Rethymnon (Ρέθυμνον) Crete the capital of Rethymnon prefecture
Rethymnon, Crete capital of the homonymous prefecture, is an incredible town of old and new, mostly well known for its beautiful Venetian harbor.
Rethymnon Map of the city
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Rethymnon Crete is a vibrant and charming city of about 30,000 inhabitants, situated on the north coast of Crete, between Chania (60 km) to the west, and Heraklion (80 km) to the east. It is, in fact, the third largest city on Crete.
Rethymnon has a rich and long history. The original town came by during the classical years, 470-323 B.C. and was then known as Rithymna.
It began to flourish during the Venetian occupation from 1204, during which it became an important port due to its excellent geographical position for trade with the rest of the Aegean and the Peloponnese, and with the Southeastern Meditteranean countries.
It was during this period that the fortress, the so called Fortezza, and the defending walls were built, protecting the town from pirates. It was also during this period that the towns people came to develop and embrace literature, painting, theatre and architecture. This continued until 1646, when Rethymnon was conquered by the Turks. From that time and until the Russian invasion in 1898, the population was involved primarily with agriculture.
Culture came to the forefront again once Crete was reunited with Greece in 1913. The University of Crete was founded in Rethymnon in 1974. Together with its campus in Heraklion, there are currently more than 10,000 full time students. Within the city, there are wonderful hotels, shops, places to eat and drink, historical sights to visit, and clean beaches easy to reach by walk. Since this is also a university town, you’ll always find a café, restaurant or bar open until the wee hours.
The old part of the city maintains its old aristocratic appearance and combines Venetian and Turkish architecture, wonderfully interesting alleys and streets to stroll through, minarets, fountains, and, of course, the Venetian Port. While there, be sure to visit the Fortezza dating back to 1573. Make sure to also visit it at sunset and wait until dark to view the walls and ramparts beautifully lit up along the coast.
Other highlights include Venetian monuments such as the Nerantzes Mosque, the largest of the five still remaining; the ancient Rimondi Fountain, renovated in 1626; and the Loggia, a building of Renaissance architecture dating to the 16th century, and with an interesting history.
For museum lovers, there are several excellent choices. The Archaeological Museum features interesting finds from many excavations of the area dating as far back as the Neolithic period. The Centre of Contemporary Art has a permanent exhibition and hosts other changing exhibits throughout the summer. In a beautifully restored Venetian building near the Neratzes Mosque, you’ll find an outstanding exhibit of both rural and urban life dating back to the 17th century in the Historical and Folk Art Museum. The eclectic collection includes embroideries, jewellery, pottery, folklore items, photographs, coins, weapons and drawings, among others.
For lovers of marine life, there is an excellent exhibit of shells, fish and sponges at the Marine Museum. Together with all of the above, you will also find a wide range of accommodation choices and a fully developed tourist infrastructure combined with well known Cretan hospitality.
Video Rethymnon City