Friday, April 13, 2007

Archaeological walk in Chania

The medieval town of Hania was given its final character by the Venetian conquerors in 1252, and was preserved after the seizure of Hania by the Turks in 1669.
Alter the , where it was mentioned that the Venetian colonists had the obligation to rebuild the town, they completed and repaired the already existing wall of Kasteli and in its interior they created the first core of the town based on Western building models. They marked out the official road, Corso, (today's Kanevaro Street), that crossed Kasteli from east to west, dividing it into two parts. They built the Cathedral (Duomo) of Santa Maria dei Miracoli, the palace of the Rector and the mansions of the Venetian feudalists. Across Corso they marked out other smaller roads parallel to each other, where they build their houses. The walls of Kasteli had four gates. The two central ones, on the western and eastern edge of Corso, were totally destroyed by bombing during the Second World War (1941). As for the two other smaller gates, one of them was on the southern part where Katre street is today and the other one on the northern part where there are the steps next to the building that houses the Polytechnic of Crete. With the development of commerce and navigation the town spreads out beyond the walls of Kasteli.

For security reasons the construction of wider walls is decided; it began in 1538 by the architect Michele Sammichelli. With the new walls, that were constructed in order to encompass the wider town, the walls of Kasteli became completely redundant and, as result of this, its towers were turned into dwellings, whilst on its middle towers the foundations of a great other dwellings were laid. What is more, its external part was covered in a great part by other buildings, something that today obstructs us from seeing the form of the inner wall in all its perimeter. The new walls were given a square shape and each one of its four corners were fortified by a bastion (baloardo); on the northwestern corner the San Salvatore or Gritti bastion was built, on the southwestern corner the bastion of San Dimitri or Sciavo, on the northeastern corner the bastion of Sabbionara or Mocenigo. The bastions of Sabbionara (on the southern part) or Santa Lucia (on the western) and San Dimitri (on the eastern part) were fortified from the outside with parotids (orrechioni). In the middle of the southern part (left as one enters the Municipal Market) a platform was constructed and was named the bastion Retimiota or de San Giovanni or della Misericordia. In its interior, on the East and West, two low squares were formed.

Towards the interior of the bastion, as much as towards other parts of the middle towers, 8 small bastions of large (cavalier) or small (cavalierotti) shape were placed. The wall had three gates: the Rethimnon gate (porta Retimiota) on the southern middle tower, west of the platform, the gate Sabbionara (the gate of sand in Nikiforos Fokas Street) on the eastern middle tower, and the auxiliary gate of San Salvatore (entrance from Theotokopoulos Street), that opened on to the corresponding bastion. Externally, on the periphery of the walls, a trench was dug and a resistance counterwall was constructed (contrascarpa) in order to hold the soil together. Only in the bastion of Sabbionara there was no trench, as it went as far as the sea. After the Venetians were defeated by the Turks, in 1645, the cracks that were caused during the siege were repaired. The cracks had been made in the bastion of San Dimitri and in the gate of Sabbionara through which the Turks entered the town. This gate was reconstructed, its dimensions were changed and it was named Koum Kapi.

The Rethymniotiki gate was also repaired and was named Kale-Kapissi. What finally determined the decision of the Venetians to build the port of Hania was the capture of the town by the Venetian navy in 1293. This construction went through various stages, it lasted approximately 300 years, and consisted of the deepening of the gulf, of the breakwater, the Lighthouse and the strong guardhouses in the arm of the Lighthouse. The increasing Turkish threat had as a consequence the reinforcement of the Venetian navy and construction of shipyards (they began their building in 1526 and took their final form in 1599) for the maintainance of the section of the navy that remained in the harbour of Hania. The northern part of the shipyards was open to the sea, whilst the southern part was closed and had a small door, two rectangular windows and a rotund one. They communicated between them with archways. On the south, the communication of the town with the area of the shipyards was a Venetian gateway that was destroyed in the middle of our century. During the Turkish occupation they were neglected and started to decay.

