Rethymno

The prefecture of Rethymno is situated in heart centre of the island. The prefecture stretches from Chania district (the White Mountains) and to Psiloritis Mountain with borderline to the prefecture of Lasithi.

The prefecture of Rethymno covers an area of 1.496 km2 and has a landscape with variation and surprises. The northern part of the prefecture is plain and green, the highland with the mountains and its spectacular gorges, fertile valleys, picturesque villages surrounded by olive and pine trees. The southern part with its rocky coast and beautiful beaches, charming fishing villages and deep blue sea, entices thousands of tourist who visit the area. They return again and again.

Rethymno is also the name on the capital city of the prefecture.
A historic important town with a soul of mystery and romance situated in the middle of the two other main towns on the island (Chaniá and Heraklion).Retymno is a perfect starting point for exploring Crete and offers may interesting sights like, the well preserved Venetian castle Fortezza, which is a centre for culture events, like concerts and theatres during the summer months, the small and romantic Venetian harbour makes you feel you’re straight inside in a movie about the pirates, the charming old town with classic architecture and a labyrinth with narrow streets.

The area around the Rethymno town is a very popular tourist destination, more than two kilometre Beach Boulevard, with all categories of hotels and tourist facilities. Other popular tourist areas around Rethymno town are: Perivolia, Missiria, Platanes, Adele

Although less frequented by visitors than its neighbors to the west and east, Rethymno has a lot to offer, especially for lovers of history and traditional life.

Well supplied with both archaeological sites and a beautiful capital city with Medieval romance, the prefecture of Rethymno also has beautiful mountain villages that keep to traditional ways of life.

Explore the Forteza (fortress) of Rethymno; the Minoan palace sites of Phaistos, Agia Triada; the beaches on the south coast; but also the villages in the northern interior, like Margarites, where the locals craft lovely traditional pottery and sell it from their houses at unlikely prices, and once there, combine your visit with a stop at the site of Ancient Eleutherna. Graced with a charming waterfront with restaurants and cafes, the city of Rethymno is a pleasant place to relax before exploring Mt. Psiloritis or heading down south to explore the history of the heart of Crete.

Rethtmno City

Rethymno is an historic important city, situated in between the two other main cities on the island (Hania and Iraklio). Reputed to be the academic centre on Crete , it has departments of the Crete University situated in the city. Rethymno is a popular tourist destination, with a good beach and the old town that has many restored and beautiful buildings from the Venetian period.

Rèthymno is reputed to be the intellectual centre on Crete; it has two departments of the Crete University situated in the city. Rèthymno lies between Heraklion and Chania. The city has retained some of its old charm despite new buildings, the old town has many restored and well looked after buildings from the Venetian period. Walking around the old town is a delight, many small streets and courtyards richly adorned with flowers, makes modern day life seem a million years away.

Down by the harbour lies the impressive Fortessa, which was built to defend the city from pirates, in the summer there are held concerts inside the fort. The small harbour where the local fishermen tie up their boats us surrounded by restaurants and cafes.

Ferries from the Greek mainland arrive on the other side of the harbour wall on which stands an impressive restored 13th century lighthouse. The Archaeological Museum lies across the main entrance to the Fortessa, its exhibits include artefacts from he Stone age and the Minoan period. Also their are items of jewellery from the Bronze Age plus many fine examples of pottery and glass ware.

Along the beach boulevard, there are all categories of hotels and tourist facilities. Other popular tourist areas around Rethymno town are Perivolia, Missiria, Platanes and Adele. Archaeological discoveries show that area has been since the late Minoan times been a place of habitation. Rethymno developed into an important city-state during the 3 rd and 4 th centuries.

Throughout the Ventian occupation 1210-1645, Rethymno became a major trading port with the export of olive oil and wine. The Venetians built a new harbour and fortified the city against threats from the Turks. Despite these fortifications, the infamous pirate Barbarossa managed to raid the city in 1538. Learning from this, the Venetians built a new fortress on the hill, nevertheless it could not defend the city from the Turks and after a 22-day siege in 1646, the city fell.

The Turks were not popular and many of the citizens joined the resistance movement against them, resulting in massive reprisals in 1821. In 1897, the Turks were defeated, and the city liberated. Since that time, through wars and peace, Rethymno has developed into a thriving tourist resort and a commercial centre for the region.

