Lonely Planet Writer

Striking beauty of Greek island captured by photographer returning home

Greek photographer Antonis Giakoumakis recently returned to his birthplace of Chania; a magical city on the balmy island of Crete. Though he tries to visit every year or so, during this particular homecoming he decided to take to those old familiar streets with his camera. The result is this evocative series of black and white shots that perfectly capture the charm and old-worldly character of everyday life in this laid-back Mediterranean city.  

Socialising in Chania. Image by Antonis Giakoumakis

“I was born in Chania”, Antonis tells Lonely Planet, “but left in 1970 at the age of 18 to study in Athens. I go back when I feel the need; it’s like medicine for me. Every time I visit, I feel emotionally charged. I think it’s because I find my lost childhood there, and recall the purity of those times. I remember the economic and social difficulties that I experienced too; I was from a poor family, but one that was full of love.”

The series capture the character of Chania. Image by Antonis Giakoumakis

How has Chania changed – or not – in the time that Antonis has been away? “There have been many changes”, he notes, “some for the better and others for the worse. But the hospitality and authenticity of the people remains. Around every corner and without much difficulty, you can find the pieces that link the present to the past, and that is magic.”

The old-world feel of Chania is still to be found. Image by Antonis Giakoumakis

The striking beauty of Chania’s distinctive facades can be seen in Antonis’ photos, as well as the sense of close-knit community that pervades. It’s a city steeped in history, with remnants of Venetian and Turkish architecture to be found around every corner. Indeed, one of is highlights is a stunning Venetian harbour that dates back the fourteenth century.

The distinctive facades haven’t changed since the photographer was a boy. Image by Antonis Giakoumakis

“I’m filled with love for the city”, says Antonis, “from the light, the colors, the sea, the smells, and that old Venetian harbor – my harbor.”