Welcome to Rethymnon
In the Medieval times, Rethymno was one of the most important Venetian harbors. Today it still preserves this atmosphere in the small alleys and in the traditional houses which reflect the Venetian Renaissance architecture as well as the Turkish influences from the past.
The most significant of the remaining buildings are the Fortezza, (fortress built by the Venetians in 1573), the old Venetian harbour and from the Turkish occupation period, the Ibrahim Pasha mosque. In the surroundings of the town there are plenty of traditional villages such as Kournas (with its romantic lake), Maroulas (with its very old buildings and towers), Argiroupoli (with its natural springs) and Arkadi (the historic monastery with an interesting relic museum).
Time - Rethymnon passed into the hands of the Venetians at the beginning of the 13th century. During their domination the walls were constructed, as well as the Fortezza (fortress built by the Venetians in 1573) and many public buildings.
Both at Rethymnon and in other parts of Crete during the Venetian occupation, a vigorous literary and artistic activity which came to be known as the "Cretan Renaissance" blossomed. The doorways of Rethymnon, the Loggia and the Rimondi Fountain are some of the typical landmarks of Renaissance architecture.
The occupation of Rethymnon by the Turks in 1646 was to last until the proclamation of the Cretan State in 1898. In 1913, Crete was united with Mother Greece and little Rethymnon entered the 20th century. "Forsaken Rethymnon" was to undergo strong economic development which has made it what it is today.
Place - The old city of Rethymnon constitutes one of the best-preserved Renaissance cities in the Mediterranean. Its urban fabric has remained unchanged; the Fortezza, the harbor, Agios Franciscos, and the private houses are either in good condition or are undergoing renovation. Rethymnon, above all due to the contribution of its people, has a brilliant future.
Sea - Little harbor - big harbor - marina – all together in one. There is even a sandy beach inside the harbor ... really, does anyone remember the waterfront?
Two large sandy beaches, each more than 15 km long, extend along the northern shore of the Prefecture of Rethymnon. One of these, running eastwards, begins within the city and reaches as far as Skaleta. The largest hotel complexes in the Prefecture are to be found along it. The other, western beach begins from the mouth of the river Petre and runs as far as Georgioupolis.
Study - The university campus with 6.000 undergraduate students constitutes an intellectual embellishment and an injection of liveliness for the city. Together with the library, the Centre of Modern Art and many other intellectual institutions project the cultural face of Rethymnon.
Crafts - Crafts which are passed on from father to son; crafts which combat the monotony of mass production. The making of the 'lyra', pottery, weaving, wood-carving; crafts which are so strong that you could say they will last forever.
Cretan cookery - Its fame has taken on mythical proportions, and it has become synonymous with longevity. The secret? Put some more olive oil on the salad.
Everywhere in the old town small traditional taverns can be found, which combine good food and magnificent views. There are also plenty of "Cafenions" ideal for enjoying a tsikoudia or else raki (traditional Cretan grappa).
Feast - Shearing, distilling, religious feasts – all are an excuse for friends and acquaintances to gather together, set out a table, and then dance while the tsikoudia flows copiously.
Culture - During the summertime a wide range of cultural events take place. The highlight is the Renaissance festival, which plays host from June till September on the Fortezza, to a great variety of theatre, music and dance performances. Every July the people of Rethymno celebrate the Cretan Wine Festival where free wine is offered to the visitors. Apart from these are many other smaller Cretan traditional summer celebrations in the villages nearby.
Carnival - The Carnival of Rethymnon, which is the largest on Crete, is undoubtedly the festival of the masses. Similarly, the Renaissance Festival of Rethymnon is that which every summer places Rethymnon at the head of the list where cultural venues throughout Greece are concerned.
Treasure Hunt - The most popular organisation in respect of participation is the Treasure Hunt of Rethymno. It is the favourite game of the locals of all ages and takes place two weeks before Carnival. Also, the Association of Hotel owners in co-operation with the Municipality of Rethymno organises a treasure hunt each summer in the framework of the "International Day of Tourism". Visitors to the town are invited to participate and the winners are awarded 'all included' holidays in Rethymno.
Tourism - With more than 250 hotel units, many of which are of the luxury and first-class categories, and together with its conference facilities, rooms for rent, villas and green tourism, Rethymnon constitutes one of the most important tourist destinations in Greece.