" RETHYMNO - PLACE TO BE!!! " Top 5 Page for this destination Rethymno by Jawnuta

Rethymno Travel Guide: 165 reviews and 349 photos


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Rethymno is the capital city of the prefecture of Rethymno, which occupies the northern part of the island.

In its picturesque streets you will encounter contemporary buildings, traditional houses as well as mosques, byzantine churches and architectural structures of the venetian and turkish occupation period.

Amongst them, are the historic buildings of the Venetian Lotzia, the Venetian Mansions, the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, the churches of Santa Maria, the Lady of the Angels and the Neratzes Mosque.

Present-day Rethymnon is built on the site of ancient Rithymna, as the finds of a cemetery of the Late Minoan period, discovered in the Mastaba quarter, show. The town flourished during the Mycenean era. In the 3rd century AD, for some unknown reason, it lost its importance, and is only mentioned as a large village. However, Rithymna retained its autonomy and independence, as is evidenced by the coins which, as a free city, continued to mint. During the Byzantine period the town continued to be inhabited, and parts of Roman and Byzantine mosaics have been found.The Venetian period, also, was a time of great prosperity for Rithymna, as the Venetians used its harbour as an intermediate stop between Herakleion and Chania, and as an administrative centre for the area.

Since 1991, the Archaeological Museum of Rethymnon (tel. no. 0831/29975) has been housed in the pentagonal building opposite the main gate of the Fortetsa. The building was constructed by the Turks in an effort to strengthen the city's defence. Due to the different functions that it served over the centuries - until the 1960's it housed the civic prison - its original form has been significantly altered.

The museum contains the following collections:

Late Neolithic (3500-2900 B.C.) and Early Minoan (2800-2100 B.C.) finds from the caves Gerani, Melidoni, Margeles and Helenes, finds from the buildings at Apodoulou, Monastiraki and the peak sanctuary at Vrysinas, dated to the Middle Minoan period (2100-1600 B.C.) Late Minoan finds (1600-1100 B.C.) from the cemeteries, the most representative being that of Armenoi, finds of the Geometric (1000-700 B.C.) and Archaic (700-500 B.C.) periods from Eleutherna and Axos , finds from Stavromenos and Argyroupolis (ancient Lappa) dated to the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods.

Historical and Folk Art Museum of Rethymnon (tel. 23.667).
It houses a collection of handwoven items, paintings, as well as various folk art exhibits.

Folk Art Collection of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women (tel. no.29.572).
Here are exhibited collections of local costumes and jewellery. Also included is a large number of embroidered work and handwoven articles, as well as woodwork and pottery.

Rethymnon is the capital of the prefecture of the same name. It lies between the other two large towns - Herakleion to the east (at a distance of 80 kms.) and Chania to the west (at a distance of 60 kms.).

Rethymnon is a blend of modern and old-time dignity and charm. It has a population of about 20,000 inhabitants and is the administrative and commercial centre of the prefecture, as well as a communications centre. It is well provided with tourist facilities and prides itself on its cultural activity and its significant presence in the general cultural life of the island, much of which is centred around the Faculty of Letters of the University of Crete, established here.

Artistic events are regularly organized, as are exhibitions, plays, concerts and lectures. Rethymnon is linked by bus with the main towns and villages of the prefecture and also with Herakleion and Chania. There is also a regular year-round boat service linking Rethymnon with the port of Piraeus, but the town also makes use of the nearby port of Souda. Rethymnon has no airport, but it does have regular connections with the Chania airport.

Starting from the small Venetian harbour of Rethymnon, we can admire the 13th-century Venetian mole which once protected the harbour. This small breakwater with its high wall managed to face the wild waves of the Cretan Sea and survive the battle unharmed. It is in remarkably good condition despite the passage of so many centuries. Today there is a much larger breakwater outside it, with a new ferry port for ships to Piraeus and Santorini.

At the end of the mole stands the imposing lighthouse. This is not Venetian, however, as it was built by the Turks after the 17th century.

Along the quayside with its many fish tavernas, the row of similar frontages blends in with the Venetian buildings and later Turkish additions to form a picturesque whole.

The Venetian harbour of Rethymnon no longer provides moorings for Venetian galleys and Turkish warships, but the fishing boats rocking on the water make a serene and pretty picture. In summer the harbour is bustling with life, as the tavernas set their tables outside and invite passers-by to try their Greek or foreign cooking.

There are daily boat trips from Rethymnon to nearby beaches. Some of the boats look like old wooden sailing ships, complementing the nostalgic atmosphere of the Venetian harbour.

In winter the old harbour is a very different picture. There are no tourists and most of the tavernas are shut. But the café at the end of the harbour is open all year round, and locals and students sit there to enjoy the winter sunshine.

The Venetian harbour of Rethymnon is the ideal starting-point for a tour of the old town or a visit to the Fortezza, the Venetian fortress of Rethymnon.



Check out my CRETE & CHANIA pages as well

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:The real Cretan people are still there :-)
  • Cons:The McDonald is there too :-(
  • Last visit to Rethymno: Aug 2006
  • Intro Updated Apr 26, 2008
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