Doors of Chania Old Town

The Venetian walls of Chania, Crete, once enclosed the old town. Now only the East and West bastions remain on either side of the harbour with crumbling walls between. Many of these walls can be found with niches, bricked up arches and other architectural elements exposed. Numerous Venetian ship sheds and storerooms still line the harbour on the East end.

On this East side of the old town, constructed on the walls, were houses. Now many of them are simply cross-sections of demolished houses – in stasis, waiting to be developed. This one below is quite spectacular showing interior doors hanging in the air and a cupboard open to the elements.

At an observation point on the East bastion is a building that was once an elegant old hotel.

It’s door announces that is is occupied by the Black Rose (Rosa Nera), an anarchist group said to be opposed to the commercialisation of the city by corrupt officials and corporate bodies.

On the West side, beyond the Ottoman mosque on the harbour, narrow winding streets house those commercial elements – shops, hotels, cafes – occupying restored buildings. Ottoman elements can be found here. Below, a structure that was perhaps once part of a water fountain.

Many interesting doors in various states of decay and graffiti cover are found in this area. Most probably date to the late 19th or early 20th century.

The old door knocker from the door above is very much like the one we have – it goes with us from house to house. It was probably made in the same place we got ours back in the 1980s. The old hamam near the archaeological museum used to be a brass foundry, but unfortunately, it now has been converted to shops selling tourist paraphernalia.

A selection of different styles of doors:

The Northwest quadrant was once the Jewish quarter of the city. In this area is a 15th century building, once a Byzantine church, but converted in the 19th century to a synagogue. It has been sensitively restored and currently serves as a place of worship for Chania’s small Jewish community.

The old door now hangs as a decorative element in the courtyard, replaced by a modern door in a similar style. The old photograph shows the building and entrance door prior to restoration.

Over the door into the sanctum is a marble lintel carved with a Hebrew inscription.

Layers of history are mapped out in the architecture and doors of the old town of Chania – from Venetian walls to the 21st century anarchists.

Check out Norm’s Thursday Doors for many more posts on fascinating buildings and their doors.


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