(2) Nearby Kastelli hill is the oldest district in Hania, an ancient acropolis fortified (as we see it today) in the 10th century CE which has been continuously inhabited since the Minoan period and for which we have Minoan archaeological evidence all over this part of town. Over the centuries, Kastelli was the city's administrative and commercial center and comprised its wealthy neighborhoods. As such, it was a treasure of Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman architecture and artifacts until WW II. In May 1941, German bombing flattened this part of the city prior to “Operation Mercury”, a bombing campaign undertaken without any discernible strategic objective. As a result, much of Kastelli today features rather indistinct residential buildings dating to the 1950s and 1960s.
The ongoing Greek-Swedish excavations on Kanevaro Street have revealed the largest visible section of the Minoan city of Kydonia. This endeavor was initially only made possible following the bombing of the Dominican Catholic church, Santa Maria, in May 1941, that was reduced to rubble. Once the debris was cleared, some Minoan city foundations were exposed.
At the end of Agiou Markou Street, you will be standing in an open space that used to be the interior of another Venetian church, Santa Maria dei Miracoli, built in 1615 as part of a convent for Dominican nuns. Some of the facade and parts of the cloister are still visible.
(V) On your way to the neighborhood of Splantzia, you will pass our DOCUMENTATION CENTER IMPACT OF THE GERMAN OCCUPATION ON CRETE / vivliomania Hania International Youth Library on 75 Sifaka Street.
Images from Kastelli hill prior to the bombing in 1941
The DOCUMENTATION CENTER IMPACT OF THE GERMAN OCCUPATION ON CRETE would like to thank Manolis Manoussakas for his support, the access to his personal archives as well as his permission to publish the images on our website.
Ruins of Santa Maria Church
after the bombing in 1941
The interior of Santa Maria Church as a mosque in 1906