A walk in the city of Rethymnon, Crete - First Tour
1. The first walk starts at the entrance of the old town, the Porta Guora, also called the Great Gate, at the beginning of Antistaseos Street. The gate represents the only remaining part of the ancient fortified wall of the town of Rethymnon.
Rethymnon Old Town Map
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Continuing down Antistaseos, which is also known as Mikri Agora (Small Market), you will find the church of Agios Frangiskos on your left-hand-side and next to the church is the former Turkish Primary School.
Special attention should be paid to the outer door frame, which is in the Venetian style, whereas the inner door frame was added later on by the Turks and is ornamented with vines. Thus the initial frame was a much narrower shape. Next to each pilaster, pairs of relief work can be seen, which portray lions in the lower part and symbols of the Ottoman Empire in the upper part.
The entrance to the school, the lower part of which was built in 1796, is situated in Papamichelaki Street.
Continuing along Antistaseos, you will arrive at Souliou Street, which branches to the right. This picturesque alley is worth seeing, since it boasts a large number of shops displaying traditional handicrafts. This street leads up to Palaiologou Street, where we turn right.
A few metres further down, at the crossroads of Palaiologou and Arkadiou Street on the right side is the Loggia.
Today, the Ministry of Culture uses this building as a shop, where true copies of ancient artifacts are sold. We turn back in a westerly direction on Palaiologou and arrive at the famous Platanos Square (Platia Petychaki), where we find a remnant of the Venetian period, the Rimondi Fountain.
It is worthwhile having a closer look at the fountain before continuing through the square with its traditional cafes, tavernas and shops, and turning right into Vernardou Street.
Here we find the Neratzes mosque with its towering minaret. The mosque with its impressive dome was the Church of Santa Maria during Venetian times and belonged to the Augustine Monastery, which was located in the centre of the Venetian square. Its imposing door frame is ornamented with Corinthian capitals and an impressive lintel in the crown of the arch.
The Church of Santa Maria was transformed into a mosque in 1657 and the highest minaret of the town, furnished with two galleries, was added in 1890.
Further down Vernardou at No. 30 is the Folklore Museum of Rethymnon.
Further down the street you can admire one the most beautiful door frames of Rethymnon, which displays the following inscription: "VIRTUTE FULCIDA DOMUS MDCIXKAL JUNII" (Virtue makes this house shine, first days of June 1609). Continue the walk down Vernardou, you arrive at Nikiforos Foka Street and the square of Kyria ton Aggelon (Lady of the Angels).
The Church of The Little Virgin, as the people of Rethymnon call it, was built during the Venetian occupation and dedicated to Maria Magdalene of the Dominican order.
During the Turkish occupation, this three-aisled church was transformed into a mosque, and a minaret was added in 1680, which collapsed shortly after.
From the square of Kyria ton Aggelon turn into Arabatzoglou Street with its magnificently ornamented facades and door frames. A large number of wooden balconies, many more than anywhere else in town, have been preserved in this street.
From Arabatzoglou turn into Mesolongi Street and from there turn left into Radamanthios Street. The Turkish bath was housed at No. 25 during earlier times; now a private building, it cannot be visited though. The bath was built in 1670 and includes two halls with semi-circular domes.
To the west at the crossroads of Radamanthios and Nikiforos Foka turn right and continue down Nikiforos Foka. Continue down Klidis Street, the first alley on the left, which is famous for the superbly ornamented door frame at No. 13.
Continue down Klidis and then turn left into Renieri Street with its beautiful Venetian door frames and wooden balconies, until Panou Koroneou Street. No. 12 has an exceptionally attractive door frame with a relief that is richly decorated with natural motifs.
Walking down Koroneou in a westerly direction up to the intersection of Koroneou and Smyrnis, there are five fountains, two on Koroneou and three below the arch. Koroneou leads us to the square of Iroon Polytechniou, which is dominated by the neoclassical building of the Prefecture.
Return to Koroneou and, continuing in an easterly direction, turn right into Mavili Street. Notice the neatly kept houses with flowers and enclosed yards. Turn left into Piga Street, continue down Patelarou Street up to Nikiforos Foka Street, the famous Makry Steno (long alley) of the old town of Rethymnon.
The iconostasis, which is made of stone and built into the wall at the point where Nikiforos Foka and Papamichelaki meet, is worth seeing. Continuing along Nikiforos Foka in a southerly direction, turn left into Bouniali Street, where the blacksmiths and saddlers had their workshops in earlier times.
Following the road straight on it leads to Ethnikis Antistaseos and, looking to the right, is the starting point, the Porta Guora.