Places of Interest in the City:

The Old Town : Take a walk around the old town early in the morning, and explore the many small lanes and courtyards richly adorned with flowers, it makes modern day life seem a million years away.

One should take care when exploring the town, as it easy to lose ones way in the network of lanes and narrow alleyways, but don’t panic, there is always a taverna or cafe nearby where you can ask for directions, or stay and take refreshments before venturing out into the streets again. In the old town are numerous tavernas, restaurants and small hotels also an array of shops catering for the tourist.

The small harbour where the local fishermen tie up their boats us surrounded by restaurants and cafes.Ferries from the Greek mainland arrive on the other side of the harbour wall on which stands an impressive restored 13th century lighthouse.

The Ventian Fortress: This impressive Fortress, built by the Venetians to defend the city from pirates and invaders, stands on the hill overlooking the harbour and the surrounding coastline. Entry is through the main entrance on the eastern side of the fort, inside, are the ruins of the troop’s quarters, storerooms and ammunition arsenal also the ruins of a church. Today, the fort hosts open-air concerts during the summer months. Below the fort, on the harbour wall stands an impressive restored 13th century lighthouse. Around the small harbour are tavernas and cafes where one can sit and watch the local fishermen in their small boats unload the days catch.

The Archaeological Museum : housed it what was once a prison is opposite the main entrance to the Fortress, its exhibits include artefacts from the Stone Age and the Minoan period. In addition, there are items of jewellery from the Bronze Age plus many fine examples of pottery and glassware. Main attractions are burial caskets (Larnakes) from the Minoan period and an old coin collection.

The Historical and Folk Art Museum : housed in a restored 17 th century Venetian building has on display items from the regions rural lifestyle, costumes, farm implements and textiles.

Rimondi Fountain: built in 1588 and later remodelled in 1626, the fountain comprises of lion heads and Corinthian capitals, spouting water into a basin. Around the fountain cafes line the street, and are meeting place for tourists and residents alike.

The Venetian Loggia: built in the 16 th century the house was a meeting place for the rich Venetians of the city.

Nerantzes Mosque: the building with its three domes was originally a Franciscan church, today used as a music school and concert theatre.

Kara Musa Pasha Mosque: this restored mosque with its gardens and Turkish cemetery is now offices for the preservation of Byzantines buildings council.

Porta Guora: the ”Great Gate”is the remains of the great defensive wall that surrounded the city, the symbol of Venice “the Lion of St. Mark” that once stood on top of the gate is now on display in the Archaeological Museum.

Platia 4 Mártiron: (Place of the Four Martyrs), across from the city park commemorates the tragedy at Arkadiou Monastery in November 1866.

Towns & Villages

AGIA GALINI

Agia Galini: this former fishing village on the shores of the Messara Gulf has developed into a popular tourist resort. Hotels and apartments now crowd around this once picturesque village. Along the beachfront cafes and tavernas compete for the tourist trade. The area has an average water temperature of 18˚and 340 days of sunshine, and is ideal base to visit the ancient city of Phaestos and surrounding countryside. The nearby beaches of Previli ( Palm Beach ), Agios Giorgios and Agios Pavlos can be reached by taxi boat from Agia Galini.

PLAKIAS

This village on the south coast was once a quiet fishing village, popular with the independent traveller. Not yet taken over by the major tourist operators, it remains a relaxing place to visit. It has good beach, and a few good tavernas. From here, you can visit Preveli Beach and Moni Preveli, Preveli beach is one of Crete ’s most popular beaches. Between the village and the Preveli beach there are several secluded coves that are popular with nudists.

ANOGIA

This is the last village on the road to the Ida cave. The women of the village still keep their skill in weaving alive; here you can buy all manner of covers and embroidery. Anogia is a good place to start on a foot tour of the Psiloritis mountain range. The villagers have an independent and rebellious nature; during the war, the villagers played an active part in the resistance movement.

They hid allied soldiers and had the audacity to kidnap a high-ranking German officer, General Kreipe. The Germans responded by slaughtering all the men in the village.

