City map of Rethymnon
To see : venetian harbor and lighthouse, Venetian fort, chapels, cisterns, mosques, minarets, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman remains, museums, Venetian fountain...
All streets in Rethymnon lead to the Square of the Four Martyrs, just outside the Porta Guora. Behind this gate is the old town, with its pedestrian streets, Venetian and Ottoman remains, and, more recently, restaurants, bars and shops for tourists.
If you are staying in the city, leave the shutters and windows of your room open so that you can wake up early and enjoy the fresh breeze and the beautiful colours of the dawn. At this time of day, the city is wonderfully welcoming as it awakens from its slumber, and the only people in the Venetian harbour are the few fishermen mending their nets and the tavern owners sweeping their floors.
Take a walk around the harbour and then sit down at a café-bar to enjoy a good breakfast or a simple cup of coffee.
The harbour has changed very little since the Venetians built it in 1300 in the hope of protecting their galleys. The lighthouse, the cobbled waterfront area where people walk and the many houses overlooking the harbour date from the time of Venetian rule.
After the Venetian port, and while it is still early, visit the Venetian fortress, the famous Fortezza. It opens its doors at 8.30 am and until 10 am very few visitors come to break the silence.
Apart from the walls and bastions, which are very well preserved, there is not much to see in the fortress. However, it is worth walking along the wall and the embrasures, and taking a trip back in time to about 350 years ago, when the raging Turks attacked the fortress and the Venetians defended it.
Just in front of the Fortezza Gate you will see a large stone building. It used to be a Turkish prison, but since 1989 it houses the Archaeological Museum of Rethymnon, probably the most beautiful and best organised in Crete.
On the outside, the building has retained its original imposing appearance, but inside it has been very carefully modified to showcase the archaeological treasures on display. Statuettes, jewellery, weapons, tools and pottery from the Neolithic period; ritual axes, seal stones, gold jewellery, stone coffins and statuettes from the Minoan Kingdom; and glass vessels, pottery, statuettes, coins and statues from the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods.
If you don't get tired of this pleasant little museum, there is still the Historical and Folklore Museum, which brings together with great care and sensitivity hundreds of objects of folk art, textiles, old photographs, musical instruments, traditional tools and other objects of everyday life, all displayed in a lively manner of Cretan folk art and crafts.
A few steps further on is Petichaki Square, which is in the heart of the city. It is home to the famous Rimondi Fountain, a Venetian fountain of historical significance with three lion heads. Water still flows from their mouths, offering the weary traveller some respite from the heat of the day. Some of the best cafés in the city are concentrated here, and from dawn until late at night they are always full of young customers. All around the square, the streets are full of shops and, more than any other place in the city, they are bustling with activity.
To the east of Petichaki Square, at the end of Palaiologou Street, is the Venetian Loggia, an elegant late 16th-century building where Venetian lords used to gather to enjoy themselves or do their business.
South of Petichaki Square, at the end of Vernardou Street, is the Nerantze Mosque. Originally a Venetian church dedicated to Santa Maria, in 1657 it was converted into a mosque and given a roof and three magnificent domes, as well as the highest minaret in the city. In 1925 the building was named 'St Nicholas' Church' - although it was never used as such - and now houses the Rethymnon Conservatory. If you pass by and hear a few notes from a practicing musician, come in and sit down. You'll enjoy quality music in a place designed to create an unusual sensation.
Whichever street you take in the old town, you will be walking through history. Dozens of Venetian and Turkish buildings and monuments and more than seven hundred Venetian facades are scattered in every alley and street corner.
Buildings that have stood the test of time and now house the restaurant where you will eat, the bar where you will spend the evening and the hotel where you will rest.
Working slowly over millions of years, Mother Nature has made this part of Crete one of the most beautiful sandy beaches on the island, extending over an area of 12 km.
Working feverishly for twenty years, the modern Homo Touristicus who inhabits the island has adorned this beach with countless hotels, restaurants, bars, discos, rooms for rent, car rental offices and other tourist businesses that he has planted along the coast.
See our page: « Rethymnon – Top 10 » and the map of Rethymnon area
Rent a car in Greece: Crete (Heraklion, Chania, Rethymnon, Agios Nikolaos) – Athens – Rhodes – Corfu – Mykonos – Santorini – Thessaloniki – Preveza/Aktion/Lefkada – Patras/Araxos – Kalamata – Paros – Syros – Kos – Naxos – Lesbos – Thassos – Zakynthos/Zante