Out of the 17 shipyards today only 7 are actually standing, that, with various additions (the closing of the northern part, adapted mid walls) were adapted to contemporary uses. Beginning our stroll from the northwestern part of the harbour we come to the fortress Firka. The area was used as residence of the Venetian as well as for barracks. During the Turkish occupation, it operated as barracks and prisons. On the 1st of December 1913, the Greek flag was raised in celebration of the unification of Crete with Greece. Up to the civil war it had been used as a prison. Going up Angelou Street we come across big Venetian buildings (about that we don't have sufficient information).

At the beginning of Theotokopoulou Street the temple of San Salvatore is still erect. It is the monastery of Franciscans monks in the homonymous western bastion. The arrangement of the monastery follows the western models with the square courtyard of the cells and the passage way on the southern part of the church. The temple is small in size with a sharp perpendicular vault and two adjacent chapels with crossvaults on the northwestern side. The altar of the temple with a large arch occupies the eastern part. From the wing of the cells the eastern part is preserved with quite a few subsequent added parts and probably the western part is too. Continuing along Theotokopoulou Street we can see a lot of Venetian mansions with typical Oriental configurations from the times of the Turkish occupation (wooden balconies, latticed windows).

The neighbourhood today is called Tophanas. This name has prevailed since the times of the Turkish domination, because the Turks kept their cannons there. In the late years of the Turkish domination, the prosperous Christians families lived in Tophana. The Consulates of the Great Powers were also there. It had been the neighbourhood of Christian aristocrats and therefor inaccessible to the Turks. Following the way towards the east in Zambeliou Street, we see everywhere along the road houses with characteristic Venetian fronts. From these facades there have been left a few features of the superb Venetian gateway. More characteristic examples are the mansion of Renier with very few features left while the gateway, which bcart the mansion, date 1608 and the inscription (namely the sweet father had done a lot and studied. He had sweated and suffered, let perpetual respite give him joy), has survived.

Also inside the gate the private chapel of Renier survives almost intact. This temple is of Latin typology, The original temple must have been of the 15th century with the altar turned northwards, the entrance westwards and the window eastwards. During the alterations that were made in the 17th century, on the northern part the altar was abolished and the entrance was created with some intervention on the southern part for the construction of a new altar. The building is small in size, but it has very beautiful decorative architectural features, like embossed mouldings on the semicylindrical vault of purely decorative character. Another characteristic front is that of a Venetian mansion with an invalled inscription mention (i.e., no one is poor when his soul is big). The same inscription is decorated with illegible insignia.

In Zambeliou and Skoufon Street there used to be a church of St John Theologos. In the days of the Turkish occupation it was converted into a mosque. Today there is only a fountain. Also in Zambeliou and Portou Street there is a Turkish haman. In the small streets behind Zambeliou Street the area is called Jewish, because Jews used to live there since the period of the Venetians. The Venetians had taken strong measures against the ]ews who were obliged to live only in a neighbourhood especially for them. The central road is today's Kondylaki Street and here there are houses of famous Jews. In the place of todays tavern <> there used to be a Synagogue that has lately been destroyed by fire. The front and the big internal walls are still up.

In Zambeliou and Halidon Street there is a two storey building with a row of three arrows, that is considered as the Venetian Loggia. The same building has been used as a military hospital by the Turks, as an admirality of the Foreign League during the period of the Cretan State, and later as the Town Hall. An inscription in Arabic letters can be seen. In Halidon Street, where today is the archaeological museum, there is a monastery built by Franciscan monks. It consists of the temple and two adjacent courtyards with all the four sides closes on the south of the church. On the northern side there was a penwall that surrounded the gardens of the monastery. The whole complex was sufficiently big 60 metres E.W. and 90 metres N.W. approximately. It is not yet known when the building of the monastery began, as there is no written evidence of the building; a section of the temple however has strong gothic influences of temple – construction, a fact that probably places it in the 14th century, while in 1595 the church and the belltower were completed, as we know from the description of doctor Onorio Belli in a letter he sent to Signer Alfonso Ragona in Venice after the big earthquake of 1596.