Modern day Anogia sustains itself on a thriving tourist industry and sheep farming, the area is also known for it cheeses and wine. The area has also fostered many good musicians, amongst others the late Nikos Xylouris, his brother Psarandonis who continues the family tradition of playing music, Georgos Tramoundanis and Vasilis Skoulas play to audiences in Greece and around the world.

Anogia situated on the slopes of Mt. Psiloritis, is divided two half’s, the lower half is where the shops catering for the tourist are, around the small square are cafes where one can sit and watch the villagers go about their daily routines. The upper half is mainly accommodation. In July, the Yakinthia Festival starts with music, dance and ends with a large feast. In the mountain is the Ida Cave, and according to legend it is where the God Zeus was raised after being born in the Dikti Cave in Lasithi prefecture.

In 1884, archaeologists found over 3000 items that were presumably offerings to the gods, among them were gold and silver items.

If you are fortunate to be in the village when a wedding takes place, you are in for a treat. People come far around to experience the festivities. On the day of the wedding friends and family, escort the groom to the bride’s house, accompanied by music and the sound of gunfire. On reaching the brides house they receive food and refreshments amid more gunfire. Then they go to the church for the wedding, and after the ceremony, the fun starts. The village square is the stage for dancing and music, which will continues until sunrise. So if in Crete and you hear of a wedding about to take place in the village try to go there, you will have a memory for life.

AXOS

Axos: is a quiet village during the day, but in the evenings it comes alive, in the local tavernas Cretan folklore events take place for the tourist.

MELIDONI

Melidoni: is near to Anogia and in the cave here another tragedy occurred during the rebellion against the Turks. In the cave over 300 Cretans sought refuge here, the Turks ordered to come out, they refused, so the Turks threw burning materials through a hole in the top of the cave, and resulted in the death of the Cretans by asphyxiation.

ZONIANA

Zoniana: to the south of Anogia towards Perama is where you can explore the Sendoni Cave . The cave one of the best on the island has many stalactites and rock formations to admire, a walkway makes exploring a bit easier. Resistance fighters used the cave as a safe haven from the Turks. The cave, according to legend got its name after a resistance fighter or a local bandit who used the cave as one of his lairs.

BALI

Bali : is 38km from Rethymno a popular resort with five sandy coves nestled among promontories and hills. The beaches get crowded in the summer, but it is ideal place for watersports and diving.

MARGARITES

Margarites: once famous since ancient times foe its pottery workshops that produced everything from household items to the very large storage jars (pithoi) used by the Minoans. Today only, a few potters remain to carry on the tradition of the village. The village gets busy with coach loads of tourists in the morning, by the afternoon life in the village returns to normal and it is ideal to relax in one of the tavernas and admire the view over the countryside.

PARNORMOS

Panormos: is a small resortnear Rethymno, though the beach tends to awash with flotsam, it offers a more relaxed atmosphere from the busier resorts in the region. The village is built upon a site of an earlier settlement fro the 1 st century AD. A few remains from later developments are still visible, a Genoese castle on the harbour.

EPISKOPI

Episkopi: 23km south-west of Rethymno Episkopi is a traditional village where even today you can see the locals wearing traditional black clothes. The village is good place to experience the traditional Cretan way of life.

AGYROPOULIS

Argyroupolis: is 25km south-west of Rethymno, this delightful town that comprises of two villages. The town, built on the remains of the ancient city of Lappa , founded by the Dorians, is an ideal place to escape the heat of the city and resorts. Mountain springs run through aqueducts, seep from the stonework to the lower village to create a natural air conditioning.

If you find the heat of the resorts too much, then take a trip to this delightful town which comprises of two villages. 25km south-west of Rèthymno. Mountain springs run through aqueducts, seep from the stonework to the lower village to create a natural air conditioning. Relax and have something to eat at one of the tavernas shaded by trees and vegetation. The town is built on the remains of the ancient city of Lappa, so there is plenty to explore.

