Its Old Town is the smallest of the three large Venetian castles of Crete and the most graceful. A picturesque daisie of medieval alleys, monuments and old houses. Old Town landmarks are Fortezza, the Venetian Harbor and the Old Town Square.
The Monastery of Arkadi
The Monastery of Arkadi is perhaps the most famous monastery in Crete, and the Holocaust of 1866 contributed to it. However, its location and impressive architecture make it even more special. Its establishment dates to the early 16th century, although the current form of the complex is the result of its renovation and conversion into a cohort in 1572, as well as the interventions it received during the Turkish occupation. The impressive two-story temple dedicated to Saints Constantine & Helen and the Transfiguration of the Savior, one of the most important architectural monuments of the Cretan Renaissance, was completed in 1587, and on the façade of the western 16 arches by the 17th century. From the 16th century onwards the monastery was an important spiritual center and a center for copying manuscripts, and there was also a gold-embroidered art workshop. In November 1866, Turkish troops narrowly besieged the monastery in which 700 women children and 260 Cretan warriors were imprisoned, after the abbot refused to surrender. After a two-day siege, women children and warriors led by Konstantinos Yamboudakis gathered at the convent's barracks, set fire to it and threw it into the air, taking several Turks with them to death. This event is considered one of the most important in the history of Crete and was the reason UNESCO declared Arkadi as the European Monument of Freedom.
The Venetian Fortezza
A unique monument, one of the most prominent, trademark of the city of Rethymnon is the Venetian castle of Fortezza. It is the Venetian castle that dominates the hill of Paleokastro, in the heart of the city and is famous for being the largest Venetian castle ever built. In ancient times on this hill was built the acropolis of ancient Rithymna and the temple of Artemis, which are not saved. After the plundering of the city by the Algerian pirate Uluj Ali in 1571, the need for a good fortification arose, and in 1573 this magnificent pentagonal fortress began to be built, according to all modern methods of fortification of the time and designed so that it could deliver. a refuge for the entire population of the city. Its facilities, many of which are preserved to this day, included barracks, a church, a hospital, warehouses, the Councilors' residence, the Rector's residence, and a luxurious and magnificent building on the main square of the fortress. There, in the fortress of Fortezza, the Rethymnon Renaissance Festival takes place in the summer and as an attraction and venue for cultural events, it is a major attraction for Rethymnon visitors.
The monastery of Preveli
The famous Preveli Monastery overlooking the Libyan Sea consists of two separate building complexes, the "Back" and the "Lower Monastery", about 2 km away.
Many legends relate to the founding of the monastery found during the Venetian occupation, like most Cretan monasteries. At that time there were two larger monasteries and many smaller ones, which needed to be united to create the great Preveli Monastery.
The "Lower Monastery" is the first one we meet when we arrive from Rethymnon and is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Today it is completely desert. The "Back Monastery" is dedicated to Saint John the Theologian.
The Katholikon is located in the center of the small enclosure and is surrounded by the monks' cells, literally split into rocks, due to the slope of the ground. level of buildings lower than the first.
Among the most precious relics of the monastery is the "Holy Cross", which was painted by Igoumenia Abraham in which there is a piece of Holy Wood and which they tried to capture in vain, "by the time of the conquerors, the image of Christ". Preveli (1750) and the icon of St. John the Theologian (13th century), with the emblem of the Evangelist, the eagle on the left, and the Holy Spirit on the right.
The Venetian harbor
The Venetian harbor in the prefecture of Rethymnon consists of the old port and the jetty with the lighthouse and is in the northeast part of the old town of Rethymnon.
The Venetian harbor, in front of it was the jetty that was once protected and built by the Venetians in the 13th century, was the rationale for Venetian galleys and later for Turkish warships. It has now become a mooring place for small fishing boats, creating a gorgeous evening light with the light reflected on the surface of the sea.
Along the Venetian harbor around the city of Rethymnon, many Venetian buildings house fish taverns, bars and cafes that are crowded in the summer. From there, small boats depart for day trips to the neighboring beaches of the area. Opposite, at the edge of the jetty maintained in perfect condition standing untouched by the waves of the Cretan sea, there is the Rethymnon lighthouse which is a reconstruction of the Ottoman period.
Today in the Venetian harbor of Rethymno is an ideal walk for romantics, and comprises mostly of fishing boats and yachts.
