Rethymno, the capital of the prefecture with the same name.
History, sightseeing of the Venetioan fortress Fortetsa, the old town and Hotels in Rethymno.

The harbor of Rethymno with the long sandy beach stretching to the East, pictured from the ‘Fortetsa’ fortress.


Rethymno is located on the western side of a yellow-colored sandy beach, which is over 7 miles (ca. 11 km) long and the biggest in Crete.

History of Rethymno

The city is constructed over the remains of historical Rethimna as was verified from the excavations which had been done in 1974 locally of Mastabas the place that the cemetery of the early city was discovered, together with discoveries from the Minoan time and coins which revealed that it had been an independent community.

Inscriptions had been in addition discovered from the 4th, 3rd and 2nd century B.C. which validate that the city existed throughout the Hellenistic time.
Throughout the Roman period, it started into downfall and overcome like a simple village within the initially By­zantine time. Rokkaia should be located upon the slope today named Fortetsa, however in the past identified as Palaiokastro.

Muslim prayer towers Rethymno
Muslim prayer towers and mosques dominate the city’s image still until today.

Within the subsequent Byzantine phase, there seems to be a village close to the present-day harbor. Through the Venetian times, the circumstances caused by Venetian trade with Syria, Egypt as well as Africa resulted in the tiny village to start to flourish following the beach by the end of the Thirteenth century. The actual city is the outcome of this action and also at the same time it started to be an urban center as the trading activity in the region shipped through it.

In 1450 the Venetians chose to fortify Rethymno using a wall and constructed a fortification (Fortetsa) around the slope following the harbor, following the raid of the Turkish buccaneer Barbarossa who plundered most of northern Crete. The fortification works under the supervision of M Sammicheli required Thirty years, however were unable to avoid the Turks from capturing Rethymno in 1636, following a siege of just Twenty-two days.
In 1897 the troops of the European Great Powers forced the Turks to leave Crete and in 1909 they also left in order that Crete could be joined Greece in 1913.


Sightseeing of Rethymno

The height of Fortetsa with all the remains from the old Venetian fortress overlooks Rethymno. Towards the south of Fortetsa is the new city of Rethymno together with broad roads, and mo­dern architecture which expands to the first heights. The old town of Rethymno spreads out to the north, an outstanding location with small roads, decorated with all the remains of the Venetian and Turkish periods. Within the excursion of the old town you will note Byzantine and Venetian churches, splendid doorways with arched, vaulted or perhaps horizontal lintels, vault­ed passageways, water fountains in a variety of designs, also idyllic hotels and a lot more fascinating.

Loggia of Rethymno.

The Loggia on Arkadiou and K Palaiologou Streets is the most essential monument in Rethymno. It had been constructed in the 16th century and it was the place that the Venetian nobles assembled for relaxing. All the 4 ends of the structure has 3 semi-circular arches, and also the outer walls are samples of citadel type archi­tecture. These days it houses the Archeological Museum of Re­thymno.

The Rimondi water fountain in Patychakis Square was constructed in 1626. It has 3 basins into which water runs coming from carved skins, fluted columns with Co­rinthian capitals sitting on an elevated stage and holding up an entablature having an epistyle. The Guora gate or Megali Porta (“Great Gate”) is at the start of Antistaseos Street.

Rimondi fountain
Rimondi fountain.

Our Lady of the Angels had been constructed within the closing times of the Venetian period and dedi­cated to Ayia Magdalini. Saint Francis on Antistaseos Street is among the most significant monuments in Rethymno, in the past a Franci­scan monastery. The Neratzes mosque is around the classic Venetian square. At first, it had been the church of Santa Maria and an Augustinian monastery having a side-chapel committed to the Body of Christ. In 1657, it had been transformed by Hussein Pasha into a mosque following the conquest of Re­thymno.

Inside the 'Fortetsa' fortress
Inside the ‘Fortetsa’ fortress the remaining buildings and ruins.

The Fortetsa fortress had been created between 1573 and 1588. It offers 4 walls, having a major gate and 2 auxiliary gates. From the complexes within the fortress, like the governor’s place, the government constructions, the episcopal megaron, a pair of churches, powder magazines and personal homes you’ll find nothing remaining, just several walls, reservoirs along with a domed mosque.

old town of Rethymno
The picturesque narrow streets of the old town of Rethymno.

