Rethymno
Aerial view of Rethymno city in Crete/ Photo 184205289 © Smoxx78 | Dreamstime.com

Rethymno with culture, hospitality and elegance

Landmarks from every era, endless beaches, authentic Cretan flavours

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.OVERVIEW

Rethymno regional unit is located between the regional units of Chania and Heraklion. Its capital is the city of Rethymno, or Rithymna as it was once called, the third-largest city in Crete. Rethymno has one of the best-preserved old districts on Crete with aristocratic buildings from the 15th and 16th centuries but is also famous for its beautiful beaches (on both the north and south coast), traditional villages, cosmopolitan resorts, Byzantine churches, and monasteries, such as Preveli and Arkadi. Some of the must-sees are also the Ideon Cave, said to be the place where Zeus was raised, which is located at an altitude of 1,495 metres on the Eastern face of Mt Psiloritis, Crete’s highest mountain.



.AT A GLANCE

Regional unit’s capital: Rethymno Regional unit’s area: 1,496 km2 Regional unit’s population: 85,609 Climate:

.ADMINISTRATION

The regional unit Rethymno is subdivided into five municipalities.

.MUNICIPALITIES


RETHYMNO     AGIOSVASILEIOS     AMARI     ANOGEIA     MYLOPOTAMOS     

.MUNICIPALITY OF RETHYMNO

Area: 396.3 km2  Population (2011): 55,525

.HISTORY

The long and rich history of Rethymno spans thousands of years. The city’s origins can be traced back to the Minoan period, one of the most significant civilizations in ancient Greece when ancient Rhithymna was prominent enough to mint its own coins and maintain urban growth. One of these coins is today depicted as the crest of the town: two dolphins in a circle. In the centuries that followed, Rethymno was conquered by a succession of empires and civilizations, including the Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, and Ottomans. The Turkish occupation lasted until 1898. In 1913 when Crete was united with Greece.

.POINTS OF INTEREST

The Fortezza (fortress): Built in the 16th century, the imposing medieval castle that stands on the Paleocastro hill above the town has magnificent panoramic views.

Old Venetian Harbour: Founded by Venetians in the 13th century, it is together with the lighthouse, constructed in 1830 by Egyptians, one of the most picturesque spots in Rethymno.

Loggia: Built in the 16th century possibly by the famous Veronese engineer Michele Sanmicheli, the much-photographed spot was used as a meeting point by the Venetian nobility who discussed politics, economy and trade.

Neradje Mosque: Also known as Gazi Hussein Mosque  it was a Venetian church dedicated to Santa Maria and later (1657) it was turned to a mosque by the Turks. because of its sky-high minaret is an obvious meeting point.

Porta Guora: The entrance to the Old Town during the Venetian occupation opened its gates at dawn and closed at night.Today, it opens on to the main shopping street of Rethymnon.

Makri Steno (long alley): Leading from the National Park to the Fortezza, with its Venetian homes and marble fountains, is one of the most beautiful streets in Rethymno.

Rimondi fountain: Built in 1626 by the Venetian governor Rimondi, is one of the most famous relics of the Venetian period.

Public Park: A favorite promenade for locals and visitors, the Public Park is a lush green area located in the center of the city.

.TOP BEACHES

Rethymno beach: The longest beach on Crete, with a length of more than 12km, the beach of Rethymno starts from the historical city center and extends to the Eastern part ending in the area of ​​Scaleta.

Koumbes: A long beach with sand and fine pebbles, located 2km west of the center of the city with wonderful views to the fortress of Fortezza.

Enetiko: In a walking distance from the city centre, Enetiko beach is a sandy beach, 

Perivolia: Another sandy beach is very close to Rethymno Town.

Platanias beach: Located about 6 km to the east of Rethymno, Platanias is a beautiful, sandy beach, affected by summer winds, the so called meltemia.

.GASTRONOMY

Rethymno has made a special mark on the island’s gastronomic landscape. The local cuisine, which draws from a diverse range of influences is based on the use of fresh and quality ingredients.

With the Cretan and Libyan seas providing a wide variety of incredibly fresh fish and seafood, fish lovers can enjoy grilled shrimp, octopus, squid, and lesser-known specialties like sword fish and sea urchins.

For meat lover there are smoked meats like “Apaki” made with lean pork, Cretan “Loukanika”, (sausages), and “Keftedes” (meatballs) infused with herbs.

