Rethymnon (City), Crete Island
Walk around the streets of Rethimno is very nice especially in the evening when you can end your walk in one of the nice Greek taverns and restaurants. In the Old Town of Rethimno there are a lot of really nice taverns with the romantic atmosphere and it is really worth to drop by to have a dish or drink there.
You can also see the 16th century Venetian Loggia, one of the most important Rethimno's historic monument . It was an elitist club of Venetian nobility in the past and there is a gallery now and you can buy there a copy of antic stuff.
The other famous historic monument is a Rimondi Fountain from 1629 year which you can see during your walk around the Old Town of Rethimno (it is nor far from Loggia).
I walked on down from the fortress into a wonder of photogenic heaven......old buildings, overhanging wooden balconies, wall fountains, carved doors and interesting door handles and windows, old arabic inscriptions - the mix of Venetian and Turkish that have been here of old...then theres the ancient mosques and minarets, the palm lined promenade.
Its told that Rethymnon has had the most development of anywhere in Crete, especially with its 10km of large hotels extending down along the beach to the east - but thankfully at its heart Rethymnon has remained one of the most beautiful of Crete's major cities with its ancient middle of town pretty much spared....add to this the must see fortress and the blue sea alongside - its a city well worth a visit!
Being rather castle mad the Rough Guide's writeup of the massive Venetian fortress at Rethymnon being a must see was of course totally enticing.
Driving along the freeway to the turnoff down to Rethymnon you can see the huge fortress in the distance next to the sea - and it is massive!
It is said to be the largest Venetian castle ever built in response to a series of pirate raids that had devastated the town in the late 16th century. It was designed to be large enough to allow the entire town to take refuge within the fortress walls.
I found parking easily enough when I followed the road that goes around the fortress beside the sea and parked just below the fortress and walked on up to the entrance. The guy seated at a desk in the gateway had brochures with some historical info on the site and layout map. there are toilets just in from here.
Up on the hill within the walls that are still intact are the dotted remains of barracks, arsenals, deep shafts and also a domed building that was once a mosque.
There are excellent views from the walls out to sea and across the old town with its old minarets.
Rethymno is a nice and fairly sizable beach town on the northwest part of Crete. The Venetian Fortress there was built in 1580 and is fascinating to visit. It also gives great views of the city and the Sea of Crete.
Rethymno is a mini-Chania, it is more quiet (I did not say quiet, I say MORE QUIET) than Chania. You can see more local people on the streets of the Old Town. Not every building in the Old Town is converted into a hotel, people actually live there.
Harbour is much smaller than the one in Chania, but the beach is bigger. Harbour restaurant stuff try really hard to get you, but don't let that bother you. I go there usually for coffee, to look at the water and to relax in the shade during the day.
Rethymno is also easier to park and get around.
It is definitely place to visit during your summer vacation.
Check out my Rethymno tips on my Rethymno page.
Rethymno town, with appoximately 30.000 inhabitants, 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 Chania (60 km).
Rethymno offers two styles of visit: the endless big beach hotel strip that stretches from the east end of Rethymno, lapping up the coastal "villages" of Perivolia, Platanias, Adelianos Kambos, Pigianos Kambos, Sfakaki, Stavromenos, Skaleta... and the Rethymno that shows you the character of the old town with it mix of architecture and history, cultural influinces and styles ranging from Venetian to Ottoman empire.
Tip under construction!
This is a very important and beautiful town in western Crete, about 2 hours by bus from both Chania and Iraklio.
Rethymno is an academic city. It boasts a large Venetian fortress. I loved the narrow streets of Rethymno and the panoramic views from its fortress. Rethymno is Crete's another must-see :-)
Rethymno is Crete's third-biggest city and feels like a big, congested city everywhere except the old town area, where the environment is infinitely more relaxing. For this reason alone I recommend finding accommodations in this part of the city if you stay overnight. You'll find it to be much quieter, though even the narrowest of streets are not completely immune from scooter traffic.
Although much of the old town has been taken over by overpriced stores selling unimaginitive merchandise, there are still plenty of things to do and see and good places to eat. However, I'd recommend staying away from the seafood restaurants lining the old harbor at night with their pushy greeters trying to coax you in. Ironically, that's precisely the scene in the photograph for this tip. In the morning this is a very quiet and scenic part of town and I enjoyed walking around there very much.
I also have a separate section covering Rethymno, so please have a look there for more details about this city.
The most obvious attraction in Rethymno is the Ventian fortress, situated at the tip of peninsula on which the old city is situated. There's not much left inside the fortress, but it's still very much worth your time to go in and have a look around. An hour should be enough, and don't forget to visit the two churches hidden just after you go through the main entrance up to the ramp to your right. This side of the fortress also give good views of the waterfront area of the old city.
The old town of Rethymnon is another beautiful mixture of Venetian and Turkish architecture. Just wander through the narrow streets and enjoy the athmosphere. I found the visit to the big Ventian fortress a bit disappointed as there are no tables with information. But on the other hand, there's not really much to see inside anyway.... Admission to the fortress is 3 Euro.
Nothing too fancy from the outside, the Church Of The Four Martyrs is quite literally a work of art inside. I've never seen such bold and intricate decorations in a church before, and the fact that they're painted onto arches and domes gives them an almost 3-D effect. They seem to reach out and engulf you. It's quite wonderful. It's fairly modern though, no great history associated with it.
The cathedral was right behind our apartment. We guess that it was maybe the cathedral clock that chimed every half hour, 24 hours a day. We expected this to keep us awake at night but ample helpings of wine and cakes usually saw us out like a light each night.
The interior of the cathedral is quite lovely, but for something even better seek out The Church Of The Four Martyrs (see next tip).
The Rimondi fountain is a set of lions heads (the lion of St Mark, the symbol of Venice) that spout water into a trough. It's set amongst the remnants of some archways and against a very pretty pink rendered building. Nearby in the small square is one of our favourite eating and drinking places, Gallerie 1926.
There's really not much left to see of this, but it's the only remaining Venetian gate into the city. The others have been dismantled over time to give improved access to the city. Just beyond the gate are a number of shops selling fruit, veg, fish, bread etc. from open frontages. It gives the area an air of a market square and in addition there are other good gift and craft shops around this area.
If you go back (turn 180 degrees from this view) and up to the main road (maybe 80m or so) and turn right, a little way along is "Select", the best cake shop we found in Rethymnon (and maybe Crete).
A bit of a mouthful, this old derelict mosque stands at the eastern end of the old town just before you hit the beach resort. It's quite pretty but hemmed in by and overgrown garden and trees. In its ground are some remaining moslem gravestones.