AND GREEK ISLANDS
Rethymnon is the capital of the Prefecture of
the same name and it is built between two other
large cities of Crete. In the east is Iraklion
(80 km) and to the west is Hania (60 km).
It lies along the north coast, having to the
east one of the largest sand beaches in Crete
(12 km) and to the west a rocky coastline that
ends up to another large sand beach after 10 km.
It is the administrative, communications and
commercial center of the Prefecture with
approximately 25.000 inhabitants.
There is direct connection all year round from
the port of Rethymnon to Piraeus. Tours to
Santorini are also organized during the summer.
Rethymnon does not have an airport but the city
is served by the airports of Hania and Iraklion.
Public buses can be used for travelling to Hania,
Iraklion and most of the towns and villages of
the Prefecture of Rethymnon.
There are evidences that Rethymnon city is built
on the site of ancient Rithymna that flourished
during Mycenean times. 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, it continued to mint.
During the Byzantine period the town continued
to be inhabited, and parts of Roman and
Byzantine mosaics have been found.
Rethymnon became a city during the Venetian
occupation. The Venetians needed an intermediary
port for their operations for their ships
traveling from Iraklion to Hania. They also
needed an administrative center, so Rethymnon
became the third bigger city in Crete and an
important cultural center. Rethymnon was
destroyed in 1567 when Algerian pirates
conquered, robbed and burned it. The Turks took
over Rethymnon at 1646.
During the period of Ottoman rule, Rethymnon
fell into decline as did the other towns in
Crete. During the difficult years of the
struggle for independence, its inhabitants were
actively involved and, as a result, many of its
freedom fighters were executed.
In 1897, the Russian army took Rethymnon and
held it until 1909. In 1913, it became part of
Greece, together with the rest of Crete.
City map & virtual tour
With this map you will enjoy a virtual tour in
the town of Rethymno. It features a distance
calculator, many photos and information on the
most important sites of the town.
During the German occupation, the Rethymniots
took an active part in the resistance against
In the last 25 years, Rethymno has seen a
significant growth, in economy by the
development of tourism and in culture by the
operation of the university.
The town still maintains its old aristocratic
appearance, with its buildings dating from the
16th century, arched doorways, stone staircases,
Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains, small
Venetian harbor and narrow streets.
The Venetian Loggia, an elegant building of the
16th century, that used to be a Venetian
gentlemen's club and today houses the
information office of the ministry of culture
and a sales point of the archaeological museum.
The Fortezza castle, at the top of a low hill
named Palaiokastro dominates the town. It was
built in 1590 to protect the city from the
pirates raids and the Turks.
The name "Palaiokastro which means 'The old
Castle" was in use even by the Venetians which
demonstrates the existance of an even older
castle at this place. - Probably the acropolis
of the ancient town of Rithymna.
The interior of Fortezza accommodated the
following basic buildings: the storeroom of the
artillery, where canons and weapons were kept,
the residence of the Councillors, where one of
the city's two Venetian councillors lived, the
residence of the Rector, which represented a
luxurious, magnificent building in the central
square of the fortress.
Today parts of those buildings, as well as of
some others built later, can be seen. The view
from up there is magnificent, especially at
The municipal theatre "Erofili" stands also at
Fortezza's premises. It is an outdoor theatre
that hosts almost all the performances during
the Renaissance Festival.
Rimondi fountain with rich decoration is
situated at Platanos square, the centre of the
Venetian town. It was built in 1626, by
A.Rimondi, in order to provide the citizens with
Neratzes mosque formerly the Holy Virgin church,
was converted into a mosque by the Ottomans.
Today it is used as a music conservatory.
Outstanding elements of this building are the
doorframe and the three domes. Next to the
mosque there is the impressive minaret, built in
Kara Mousa Pasa Mosque also a venetian monastery
that was turned into mosque by the Turks. Today
it is the house of the Restoration Board.
Porta Guora the entrance to the Venetian town is
the only remnant of the defensive wall.
Folklore & history museum (Vernardou 28-30. Open
Monday to Friday 09.30-14.30. Closed Saturday
and Sunday.) Housed in a restored Venetian
building with an interior courtyard. Eight halls
with collections that include textile and basket
weaving, embroidery & lace, costumes, ceramics,
historic photographs and maps, weapons and
coins. Over 5.000 items dating from the 17th to
the 20th century are displayed.
The Archaeological museum of Rethymnon (8am to
3pm, closed on Monday), just opposite the
entrance of the fortress, exhibits objects from
the Neolithic to the Roman period, found at the
prefecture of Rethymnon (mainly Eleftherna,
Monastiraki and Armeni). Clay figurines,
funerary coffers, grave offerings, statues,
grave steles, red-figure vases, bronze vessels,
jeweler and glass vases, are some of the
objects on display.
The municipal gardens are ideal for those in
search of shade and tranquility.
Throughout the year various activities are
organized which draw a large crowd. The Wine
Festival is held there annually at the beginning
of July. Another festival is held on 7-8th of
November, in memory of the destruction of Arkadi
Rethimnon is a city that caters to the needs of
There are a lot of places to stay ranging from
luxury hotels to rent a room, bed and breakfast
Night life can range from extremely intense on
the pubs and bars around the harbor and inside
the old city , to relaxed on small bars right on
There is always fresh fish to be found in the
taverns around the harbor and there are many
other restaurants and taverns outside the city
in equally attractive surroundings.
A commercial street with old buildings.
Shopping could also be interesting at Rethymnon.
There are lots of small shops with attractive
merchantise from souvenirs, cards, etc to the
most rare kind of sponge.