In the upper village you will find the church of Agios Ioannis built in the 17th century. The main street will take you past the Roman gate with the inscription ‘Omnia Mundi Fumus et Umbra’ (All Things in This World are Smoke and Shadow). Further along a street on the right leads you down to a 3rd century-bc marble water reservoir. Back on the main street and in the same direction past the apricot trees you will find a well preserved 1st century BC Roman mosaic floor, comprising of circa 7000 pieces in 6 colours. To the north of the upper town, a path leads you to a Roman Necropolis with hundreds of tombs cut into the hillside. Further along the path you come to a plane tree reported to be over 2000 years old, it is so big a path runs right through it.

In the lower village you will find the tavernas around the springs. At the bottom the village a path takes you to a Roman bath and a wooden fulling machine, which was used to thicken cloth by beating the moist cloth. Close by is St. Mary’s Church built on the site of an old temple devoted to Neptune.

Relax and have something to eat at one of the tavernas shaded by trees and vegetation. In the upper village, you will find the church of Agios Ioannis built in the 17th century. The main street will take you past the Roman gate with the inscription ‘Omnia Mundi Fumus et Umbra’ (All Things in This World are Smoke and Shadow).

Further along a street on the right leads a well-preserved 1st century BC Roman mosaic floor, comprising of circa 7000 pieces in six colours. Nearby is a 3 rd century BC marble water reservoir with seven arches. To the north of the upper town, a path leads you to a Roman Necropolis with hundreds of tombs cut into the hillside. Further, along the path you come to a plane tree reported to be over 2000 years old, it is so big a path runs right through it. In the lower village, you will find tavernas built around the natural springs.

Taking the path from the village leads you to a Roman Bath, also a water-powered fulling machine made of wood, used in the treating of cloth after weaving by beating the wet cloth to expand the fibres to make it feel thicker. Close by on the site of a temple dedicated to Neptune , stands St. Mary’s Church.

SPILLI

Spilli: is a charming mountain village with cobbled streets and equally charming houses.Spilli gets tourists by the busload on their way to the south coast, but in the evening, the village returns to the locals. Taking pride of place in the village is a Venetian fountain with water pouring from 19 lion’s heads, reputed to be the finest water in Crete . Spilli is a good place from which you can explore the surrounding area. 10km from Spilli along a dirt track, you come to the village of Patsos , in a cave above the gorge you will find the Church of Agios Antonios . This was and still is an important sanctuary for pilgrims who come here on January 17. Heading towards Plakias you will pass through the Koutaliotis Gorge, 8km before Plakias there is a turnoff that leads to Preveli beach and Moni Preveli. Heading towards Plakias you will pass through the Koutaliotis Gorge, 8km before Plakias there is a turnoff which leads to Preveli beach and Moni Prevli.

AMARI VALLEY

Situated to the southeast of Rethymno, and between the mountains of Psiloritis and Kedros. In a setting of rural tranquillity, amid olive groves, almond and cherry trees, about 40 villages dot the valley. It is an ideal place to discover rural Crete .

Visit the Church of the Panagia in the village of Thronos . Inside there are some remarkable 14th century frescoes. At Ano Meros there is a memorial dedicated to the heroes of the resistance movement.
The village of Meronas, here is a church originates from the 14 th century, inside is a beautiful 14 th century fresco.

The village of Gerakari , which is famous for its cherries, in the spring it is especially beautiful when the cherry trees blossom. Many more villages with interesting churches and history are there for you to discover

In the village of Gerakari, you can buy fresh or bottled cherries and maybe taste the cherry brandy for which this area is famous for.

The village of Amari here you will find the oldest frescoes on Crete they are in the church of Agia Anna. And from the top of the Venetian tower, splendid views over the area are worthwhile. The Amari Valley is a great area to go walking and offers a wild and unspoilt nature, and offers an insight into the Cretan way of life past and present.

Place of interest

Rèthymno prefecture is the smallest of all the islands prefectures, to the east lies the White Mountain (Lefka Ori).To the west lays the Amari valley with it, s small villages which seem to have stood still in time.Outside of the main town of Rethymnon on the north coast are beautifull beaches. The south coast is more rugged here; you can find small bays which are only accesible by foot. A visit to the Monastries of Arkadi and Preveli should not be missed. The villages of Agia Galini and Preveli which cater for the tourists is also situated on the south coast.
Not so many kilometres away you will find the historic Arkardi monastery and the beautiful Amari valley with a breathtaking view and traditional villages.