The Rimondi Fountain, built in 1626 by the A. Rimondi city rector. This project covered part of the city's water needs. located in the present-day Platanus Square and in the center of the Venetian city. It consists of three troughs in which water runs from three lion-shaped taps. Three barbed columns crowned by Corinthian capitals support a Latin inscription. During the Turkish occupation, the fountains preferred to be indoors. Thus, a dome was added, part of which is preserved today.
An expanse of about 50 acres awaits you to experience fruit trees from all over the world, herbs, medicinal and ornamental plants in a different park, where the terrain and the microclimate of the area make it a paradise for hundreds of plants and animals!
Amidst the colorful, vibrant landscape stands a burnt-out centuries-old olive tree as a memory and reference point to the sad fire of 2004, the history and origins of the park.
Characteristic of the beach are the large caves on the rocks of the beach. Behind the left (and west) end, there are many rocky caves in unique formations. There, the endangered Mediterranean Monk Seal finds refuge. Umbrellas are offered at this unknown beach and there is a small canteen. The only problem you can deal with is the high waves due to the frequent north winds.
Geropotamos is located about 18 km east of Rethymnon and 3 km west of Panormos. It is named after the great river of Geropotamos that flows into the beach, after being united with Mylopotamos, and gives its name throughout the province of Mylopotamos. The small beach is sandy and clear of water, and next to the beach the river forms a lake. It is organized with umbrellas and a canteen. Despite its easy access, it is always calm and generally not very crowded. However, the orientation of the beach makes it vulnerable to the frequent north winds that sweep the coast of Northern Crete during the summer months.
The Kotsifou Canyon starts from the village of Kanevos Agios Vasilios and ends north of Plakias, on the beach of which the Kotsifou stream flows. At its point of departure it is relatively narrow with a width of about 10 m. which gradually increases and the canyon becomes 600 m wide. Its total length is about 1,800 m, and the nearly vertical slopes in some places reach 500 m. Inside the gorge, and next to the paved road that crosses the upper part of the gorge, there is the small church of Agios Nikolaos, built in a rocky cavity.
Mount Idi (Psiloritis)
Psiloritis has been a sacred mountain since the Minoan era, and many myths are associated with it. In the Ideon Andro (cave at 1495 m above sea level) Zeus was brought up by the Kouretes and the nymph Amalthea, hidden by his father Saturn who swallowed his children considering the threats to him.
In the forests of Psiloritis also lived the good demons Fingers, which according to mythology, sprang from the fingers of Zeus' mother Rea, when she had her fingers on the ground to withstand the pains of childbirth.
The worship of Psiloritis continued throughout history, and during the Christian years it was built on top of a small chapel, the Holy Cross. On the eve of the Day of the Holy Cross (September 14th) believers from all over Crete climb to the top of Psiloritis and spend the night there, so that the next morning, they will attend the liturgy in the small church.
Rethymnon Archaeological Museum
Its exhibits come from various excavations in the county and represent all periods, from the Neolithic period to the years of Roman rule. Among the most important exhibits of the Museum are the shrine depicting a hunting scene, the Minoan goddess figurine, the marble statue of Aphrodite, the violin-shaped marble figurine from the Geranium Cave, the Ethmopoxidae, an earthenware stele, and other valuable findings.
Contemporary Art Museum of Crete
The Museum of Contemporary Art of Crete has been a blend of the old Municipal Art Gallery "L. Kanakakis ”(founded in 1992) and the Center for Contemporary Art Creation (founded in 1995) and has a permanent collection of about 500 works by contemporary Greek artists covering a wide range of contemporary Greek visual reality from 1950 to the present. Visitors will enjoy samples of art, from abstraction and geometry to neo-expressionism, new representationalism, minimalism, object-space, sculpture, fitting, conceptual art, photography, and even the creation of computer-generated works.
Historical and Folk Art Museum
In the old town of Rethymnon a Venetian mansion has opened its rooms and houses the historic and folklore museum of the city. The Venetian building of the Foundation, a historic preserved 17th century monument, offers the ideal space for the presentation of its collections while the Museum's operation contributes to the protection of the monument.
The exhibition spaces of the Museum (permanent exhibition) extend to five (5) rooms and include mainly objects of traditional crafts and folk art. The aim of the Rethymnon Historical and Folklore Museum is to develop into a modern research and educational center for the preservation of Cretan Folk Culture, while working with the international community to discover and promote the common values of the peoples' heritage.