The Venetian harbour of Chania was built by the Venetians between 1320 and 1356. The harbour was used for commerce and also to control the Sea of Crete against pirates. The Venetian harbour had room for 40 galleys, but it constantly silted up and was never very deep, so it kept having to be dredged, a difficult job with the equipment of the time.
On its north side the harbour is protected by a breakwater. Near the middle of this is a small bulwark like a gun emplacement and the tiny chapel of St Nicholas. This was where the Venetians and Turks executed condemned prisoners. The Firkas Fortress at the harbour entrance and the St Nicholas bastion in the middle of the breakwater defended the harbour from raiders.
Today, the Venetian harbour offers moorage for fishing boats and other small craft, while the commercial and passenger port of Chania is seven kilometres to the east, in Souda Bay.
The lighthouse is a distinctive feature of the harbour. It was built at the harbour entrance by the Venetians and restored in its present form by the Egyptians (1830-1840). The lighthouse of the Venetian harbour of Chania always fascinates visitors and is one of the most-photographed monuments in Crete.