the walled town.

The new layout of the city is being designed, and mansions being built according to the contemporary stream of the Mannerist architecture, as well as other structures, churches and monasteries. 

That was the time when the district of Topanas is being built at the western side of the city of Chania.

Moreover, because of the elongation of the Ottoman Turks in the area of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, Venice judges the necessity of a fortification construction plan that would include the cities of Crete as well as other strategically places of the island. So, the city of Chania is being fortified within its new walls supported by bastions and a moat perimeter. 

Eventually, the fortification of the city failed to face the attack, and the city of Chania falls into the hands of the Turks in 1645. 

Picture above: The western walls and moat are a large part of the fortification which is preserved today's and forms the limits of Chania old town.

The District of Topanas during the Ottoman Rule

Since the city of Chania conquested by the Ottoman Turks, Christians gathered on the district of Topanas, while Turks settled on the eastern part of the city, in the districts of Kasteli and Splantzia

Turks were calling the western quarter, where Christian lived, as "Tophane" which in Turkish means "Arsenal," because of the existence of the Venetian ammunition warehouse, which is still preserved at the end of Theotokopoulou street. Since then, that naming has remained in the district of Topanas (or Tophanas).

During the Ottoman domination, several buildings of the town were used to serve the needs of the new conqueror according to the standards of the Turkish architecture. 

The fortress of Firkas that was built by the Venetians at the north end of Topanas, right next to the entrance of the harbor of Chania, is converted into barracks, while later in the 19th century it is used as a prison. 

The City of Chania during the Semi-Autonomy of Crete

The end of the late Turkish occupation in Crete (1841-1898), comes when the "Great Protective Powers" of that time, that have always been interested in Crete, decide the creation of the "Autonomous Cretan State," under their patronage. 

In the prestigious district of Topanas installed the consulates of European countries, until later moved outside the limits of the walled city, in the district of Chalepa, which already had begun to grow since the mid-19th century. 

Today's, many of these historical buildings with Venetian, Turkish or European architecture, are operating either as hotels or as shops, cafes and restaurants. 

You'll discover them on the streets and alleys of Topanas.

The Streets and Alleys of Topanas

Topanas is perhaps the most beautiful quarter in Chania old town. Do not miss to take a stroll through its labyrinthine streets and alleys. 

Theotokopoulou street   1   is the main street which runs through the district of Topanas from the north to the south. At the northeast end of Theotokopoulou street lies the Venetian church of the San Salvatore's monastery, which houses the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Collection of Chania. Walking towards south, on the west side of the street, you'll see the ammunition warehouse of which the naming of Topanas comes from, and across the street, there is a typical example of a Turkish architecture building. 

Angelou street   2   leads to the waterfront of Kountourioti Coast, in front of the entrance of Firka fortress and the Maritime Museum of Crete. Along the street, you'll see some typical examples of the Venetian architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries, as well to the other alleys noticed on the map, byway the Theotokopoulou street. All are very picturesque.

Within Theofanous street   3  , lies the luxurious Casa Delfino hotel, a 17th-century Venetian mansion, and within Moschon street   4  , lies the gate, the mansion and the chapel of the noble Venetian family of Renieri. 

Furthermore, Zambeliou street   5  , which joins with Theotokopoulou, Theofanous and Moschon streets, is also a must follow. It streches from the west end of Topanas to the Jewish quarter, until it reaches the Sintrivani square.

At the intersection of Zampeliou street with Douka street   6  , lies one of the three Turkish baths (Hamam) which are preserved in the old town of Chania. A part of it is being used as a restaurant. 

Portou street   7   will let you walk along the old Venetian walls, until it turns to the east and enters the Jewish quarter. 

Finally, do not miss the Skoufon street   8   which extends between Portou and Zampeliou streets. 

› Topanas District