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Ta Neoria, the dry docks, the dockyards, the arsenal… You can find these wonderful old structures – my sister Margie’s favorite in all of Chania – under all those names. Seventeen were built in the middle of the east side of the Venetian Port between the years 1467 and 1599. Two more were added at the far east end, not too distant, in 1607. Seven structures remain in the original position, while the other two, known as the Moro Docks, still stand at port’s end – one occupied by a maritime museum, the other by the wonderful Sailing Club Sea Lounge and Espresso Bar that serves great fruit salads and offers splendid views of the port and the Faros, the lighthouse. Two of the houses offered for rent on this site (Cosmopolitan House and Casa Canea) are located a 3-minute walk from the Moro dockyards. Another house, Romantic Maisonette, is located five minutes from the main cluster of remaining dry docks.
So were these structures dry docks or arsenals, i.e., ammunition dumps? In Chania’s rich and varied history they have been both. They were built and used as dry docks by the Venetian occupiers of the island, while later the Turkish occupiers used them for military storage. The Turks, during their years of occupation (1645-1898), tore down unneeded dry docks, eventually eliminating nine of them. According to the small but mighty booklet Discover Chania… on Foot (www.discoveronfoot.com), each dry dock was (is) 50 meters long and nine meters wide. I would go out and do a guesstimate of the height in person, but we remain in lockdown due to the coronavirus. You’ll have to check that yourself when travel restrictions are lifted and you can come here yourself. In any case, judging by the photos, each dry dock stands somewhat higher than it is wide.
These days there is a wide quay the separates the buildings from the harbor slips and water. But in some old photos you can see the water coming right up to the seaside entrances.
The seven main docks are essentially abandoned at present. You can peer in broken windows and see that there is storage of some sort going on in there, and people do some and go from time to time. But all of the main seven docks long ago ceased to have a public life.
Kallergon Street in the far north of the Splantzia area runs along the backside of the docks. The west side of the far dock still has marks of former glory – we can see where Venetian doorways and plaques and arches were located.
Texts and photos Copyright © 2020 John Freedman

The back side of the docks as seen from Kallergon Street, looking east.
Kallergon and the back side of the docks at night, looking east.
Kallergon Street looking west.
The area on the west wall of the old docks where passages and decorations were once located.
The west wall of Ta Neoria, the dry docks.
The docks as seen from the wall leading to the Faros (lighthouse).
The old segment of docks as seen on a rainy day.
The old segment of docks as seen more or less from the newer Moro Docks.
All seven of the original docks looking west.
Four of the docks looking to the west.
The block of seven docks looking to the east.
The wall of one of the docks built by the Venetians between 1467 and 1599.
Looking east to the end of the Venetian Port, we see the Moro Docks, the left one being a cafe, the one on the right being a museum.
This photo taken of the eastern basin of Chania’s Venetian Port in 1902 shows the lighthouse on the right and two of the dry docks at the far left.