.WINES & DRINKS

There are many old vines (centenarian) with Rethymno wine producers making PGI wines from such varieties of grapes such as Vidiano, Athiri, Vilana, Thrapsathiri, Moschato Spinas, Liatiko, Romeiko, Kotsifali, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache Rouge and Syrah.

.SHOPPING

The Old Town is full of stores with locally made products, clothes, shoes, natural cosmetics, unique jewelry, souvenirs, fabrics, leatherworks, ceramics, hand painted icons.

.FEASTS, FESTIVALS & EVENTS

Dekapentavgoustos: On August 15 (or Dekapentavgoustos) the Greek Orthodox church commemorates the assumption of the Virgin Mary. This period also hosts some of the greatest Panigiria (festivals) in many villages.

Cretan Diet Festival: The Municipality of Rethymnon, the Regional Unit of Rethymnon and the Chamber of Rethymnon every year hold one of the oldest cultural events, the “Cretan Diet Festival”. The Festival is clearly oriented towards the promotion of award-winning Cretan products, especially the local wine.

The Renaissance Festival: Since 1987 the famous Renaissance Festival has been organised by the Municipality of Rethymno every summer and includes theatre performances,  dance and music.

The Carnival of Rethymno: The second largest of its kind in Greece and organized since 1914, the Carnival’s festivities include treasure hunts, musical events and a large parade.

.RELIGIOUS SITES

The Sacred Monastery of Arkadi: Built at an altitude of 500m and 23km east of Rethymno, is the best-known monastery on Crete and a national sanctuary in honor of the Cretan resistance. In 1866, while under siege by the occupying Ottomans, 964 rebel fighters, women and children barricaded themselves inside the convent, finally setting the gunpowder depot alight rather than surrender to the enemy.

Preveli monastery: Dedicated to Saint John the Theologian, the monastery id aged since the end of the 17th century. During the struggle of Cretans for liberation, it served as a refuge for soldiers and rebellions.

Monastery of Chalevi:  Dedicated to the Holy Virgin, the large, single-aisled church is a Venetian creation.

Monastery of Saint Irini: One of the oldest monasteries in Crete, the Monastery of Agia Irini 5km south of Rethymno is considered to be a 10th century building.

Aghia Ekaterini church: Built in the end of 19th century this small church is located in the fort of Fortezza.

. ACTIVITIES

Water: For water lovers, scuba diving, sea kayaking, snorkeling, stand-up paddle (SUP), are just some of the options available.

Land: With its stunning natural beauty, the city offers a wealth of outdoor activities such as hiking, rock climbing or canyoning, biking and more.

.ACCOMMODATION

Τhere are 334 accommodation units, 17.654 rooms και 34.383 beds in Rethymno regional unit, according to INSETE data.

.TRANSPORT

Rethymno doesn’t have its own airport so you can arrive at Chania or Heraklion airport. Upon your arrival, you can reach Rethymno by taxi, by KTEL bus or by car.

Since there are no direct ferries to Rethymno, you need to reach either Heraklion or Chania first.

.KEY MUSEUMS

Archaeological Museum: Housed in the catholicon of the monastery of Agios Fragiskos a monument of the 16th century, the museum’s exhibits present the history of Rethymno from the Neolithic to the Roman period.

Historical and Folklore Museum: Housed in a restored Venetian building The Museum’s collections include traditional clothing, tools, ceramics, jewelry, coins, 

Wax Museum: Established in 1998 and located in the village of Zoniana, this interesting Wax Museum has figures from all over the Cretan history.

Museum of Cretan Lyra: Lyra is the island’s traditional musical instrument, This museum is really a Cretan lyra workshop. founded in 1940 by Manolis Stagakis, a well-respected lyra artist (lyraris). A collection of lyras and other traditional musical instruments,

Chromonastery Military Museum: Just 10km south of Rethymno, the museum  is a treasure
providing a day-by-day account of the Battle of Crete. The museum also covers the 1821 Hellenic revolution.

.MAJOR EDUCATIONAL & RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS

University of Crete: A multi-disciplinary, research-oriented institution. The seat of the University is the Gallos Campus in Rethymno, where the Schools of Philosophy, Education, Social, Economic & Political Sciences are located.

The Institute for Mediterranean Studies (IMS): It belongs to the research units of the Foundation for Research and Technology, Hellas (FORTH). The IMS is the only FORTH centre which deals with the human and social sciences.


TO DO & TO GO