Koum Kapi Chania – A historic neighborhood
Koum Kapi is an especial quarter of Chania city. It is located just to the east of Chania old Venetian Harbor.
Koum Kapi features the only beach inside Chania city, as it is located on a beautiful coastal zone. The name “Koum Kapi” originates from the Turkish word “Kum Kapisi”, which means Gate of Sand. The Gate of Sand, which was originally called “Sabionera” by the Venetians, took its name after a real gate on the old walls of Chania city that led to a marvellous sandy beach.
Koum Kapi, Chania – a place with a multicultural history
In the mid-19th century, Koum Kapi was home to about 2.500 poor people from North Africa (mainly from Benghazi), who had been brought to the place by the Ottomans in order to carry out all the harsh jobs of Chania harbor. They were collectively called “Halikoutes” by the locals.
These people, who were essentially living as slaves, used to live in tents, as most of them where Bedouins, or huts made from tin or other easy to find materials. The sanitary conditions in the area of Koum Kapi were terrible.
This situation lasted until 1913, the year of the reunion of Crete with Greece, when all these poverty stricken people managed to return from Koum Kapi and Chania to North Africa, after the agreements for population exchange between Greece and the former Ottoman empire.
After that, the authorities of Chania took great care to regenerate Koum Kapi, and turn it into a modern European neighborhood, like the rest of Chania city. These efforts started gradually to pay off.
After the great catastrophic wars in Asia Minor, which lead to horrible massacres and the massive dislodgement of millions of Greeks by the Turkish army, many Greek refugees from Asia Minor came to Chania in 1924 and afterwards, and many of them stayed in Koum Kapi. As many of these refugees where traders and generally people of high education, they largely contributed to the improvement of the living conditions in Koum Kapi, which gradually became one of the best neighborhoods in Chania city.
Koum Kapi in today’s Chania
Today, Koum Kapi is one of the best places in Chania to eat, drink, and entertain yourself. There are many quality cafes, bars and taverns in the area, all of them providing excellent view to the sea and the beach. Koum Kapi is for many people the “modern version” of Chania old Venetian Harbor.
Koum Kapi is the meeting place of the young people of Chania city, but people of every age are flocking here, especially during the weekends, when you can also find many families.
The view from Koum Kapi is really fantastic: On the left we see the Gate of Sand on the old walls of Chania, where the name of the quarter came from. In front of us, the vast sea and the beach of Koum Kapi make a marvelous spectacle. And on the right, we see the eastern suburbs of Chania city unfolding in the horizon.
Koum Kapi is rightfully one of the prettiest corners of Chania city, with plenty of options to have a good time and admire the breathtaking view. After visiting the Old City of Chania and the Venetian Harbor, don’t forget to also visit Koum Kapi: chances are you will be pleasantly surprised.