The third largest city on Crete, built on the site of the older Rithymna, it still retains today the character of its Renaissance appearance: it is a major attraction to visitors from all over the world.

The earliest evidence of habitation here comes from the late Minoan period (1550-1250 BC). It is much later on, though, that the city of Rithymna reaches its peak – namely in the 4th-3rd centuries BC. With the exception of the Roman period, the city thereafter is in decline, making no mark on history. For the time of the First Byzantine era and the Arab rule, historical information is scanty indeed.

  Rethymnon is, without exaggeration, one of the most attractive towns in Greece, with its particular ‘colour’, its wealth of history and architecture – preserving one of the best surviving Venetian cities.

In the Old Town Renaissance architectural elements of the Venetian era co-exist with Ottoman structures: the rich history of the city is in step with the development of modern tourism. In the summer, Rethymnon has visitors from all over the world, who base themselves here for the exploration of the Prefecture and indeed the whole island, whilst in the winter the students of the local University bring a buzz to the place.

Rethymnon maintains its long cultural tradition with events such as the Renaissance Festival that occurs every summer, bringing to life again that section of the city built then.

Further the Rethymnon Carnival, an institution now a century old, has witnessed a great development in recent years: it is famous throughout the country – and is a major draw to visitors every spring.

  A walk in the city of Rethymno

The main attractions of Rethymnon are concentrated in the Old Town, which is worth exploring without any preconceived route, but by just walking along the narrow alleys and so discovering picturesque spots, architectural treasures, old mansions and other signs of those conquerors who have passed through here.

  Setting out from the Megali Porta (Porta Guora),(the Main Gate or Porta Guora), one of the few remaining remnants of the city’s fortifications, our tour starts at  Aghios Frangiscos, the Neratze Mosque (Conservatory) and the Historical and Folklore Museum which are all to be found in the neighbourhood of the newly-created Asia Minor Square (Plateia Mikrasiaton). From this square we can see the  Turkish School with its distinctive architectural style. 

Next we pass the Venetian Rimondi Fountain (or the Taps, as the locals call it!), from where we can wander through the narrow lanes of the Old Town to discover the church  ‘Our lady of the Angels’ before going on to the Fortezza. From here we have the opportunity to look down upon the town and its beach front. 

Descending then to the Venetian harbour, we return to the shopping street (Arkadi) with its impressive  Loggia, and other restored structures of really exceptional beauty, such as the Kara Mousa Pasha Mosque.

The perfect conclusion to a walk in Rethymnon has to be nothing other than the sea-front promenade with its myriad cafes and bustling restaurants with a view of the sea and sandy shore.

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