What is perhaps everyday life in Chania for a local, for the visitor however, most of the venues where cultural events are being held seem fascinating because of the rich historic background. Imagine you are watching a play of an ancient tragedy with the Venetian Walls of the Kastelli cliff as a backdrop; or attending an exhibition inside the only surviving to this day, Gate of the Venetian Sabbioanra Bastion, or better yet inside an Ottoman Mosque. It is a wholesome experience where contemporary art comes together with the historic buildings that host them, only to produce a one-of-kind end result.
The Great Arsenal is the detached Venetian arsenal found at the Venetian Harbor, belonging to the remaining standing seven arsenal complex built by the Venetians in the late 15th century by the Venetians. Originally it was a ground floor building , however in the late 19th century, during the late Ottoman era, a second floor was added. Since then, the Great Arsenal hosted many important civil services and shifted roles many times. It was a Christian school, a public hospital, it even accommodated the Municipality as the City’s town hall. Today it is totally restored, boasting all the modern facilities and equipment in order to conduct many prominent events. It houses the Center of Mediterranean Architecture, hosting events, talks and conferences, mainly regarding architecture.
Theatre of the East Moat
For the last 30 years, the Santa Lucia bastion hosts the Theatre of the East Moat. The theatre has a capacity of 1350 people and it is the largest outdoor theatre of Chania city. Every summer it attracts the most popular and biggest theatre productions of Greece while on tour. Ancient tragedies, comedies, contemporary plays and large scale productions for children are all included in the summer program. The seating is numbered so you better book in advance for seating preferences.
At the northern end of Santa Lucia bastion, by the sea, between the eastern end of the Venetian Harbor and Koum Kapi neighborhood, Sabbionara Gate is the only surviving gate of the Venetian fortification walls. Today it is used by the Municipality of Chania as a delegated space for exhibitions and art installations.
One of Chania’s trademark monuments, the mosque Giali Tzami that stands at the Venetian Harbor, opposite the Egyptian lighthouse is now a space that hosts occasionally, art exhibitions. The mosque itself is a fine example of Ottoman, renaissance architecture and it accentuates the multicultural charm of the Venetian harbor. On its eastern side, there is a big, flat open space where several concerts, competitions, nominations and gatherings take place.
Municipal open air cinema
The municipal open air cinema has a long history dating back since 1905. It was an internationally groundbreaking innovation, and a significant cultural addition to the Municipal Garden. Every summer, the cinema is filled with people who long for the magic that the open air cinema brings during hot summer nights and cannot be compared to anything else. The smell of popcorn fuses with the flower scents of the garden and the starlit nights are the ceiling of your movie viewing.
Theatre of Peace & Friendship Park
This open air amphitheater is located right in the center of the modern city of Chania, next to the Municipal Garden, on Andrea Papandreou St. Is located in the beautiful public green park of Peace and Friendship and it can accommodate up to 600 seated people. It hosts concerts, theater plays, dance shows and they are free of charge.
This beautiful open air amphitheater in the midst of a wooded area in Lentariana, was left to its own demise up until 2021, when the Municipality intervened and took over its ownership for better use of the abandoned theatre. It seats 500 people and summer 2021 was the year that the citizens of Chania re-appreciated its existence by attending many plays.
Municipal Art Gallery
The Municipal Art Gallery is housed in a historical building “Megaron Koundourou” of the early 20th century on Chalidon St. This eye catching neoclassical 3-storey building has been restored to meet the requirements of a modern institution that promotes the Arts and preserves art treasures with state of the art equipment and installations. Within its premises, there are various exhibitions being held, temporary and permanent which attract the art community of Chania.