The church constists of a central temple, to the east are the chapels of the chorus, while on the west today's passage way constitutes modification of the original building in the years of the Turkish dominion. On the N.E. corner is the belltower, that has an independent entrance. The main temple is divided into three aisles. The middle one is raised oblong, whilst the northern and the southern ones have a semicylindrical roof. On the northern part of the main temple three chapels have been annexed, sheltered each by a quarter of sphere. From the cells survives the external eastern part that looks on Halidon Street -there is a row of shops today- quite altered however, owing to the subsequent interventions. On the southern part of the cells, there is a section of a building that can be identified as the dining-room of the monastery. During the time of Turkish dominion, it was converted into the mosque of T Yousouf Pasha. Only the balcony, on the northern side with the half-destroyed minaret, can be seen today. Opposite St Franciscus, it is said there used to be the convent of Santa Ciara with Franciscan nunns. Today it is all extinct. Opposite St Franciscus a Turkish hamam survives; today's steeple foundry also, barely a few metres to the south, is the Cathedral of Hania, Trimartiri, or the church of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary.

It was built in an area where used to be the soap factory of Mustapha Nily Pasha, that in its turn was built on the ruins of an ancient edifice. When Mustapha Nily Pasha became Prime minister of the Ottoman Empire, he donated his soap factory and another 100.000 curus for the erection of the church to the Christian community of Hania. And the son of Mustapha Pasha, Velis, who was the governor of Crete at the time, offered 30.000 curus. Many offers were also made by the Christian locals. It was inaugurated in 1857. It had three aisles consecrated to St Nicholas (the northern), to the Presentation of Virgin Mary (the central) and to three Hierarchs (the southern). During the firing of the Cristian neighborhood of Hania by the Turks in 1897, damages were caused also to the Trimartiri, the repair of which was made with the Tsar's money who also donated the church bell. By the sea, at the port, we can see the temple of Hassan Pasha with typical morphology of temples, with one big central dome and four smaller ones. On the southeastern corner there is the foundation of a minaret and in the interior, on the southeastern part, the Mihrarb (the holy stand).

The mansions of the Venetian relatives and the palace of the Rector were on the hill of Kasteli. At the end of Lithino Street, a complex of buildings under the name is identified as the palace of the Rector. Here we can see an ornamented gateway of renaissance style, leading to an internal courtyard surrounded by the buildings. Documents, from various eras of the Venetian Council as well as of the Rector of Hania, refer to the state of this building and the repairs that were made to it. The sole remnant of the <> complex is the internal courtyard, while we don't know if the gate of 1624, that, is quoted in the archives of the town, had been transferred from elsewhere. The Palazzo of the Venetian Rectors had been used also as the residence of the Pasha of Hania. On the Corso of Castelli (Kanevaro Street) used to be the Premarin mansion; this, according to an inscription, was built in 1598 by the architect Manoli Litina from Rethymno and always according to the inscription it was (an ornament of the town). On the same street we can see the mansion of Zangarol with a gate of renaissance artistry, and on the opposite side the mansion of Molin, that had images of warriors on its gate heads and in the middle the coat of arms of Molin.

The mansions, like other Venetian houses, were totally destroyed by the bombing in the Second World War (1941). On the hill of Castelli in St Mark's Street, survives a section of the monastery of Santa Maria de Miracoli. It was a convent of the battalion of the Domenicans. It was founded in 1615. The typology of the monastery follows the familiar Western prototypes. On the south of the church is the closed courtyard with the passage, while the belltower that used to be on the southeastern part of the church has not survived. The greatest part of the church has been destroyed, and only the southern wall remains with the embossed mouldings for the perprendicular vault and the blind archings, whilst from the rest of the complex part of the courtyard the cells and the passage way can be seen. On the steps north of the monastery is the big arsenal. It's a shipyard to which a second floor was later added and was used as Town Hall of Hania. The relics of the Minoan town are also on the same hill. Ruins of buildings are found in Katre Street and in Kanevaro Street. The most outstanding complex of houses has been dug up on the square of St Catherine during the Greek-Swedish excavations.

