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The new Archaeological Museum of Chania is the latest gem that piques the curious travellers’ minds, consolidating the city’s position among the world’s top cultural destinations
There are many great reasons to visit Chania: A heady cocktail of past and present, Crete’s former capital, has a long, turbulent and deeply captivating history packed with mysteries and drama. This is reflected in the city’s one-of-a-kind architectural legacy which fuses Venetian, Byzantine, Ottoman and Jewish influences, into a mix that’s jaw-dropping. Indeed, Chania boasts some of the Meditteranean’s most instagrammable nooks and crannies – picture evocative monuments and bougainvillaea-clad, 17th-century mansions amid cobblestone alleys. But that’s not all. Postcard pretty nostalgia aside, having proven its resiliency time and again, this city resolutely lives for the here and now. Sporting a thriving foodie scene, vibrant nightlife, and great shopping – from folk creations to stylish pret-a-porter and from Haute jewellery to fine leather, Chania is a modern traveller’s dream.
Nowadays, a new landmark has been added to its already potent arsenal of attractions. The stunning new Archaeological Museum of Chania has tales to weave and stories to recite through its age-old collections (a good chunk of which has not been publicly displayed so far!) – and is just what was needed to consolidate Chania’s position among the world’s top-ranking cultural tourism destinations.
The New Archaeological Museum of Chania
Located in the former Hatzidakis camp in Halepa – a historic neighbourhood, dotted with beautiful neoclassical mansions – the New Archaeological Museum of Chania is a contemporary architectural masterpiece. Designed by renowned Greek architect Theophanis Bobotis and predominately financed by EU funds, the monumental building occupies almost 6.000 sq.m. in a 12.000 sq.m. plot. In sync with its surroundings, the striking triangular, single-story bioclimatic structure, emerges from a hillside and projects out over the sea. It is composed of two distinct linear monoliths, with a view to symbolising the evidence of civilization hidden under the earth’s surface. The stunning entrance features cobblestone and large concrete tiles – and the interiors are no less spectacular in their simplicity, with crisp, white walls contrasting with parquet floors; and open spaces that facilitate the free flow of movement.
The museum includes restoration labs, a large room for educational activities and a 120-capacity amphitheatre, that’s also accessible to visitors with reduced mobility. The emphasis lies on inclusivity throughout, and for this purpose, two touch tables have been moreover added to the atrium for the visually impaired.
Featuring more than 3.500 pieces of spectacular art, crafts stelae, mosaics and sculptures, the New Archaeological Museum of Chania, invites visitors to delve deep into history and into the nuances of Crete’s cultural traditions. The treasure-laden collections which were housed in the museum’s former premises on the Venetian Monastery of Agios Fragiskos in Halidon Street until 2020, were meticulously transferred to their new home. But the exhibits are now significantly augmented with the addition of some 1.000 more items from the Mitsotakis’ rich private collection, which was donated to the Greek state – and is exhibited in its entirety for the first time.
Spanning a period of many aeons, from 4000 B.C. to 300 A.D., displays include Minoan and Roman artefacts excavated from around the city of Chania and the surrounding regional unit, as well as from Axos and Lappa in the Rethymno regional unit. The antiquities on show paint a vivid picture of life in ancient Crete. They also serve to highlight the traces this great island’s patrons and conquerors left throughout the centuries – all these indelible influences that have shaped Crete’s past and present.
Eye-catching and remarkable inside and out, the New Archeological Museum of Chania appeals to architecture and art lovers, history enthusiasts and cultural travellers alike.
If you are looking to immerse yourself in local histories, rituals and practices, the city’s latest gem is a not-to-be-missed experience. At the Adeste luxury Chania Villas, we could not be more proud of our Cretan legacy – and we’d like to take every opportunity to showcase it to the world. Stay tuned to our blog for more insights and tips about Chania and Crete.