Anja

Anja Zückmantel is a historian and librarian of Etz Hayyim Synagogue. She teaches History for the University of Maryland University College and is working on a PhD thesis dealing with the perception of Eretz Israel/Palestine in German Zionism. These are her highlights of Hania.

1. The Souvenir Shop “Temple”

The Souvenir Shop “Temple” at corner of Zambeliou and Skoufon streets was originally built as the Greek Orthodox Church of Ayios Ioannis Theologos. Later, under Ottoman rule it became Mehmet Aga Mosque. You can still see the double-nave of the Byzantine basilica and also the base of the former minaret and part of an Ottoman fountain remaining. Inside the building, the mihrab (prayer niche indicating the direction of Mecca) is the only remnant of the buildings history. The interior walls have been stripped of all plaster and thus all the Ottoman wall decorations and former Byzantine wall-paintings underneath were destroyed (apparently without the Archaeological Services taking notice). One wonders what the store owner had in mind when the shop was given the subtle name “Temple”.

2. Arsenali

This is where Hania is most Venetian – with the only Arsenali in the Mediterranean outside of Venice itself. There were a total of 20 docks on the south and east side of the harbour by 1607. So, the Venetians had apparently really meant to stay.

3. Muslim Cemetery

It is difficult to locate the former main Muslim cemetery in Hania today – just like most remnants of Muslim presence in the town. It was located near the former south gate (Retimiotta) – today a built up area between Hatzi-Mihaeli Giannari, Apokrorona and Manouso Gianakkidon Streets opposite the Covered Market.

4. The harbour front

In historic photographs, Hania’s Harbour Front is brimming with commercial life and trading ships are anchored at the quay walls of the extensive inner harbour. Today, the harbour front is filled with strolling tourists and locals; ships anchoring there are now tourist ships offering cruises by the hour. Every inch is crammed with restaurants where waiters are trying to draw tourist into their locales in a myriad of languages.

5. G. Papadakis & Sons

G. Papadakis & Sons, on Halidon Street next to the Municipal Art Gallery, is a defunct general store – the stand for the cashier still visible – which is now in ruins. Though I don’t know anything about the history of this building I like to imagine the store full of life with goods from all over the world. The building would make a great cultural centre today. It has been for sale for some time now and I keep my fingers crossed that it won’t be turned into yet another café or fashion chain-store.