The town of Rethymnon with its 28.000 inhabitants and additional 7000 students is a small city which preserves a vivid medieval-renaissance color. The old, but exceptionally preserved city center is located beneath the walls of its sleepless guard, the Venetian Fortezza fortress. The coastline of the Municipality of Rethymno is characterized by the beautiful sandy beach, the clean sea, the Venetian port and the picturesque alleys.
The old city of Rethymnon still preserves its old Venetian style and its later Ottoman influences to a great extend. It has been declared a protected historical monument and a traditional settlement. The city of Rethymnon is a typical example of a regional urban center; it is closely connected to the mainland of the Prefecture as an administrative, transportation, educational, commercial, tourist, and cultural center. For that reason, the city sends and receives strong influences to and from the mainland, which may be negative – like in the ‘70’s when the population of the city and Prefecture decreased – or positive, like in the last decades, when the population increased the area. It is obvious that the city is a key location for the development of the entire Prefecture.
Worth a visit
The Loggia of Rethymno
The Loggia has been built during the 16th century and was designed by the famous architect Michel Snamicheli. Loggia was an eminent building of the city centre and has been a meeting point for the nobles to discuss political and economical issues. The building is very well preserved. The past 40 decades the building of Loggia hosted the archeological museum of the city, which has now moved to a building next to Fortezza. Today loggia hosts a market of archeological art copies.
During the Venetian times the Mosque Neratzes used to be a church named ‘Santa Maria’, dedicated to the Mary of Augustans. In 1657, the Turks turned the temple into a mosque named Gazi Housein or Neratzes, which also served as an Ottoman seminary. In 1890, the mechanic G. Daskalakis added a large minaret with two stone-made balconies to the building. Today the Mosque Neratzes is used as a conservatoire.
The Rimondi fountain was built in 1626 by the city’s Rector A. Rimondi. It covered part of the city’s water needs and it is located in the Platanou square, which was then the centre of the Venetian city. It has three water basins, three lion shaped water exits, and three columns crowned by Corinthian capitals bearing a Latin inscription. Today the fountain still springs water through the three lion heads.
The Venetian Fortezza fortress is built on the “Paleokastro” hill, located on the west side of the city. On the same hill the Acropolis of the ancient city of Rithymna was located, along with a sanctuary dedicated to Goddess Artemis. The Fortezza fortress was built between 1573-1580 by the Venetians in order to protect the citizens from the Turkish threat. It is shaped like a star, it has three gates and six ramparts. The temple of Saint Nicolo has been turned into the mosque of Sultan Ibraim Han. There was the building of the Commander, the building of the Counselor, army camps, stables, ammunition depots, a water supply reservoir and some houses that were later destroyed.
The Archaeological Museum of Rethymnon belongs to the national Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities Conservancy. Since 1991 it is housed in the pentagon building in front of the main gate of the Fortezza fortress. The exhibits present the history of the Prefecture from the Neolithic to the Roman period. They are exhibited in chronological order and by excavation site.
Brief stops will be made in this route, which Crete has followed for the past 300 million years, at this beautiful museum housed in the reconstructed Veli Pasa mosque and which is part of the natural History Museum of Goulandris. The material of Crete’s indigenous Pleistocene elephants and deer are significant, all being find in the region of Rethymnon. Continue reading about the Paleontological museum.
Who prefers to stay in one of the numerous city hotels has in no way to renounce the daily pleasure of swimming in the sea. The well-organized and extensive sandy beach literally right outside the front door invites you to relax; the same beach stretches for the next 13 km to the east all the way to Scaletta, and its different bathing places are easy to reach by excellent bus service.