Sights and sounds of Rethymnon
Rethymnon is the capital of the mountain bike prefecture of the same name and is situated between Heraklion (75 km to the east) and Chania (65 km to the west). It is the administrative, communications and commercial center of the prefecture with approximately 25.000 inhabitants.
Rethymno became a city during the Venetian occupation. The Venetians needed an intermediary port for their ships traveling from Chania to Heraklion. They also needed an administrative center, so Rethymnon became the third city in Crete and an important cultural center.
The small cozy town still maintains its old aristocratic appearance, with its buildings dating from the 16th century, arched doorways, stone staircases, Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains, small Venetian harbor and narrow streets. The big municipal gardens are ideal for those in search of shade and tranquility. Throughout the year various activities are organized which draw a large crowd. The Wine Festival is held there annually at the beginning of July.
- Fortezza – the largest Venetian fortress in the Mediterranean, which was build in 1573. From here you have a fantastic view over the whole of Rethymnon. During the summer months concerts, traditional dancing and theater performances are being held. Opening hours: 08.00 Hrs. – 19.00 Hrs. During “special” events (see above), the fortress will be open until 24.00 Hrs. The fortress is closed on Mondays.
- Archaeological museum – nearby the fortress. The museum is housed in the former Venetian Loggia, which was a kind of club house for the Venetian nobility. Here you will find archaeological finds from the Minoan and Roman era, including an important coin collection. Opening hours: 08.30 hrs – 15.00 Hrs. The museum is closed on Mondays.
- Various Venetian buildings – in the old town of Rethymnon. The “Rimondi” or “Megali Vrissi” fountain and the “Megali Porta” (big gate).
- Ottoman buildings – in the old town of Rethymnon. Mosque (tsami) and minaret adjacent to the Megali Porta.
Surroundings of Rethymnon:
Rethymnon is the perfect starting point for any mountain bike day trip on the island, as it is located very strategically on Crete.
- Arkadi monastery – 22 km south east of Rethymnon. This is the Cretan national symbol for their struggle for freedom. Here you will also find a small museum where various items are displayed from the resistance fighters who fought against the Ottomans.
- Margarites – 25 km east of Rethymno. The pottery village. Here you can watch the locals how they skillfully manufacture all kinds of pottery and ceramics.
- Palm beach at Preveli and the Preveli monastery – 34 km south of Rethymnon. Relax on one of the most beautiful beaches of Crete or visit the monastery which played a big part in many uprisings against anyone who tried to conquer the island.
- Anogia – 51 km east of Rethymno. The highest mountain village of Crete. Famous for its weaving art and hospitality.
- Imvros gorge – 52 km south west of Rethymnon. You can hike (8 km) the little sister gorge of the Samaria.
- Samaria gorge – 75 km south west of Rethymno. The longest gorge in Europe! Thousands of visitors come to Crete every year just to walk the 18 km and to boast afterwards: I did it!