Moni Arkadiou

Moni Arkadiou built in the 16 th century on a site of an earlier monastery is still a working monastery, situated about 23km from Rethymno. On entering the monastery, you see a church built in 1587, with its impressive façade with its triple bell tower and Corinthian columns. There is a small museum next to the church with displays of the monastery’s history.

The monastery played an important though tragic role in the uprising that was gathering momentum against the Turks. In 1866, over 900 men some of them resistance fighters along with women and children sought refuge in the monastery. A large Turkish military force under the command of Mustafa Pasha, attacked the monastery. After a two-day siege, the Turks entered the monastery; the refugees knowing the Turks would spare no mercy, decided that death was more honourable than to surrender to the opposing forces. On the instructions of Abbot Gabriel, they ignited the gunpowder barrels stored in the cellars of the monastery.

The ensuing explosion killed the refugees and a large number of Turks, a little girl was the only survivor, she lived the rest of her days in a nearby village and died of old age.

The news of this sacrifice echoed around the world, but it would take another 30 years before Crete could throw down the yoke of Turkish oppression. On November 8 each year, which is a national day of remembrance of this tragedy, hundreds of Cretans gather at the monastery to pay homage to the martyrs.

On the southern side, the traditional Cretan village Spilli, spectacular gorges like Kourtaliotiko and Koutsifou, Preveli Beach (palm beach) , the village and tourist resort Plakias, the picturesque,

Bali

The resort is 38km from Rethymnon has a stunning coastline, best seen from a boat 5 small bays are strung out along the shore. The beaches can get crowed in the summer.

Episkopi

23km south-west of rethymnon Episkopi is a traditional village where even today you can see the locals wearing traditional black clothes. The village is good place to experience the traditional Cretan way of life.

Moni Preveli

High above the Libyan sea the monastery offers wonderful views over the southern coastline. The history of monastery is lost in the mists of time, after centuries of attacks from invaders. The Turks destroyed the monastery in 1866 after they found out it was a refuge for resistance fighters. During the Second World War, allied soldiers were hidden here, the Germans not too happy about this, came and destroyed the monastery. The church has a beautiful icon screen depicting Adam and Eve in Paradise , in the museum you can see a candelabra donated to the monastery by British soldiers after the war had ended.

Preveli Beach (Palm Beach)

Preveli beach lies at the end of Kourtaliotiko ravine, it is best to take a boat trip to the beach, as the only other way is down a rather steep path. The beach is also known as the Palm Beach, because of the palm trees which grow along the banks of the Megaloptamos river which runs into the sea. The beach can be crowed in the summer bit out of season it is a idyllic spot to relax.

Amari Valley

Amari Valley : If you hire a car, you can explore the Amari Valley , situated to the southeast of Rethymno, and between the mountains of Psiloritis and Kedros. In a setting of rural tranquillity, amid olive groves, almond and cherry trees, about 40 villages dot the valley. It is an ideal place to discover rural Crete .

Visit the Church of the Panagia in the village of Thronos . Inside there are some remarkable 14th century frescoes. At Ano Meros there is a memorial dedicated to the heroes of the resistance movement.
The village of Meronas, here is a church originates from the 14 th century, inside is a beautiful 14 th century fresco.

The village of Gerakari , which is famous for its cherries, in the spring it is especially beautiful when the cherry trees blossom. Many more villages with interesting churches and history are there for you to discover

In the village of Gerakari, you can buy fresh or bottled cherries and maybe taste the cherry brandy for which this area is famous for.

The village of Amari here you will find the oldest frescoes on Crete they are in the church of Agia Anna. And from the top of the Venetian tower, splendid views over the area are worthwhile. The Amari Valley is a great area to go walking and offers a wild and unspoilt nature, and offers an insight into the Cretan way of life past and present.

Psiloritis

Starting from Anogia a road swings it`s way up the Nida plain, at the end of the road there is a path which leads to the Ida cave. The Ida cave competes with the Dikta cave as to being the birth place of Zeus. The cave has been used for ceremonies for over a thousand years; artefacts found include a bronze shield from 800bc.

Anogia

This is the last village on the road to the Ida cave. The women of the village are well known for their skill in weaving, here you can buy all manner of covers and embroidery. Anogia is a good place to start on a foot tour of the Psiloritis mountain range.