A big building of the post-minoan period has been discovered. It has many chambers, an open paved courtyard, a hearth and a storeroom, where a great number of pots and jars were found, as well as monumental entrances that look out on to small streets. Approximately 100 clay tablets of Linear B Scripture have been found; something that probably suggest the possible existence of a palace. On a site in Katre Street, an archive of tablets of Linear A Scripture has been found. In Katre Street there is also the Turkish hamam. Continuing eastwards we reach the neighbourhood of Splatzia. There was the Turkish quarter. The lanes and a few of the houses are still there. In Daskaloyanni Street is the Catholic church consecrated to St Rocco, protector of the town from the plague. The Latin inscriptions on die facade show the date 1630. It is a single-aisled church with a chapel on the north, without an altar arch. Built with strong influences from the Italian renaissance it represents a typical example of correct proportions and plain form.

A few metres southwards is the square of Splantzia. Here is the monastery of St. Nicholas, a possession of Dominician monks, that must have been built before 1320. The cells of the monastery, arranged in accordance with Western models, were on the nothern part, forming two closed courtyards adjacent to each other, with the passage way on the groundfloor and the cells on the upper floor. From this complex today only the one side of the western courtyards survive. The eastern part has been altered by subsequent additions. The church is divided into three parts: a) the vestibule with the entrance gate of characteristic gothic type, b) the threeaisled main temple that has been renovated and c) the altar with its right and left parts quite well preserved. The original bell-tower of the monastery, was standing on the northeastern side of the church. Today not even its base exists; it has been replaced by a contemporary one on a different spot.

Firstly, the church of St Nicolas was converted into a temple of Ibrahim or Houghar (of the Monarch). From its usage as temple it is left the minaret on the southwestern part and the imprint of the emblem of the Sultan on the entrance survive. Here the sword of the conqueror was kept in a red wollen sheath and Imamis held it each Friday when he read the Koran. Today it is kept in the Orthodox church of St Nicholas. On Splantzia square there was a Turkish fountain that during the Turkish dominatin, was a recreation ground for the Turkish population. South of St Nicholas is the two aisled vaulted Orthodox church of St Catherine (characteristic renaissance architecture). Until recently it has been used as bakery. In the neighbourhood of Splantzia, on Rougha square, in Kallinikou Sarpaki Street is the Orthodox single-aisled church of St Irene, that has been recently discovered. In Hatjimichali Daliani Street is the temple of Ahmet Agha. It is single-aished vaulted edivice, with a minaret on the northwestern corner and the southeastern corner. South of Splantzia neighbourhood, is the neighbourhood of St Anarghiri, where there is the homonymous Orthodox two aisled church. It is also consecrated to St Savas. It was a parish church, owned by the brothers, also priests Manolis and Damianos Fassoulas from a middle-class family registered in the Venetian catalogues of 1644. It functioned as the Metropolis until the erection of StTrimartiri. (Is situated in Jacob Koumi Street).

Going on towards the port from Daskaloyianni Street, we see in Archoleon Street the Venetian shipyards. After that, we come northeast of the town to the bastion Sabionara. On the walls we see the Lion of St Mark, emblem of the Venetians. Then, we come out of the walls to the neighbourhood Koum-Kapi. The Beduins who came to Crete during the Egyptian occupation (1831-1840) used to live there. Most of them however came in 1884. After the treaty of Halepas, (it started on the 28th August 1878 and expired on the 3rd October 1878) order and peace reigned on Crete. Thus commerce and agriculture developed, and for that human labour was needed. Then the General Administration of Hania brought a lot of Beduin families from Vengazi. They lived in the area Koum Kapi outside the walls in huts. The people called them Halicutides, mostly because of the characteristic sound of their speech. After Koum-Kapi there are the new neighborhoods of Hania, built on beautiful town-planning designs.