“Several monuments mark with their presence the different phases Rethymno has been through. The most imposing buildings belong to the Venetian era but the Turkish presence can also be felt in the Mosques and the Turkish bad that have survived the ages.”
Rethymno’s Fortress was built after 1573 to protect the population from the frequent raids of Arab and Turkish outlaws (pirates). It was originally planned as a stronghold that would house all the private abodes of the town.
After completion of the public buildings and the surrounding yard it was made clear that this was not feasible because of lack of space. It was therefore decided that the Fortezza would serve as a refuge for the population to resort to in case of emergency.
The Fortezza was built based upon designs of the architect Sforza Pallavicini. The original Venetian designs show the yard to consist of four bastions and three major entrances. Its three loukout posts design on the north side of the wall is typical for this period.
Also typical is the fact there are no buildings along the southern and eastern side of the fortress, which were most vulnerable in case of a raid. At the center there was the house of the Rector as well as the Cathedral (Ibrahim Han Mosque). Along the northern side there were the powder magazines, safely away from the line of fire and the rest of the buildings. During the Turkish occupation the basic structure of the Fortezza complex did not suffer major changes, save some necessary repairs.
The most important of the surviving buildings of the Fortezza complex is the Ibrahim Han Mosque, originally built by the Venetians as a Cathedral.
Originally called “Fountain of St John the Baptist”. it was rebuilt on its remains in 1626. Since then it is called by the name of the Venetian Rector who ruled at the time , Alvise Rimondi.
Rethymno’s picturesque harbor has constantly been rebuilt and modified. Built in the beginning of the 14th Century(1300), it could never accommodate a lot of boats because of the prevailing currents along the coast.
Monastery of Arkadi
Built during the late Venetian period, it consists of a large set of fortress – like buildings. The main complex included the cells, the ware–houses where food was stored, and the stables. It was thus a well-equipped small fortress, a refuge where people could flee to in times of trouble.
Due to holocaust it suffered in 1866, its name has become equivalent to “freedom” for the Cretan people. It lies on a low plateau, 22 Km from Town Center and 45 Km from Panormos. In the middle of the courtyard stands the impressive church, with its two naves dedicated to Saint Constantine the Great and His Mother, Saint Helen, and to Our Lord.
The Monastery played as early as the the 16th Century an important scholarly role:many copyist monks worked there, it was equipped with a rich library and run a school.
Monastery of Prevelis
This Monastery dedicated to saint John the Baptist, consists of two separate building complexes that lie 3Km apart. The first one named “Lower Monastery is abandoned and only the ruins survive today. The coastal back Monastery can be visited and houses the relics Museum.
The Monastery church was built in the 19th century in the place of an old Byzantine church. One can see here icons of amazing beauty. The Monastery played a big role during the independence War against the Turks as well as in the 2nd World war.
An archaeological site of great interest, 29 Km from Rethymno and 51 Km from Panormos, near the village Prines. The ancient city of Eleftherna was built on a fortified hill rock, surrounded by two rivers. The name “Eleftherna” is recent – the original ancient names of the city were: Satra, Saoros, Apollonia.
The classic era Temle of Apollo (hence the name Apollonia) and Artemis, the ruins of the city walls, the Roman aqueduct and the huge water reservoirs, the ancient bridge of the Hellenistic period, its unquestionable existence and prosperity dating as far back as the Geometrical period, make it a fascinating and exciting place to visit.
Many ancient scholars, thinkers and poets came from Apollonia (Eleftherna) such as the philosopher Diogenis the Apolloniat, the first troubadour Linnos, the sculptor Timocharis.
The long and very careful excavation research has brought to light the central core of the settlement, which has been situated at the same spot from Prehistoric to Byzantine times and is located on the hill Prines . Hellenistic walls and buildings, rich Roman abodes, paved streets and an early Christian Basilica are the most characteristic remains.
Minoan Cemetery of Armeni
1 km to the north of Rethymno lies the Minoan Cemetery of Armeni. It has been continuously excavated since 1969. It is the biggest arched graves (tholotos tafos) Cemetery found in Crete. Most of its graves (250 have up to date been found) were intact, a fact that contributes greatly to the better understanding of burial practices and gives valuable information about the causes of death of the Minoan population.
Located in the Mylopotamos county, the name of the village Axos echoes its ancient name Oaxos or Axos. This was an important Minoan City, mentioned on several Knossos boards. Built directly on the natural pass that since the Minoan times linked West and Eastern Crete, it was strongly fortified. Remains of this fortification are still obvious in various places.
Rethymno by Night - Clubbing in Rethymno
Entertainment is the key word for all ages, all tastes, for every day and every hour in Rethymno. Rhythm and liveliness are ambient everywhere. All sorts of sounds and rhythms are present here: jazz, rock, Latin, modern and traditional sounds. Rhythm is the live cell, pulsating when the sun goes down and the night-lights are on...
From one side to the other, the Venetian port pulsates with life and fun. Just find one of those countless nightclubs, choose the music and the kind of entertainment that suits you. Even if the music is unfamiliar to you, do not hesitate to discover and explore it. You may leave one of the traditional Cretan dancing clubs, having learnt how to dance the “Pentozali”.