Agia Galini

What once was a sleepy village on the southern coast of the island, hotels and apartments surrounded the old streets and houses. Tavernas line the seafront. Boat trips van is taken from here to the island of Paximadia where you will find good beaches to sunbathe.

Like the most of Crete the Rèthymno district is rich in charming villages, varied landscapes and aerchological sites it is impossible to see all in one trip. Welcome back.

Beaches

Previli Beach ( Palm Beach )

Preveli beach lies at the end of Kourtaliotiko ravine, it is best to take a boat from Agia Galini to the beach, as the only other way is down a rather steep path. Palm trees grow along the banks of the Megaloptamos River that runs into the sea here. The beach can be crowded in the summer, but out of season, it is an idyllic spot to relax. There are several beaches to choose from in the vicinity between Plakias and Preveli Beach . To visit the beaches at Agios Giorgios and Agios Pavlos, one must take a taxi boat from Agia Galini.

Sports

The area is ideal for trekking and there are organised tours available, with lunch included. Diving, in Greece is controlled by law, but there are opportunities at local diving schools to learn and go on diving trips. Mounting biking, tours with various degrees of difficulty are organised.

Tourist information

Tourist Information Office is on El Venizelou, Tlf. 2831 029 148open Mon-Fri 8.30am to 14.30pm . The Tourist Police have offices at the same address Tlf. 2831 028 156 open 7am to 10pm ever day.

Buses: the bus terminal is on Igoumenou Gavriil, south of Porto Guora. There are good connections to Hania and Iraklio also connections to the south coast and some of the villages in the region.

Ferries: the quay is below the fort and near the Old Town . Ferries depart and arrive from Pireaus calling in on the islands along the route.

Flights: the nearest airports are in Hania and Iraklio.

Emergency numbers: Police 100 Tourist Police 171 Ambulance 166 Fire 199

Medical Care:

Rethymno Hospital Phone: 28310-27 491

Opening Hours:

Banks : 08.00 to 14.00 Monday – Friday. Shops: Mon, Wed, Sat. 09.00 – 15.00. Tue, Thu, Fri, 09.00 – 14.00 / 17.00 – 21.00. Public Offices: 08.00 – 14.00. NB. Opening times vary fromtowns and villages; in tourist areas, they have extended opening hours.

Credit Cards / Money: All major credit cards accepted, although in villages and the smaller islands cash (Euro) is the best alternative.

Electricity: 220 volts

Communication: Telephone: OTE (the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization) OTE offices are open from 08:00 to 14:00 . Kiosks and OTE offices sell phonecards that used in public phone booths. The most popular phone cards are Chrono karta, and Web & Smile that also used to access the internet. Mobile Phones coverage is about 90%. The telephone exchange is on Koundouriotou 28, during the summer there is a mobile post office east of the tourist information office.

Internet: Most towns and tourist’s resorts have one or several internet cafes where one can go online. Hotels of a higher standard may also internet access for residents. You can also check your email at Galero on Plateia Rimini, open 7am to late at night Tlf. 2831 054 345.

Postal Services: Signs denoting post offices are usually bright yellow, as are post-boxes. If you need to send a letter, there are stamp vending machines and post-boxes outside all central post offices. Opening hours 07.30 – 20.00 Mon – Fri. / 07.30 – 14.00 Sat. The main post office is on Moatsou 21 near the telephone exchange.

Diverse: the University of Crete in the city, offers courses in Modern Greek, during the month of July. If interested contact the university for details, Tlf 2831 077 278. ([email protected])

Useful Info

Hospital: 28310-27491

Taxi: 28310-24316

KTEL Rethymno (Buses): 28310-22212

Banks

National Bank
Kazantzaki – Dimokratias, Rethymno
Phone: (+30) 28310 25912

Piraeus Bank
L.Kountourioti 96, Rethymno
Phone: (+30) 28310 52445

Tourist information

Situated on the eastern end of the promenade towards Plateia Iroon. Phone: 28310 29148 or 56350

How To Get There

Take a ferry to Irakleio and the Rethymo KTEL bus from there. Rethymo does not have an airport.

 

 

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