Fortezza - The Fortress of Rethymnon

The Fortezza - the pride of Rethymnon

In 1571 Ulutz Ali devastated the city wall of Rethymnon, Crete during one of his raids. Thus it became absolutely vital to fortify the hill of Palaiokastro (Old Castle) and to relocate the entire city there. Many problems had to be solved before the Fortezza was finally built during the period between 1573 and 1578. However, the city was never transferred to the safe area within the walls.


Two years after the destruction, on September 1573, the Rector Alvise Lando laid the foundation stone of the castle, which was to be built according to the drafts of Sforza Palavicini. After a large number of modifications, the fortress was finally completed in 1590. The general draft of the fortress provided new forms of defense, which had become necessary, since gunpowder had come into use: The polygonal ground plan included bastions whilst the walls were wider and inclined.

Fortezza Arches

In reality however, due to the morphology of the land only three bastions could be built to the South and to the East, while the north wall formed three peaks. In general the draft of the fortification wall was not the best possible, since it limited defensive abilities.

Fortezza Church

The rocky surface, which impeded an appropriate construction, the lack of a moat, the limited free space around the fortress resulting from the inhabitants' refusal to demolish their houses, were some of the basic factors, which limited successful defensive action.

Fortezza Mosque

Contrary to that the infrastructure of the interior space was probably well planned: Public buildings were situated at a distance from the wall, the ammunition storerooms were housed at the safe north side, and a square formed the centre of the fortress.

The interior of the fortress accommodated the following basic buildings: the storeroom of the artillery, where canons and weapons were kept, the residence of the Councilors, where one of the city's two Venetian councilors lived, the residence of the Rector, which represented a luxurious, magnificent building in the central square of the fortress.

Nowadays, the fortress hosts various exhibitions and the Erofili Theatre where concerts and theatrical plays are hosted during the Rethymnon Renaissance Festival.

Fortezza Map

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Opening Hours:
08:00 – 20:00
3.10 € Adults (2,60 € Children)