The old ‘Venetian harbour‘ is the most attractive part of Rethymno, although today the beautiful sixteenth-century lighthouse only watches over tavernas on the harbour quay instead of sailing ships, barges and galleys.
The nearby and impressive breakwaters, which are constantly being extended and repaired, point to the problems of this harbour. Shortly after the harbour was completed, the Venetians had to realise that the docks were silting up and these difficulties have continued to this day.
Until recently, the harbour was therefore unable to accommodate really large ships or ferries. When the first ferry was purchased by the people of Rethymno, the entire harbour had to be excavated and only constant shovelling allowed it to remain open.
This is why even today larger ships have to dock in a specially built outer harbour and the inner harbour is only for fishing boats, private boats and excursion boats.

Harbor of the old town.

The Archeological Museum of Rethymno is located inside the Loggia and features discoveries coming from overall the prefecture, arranged chro­nologically beginning with the Neolithic to the Byzantine time. The Neo­lithic discoveries originate from the Gerani Cave and Elenes Amariou, ceramic from Prepalatial days, Minoan discoveries from different times found at the villages of Orne, Foufouras, Saktouris, Pangalochori, peak sanctuaries, Vrysinas, Atsipades, the Idaian Cave as well as Axos. Found at the region of Katsambas and also the cemetery at Armeni occur Post­palatial ceramic, 10 sarcophagi, ceramics from Classical periods, in addition to sculptures along with other discoveries from the Hellenistic and Roman times.

Unfortunately, Rethymno is annually the city with the highest poison crime figures on Crete.

Hotels in and around Rethymno

Overview of available hotels in and around Rethymno at the best price!

Video about Rethymno

Video about the Fortetsa fortress and the old town harbor of Rehymno.

Directions to Rethymno

map creteLink to map with directions:
Click here: Directions Rethymno.

Arkadi Monastery

Arkadi monastery
Arkadi monastery with its magnificent church in the center.

Arkadi, the symbol of Cretan will of freedom.
The 8th of November is National Day of Crete with a large procession, which reminds of the dramatic events in the uprising against the Turks of 1866 in Arkadi Monastery.

The Arkadi Monastery can be reached from Rethymno by following the old National Road through the eastern suburbs. After 2.75 miles (4.5 km) turn right towards the monastery. The good road passes through the villages of Adele, Kyrianna and Amnantos and after 14 miles (23 km) you will reach in a breathtaking landscape of olive groves with a narrow gorge. When you pass the gorge to the small plateau, which is surrounded by mountains, the lonely monastery lies ahead.

Arkadi Monastery

According to an inscription, the monastery has been founded in the 14th century by a monk named Arkadius and the two-nave monastery church with the most beautiful facade of Crete was completed in 1587. Other – unproven – sources claim it was to have been founded in the 5th century by the Byzantine Emperor Arkadius.

The monastery has fortress-thick exterior walls. Its original church was dedicated to Ayios Konstantinos, but today there are only a few ruins left of it. The magnificent church, which today can be seen in the interior, was built during the 16th century on the place of the old one in the form of a two-aisled basilica. The north aisle is dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ and the southern part to Ayios Konstantinos and Ayia Eleni.

On 1st May 1866, about 1,500 rebels gathered inside the monastery and founded a Cretan revolutionary committee. Ismael Pasha of Rethymno demanded that the abbot of the monastery, Igoumenos Gavriel, should dissolve the committee and withdrawal the freedom fighters, otherwise he would destroy it. After the abbot had refused, the Pasha attacked the monastery with 15,000 soldiers and 30 guns from November 7 to 9.

It was a completely unequal fight, because among the 924 people inside Arkadi monastery, there were only 325 fighters. Pardon was not to expect, and so the Cretans voted whether they prefer death or capture.
The next day, as the Turkish soldiers stormed the gate, Kostas Yiaboudakis fired his pistol into the powder magazine, where most of the trapped people were crowded together. The explosion also killed numerous Turks. 36 unarmed people, who had retreated to the refectory, were slain by the enraged Turks.

By evening, 750 Cretans and about twice as many Turks were killed. The bones of many of the dead are now in an open tomb opposite the entrance of the Arkadi Monastery and still could be seen on many parts of the building the tracks and margins of the struggle.

November 8 is now Crete’s national holiday with a large procession commemorating the dramatic events of the 1866 uprising against the Turks at Arkadi Monastery.

Video about Arkadi Monastery

Video of the outer walls and the entrance area as well as the access road through the narrow gorge up to the Monastery of Arkadi.


map creteLink to map with directions:
Click here: Directions Arkadi Monastery.

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