Rethymno: A journey to History and Multiculturalism
Rethymno is situated on the north coast of Crete. The city is inhabited since 1600 BC; its history and cultural identity has been influenced from the Turkish, Arabic and Venetian domination. A visit in the historic center offers the ascertainment that Rethymno is a multicultural, colourful and well-preserved city.
Starting from the Old Town, one of the best-preserved cities of the Renaissance that is located in the heart of modern Rethymno, you will admire the oriental characteristics of the Turkish period as well as the Renaissance-style Venetian architecture. Meeting the small harbour in the Old Town, you will be impressed of the 13th-century Venetian mole which was used as its protection. This is the ideal starting-point for a visit to the Fortezza, the Venetian fortress of Rethymno (16th century), that is located in the centre of the Old Town.
Rethymno is a region with historical monasteries and cathedrals, beautiful museums, amazing streets, shops and architecture. Its quiet, idyllic villages as well as its long, sandy beaches offer some trouble-free moments, inviting visitors to come back again and again.
THE IDA RANGE – PSILORITIS
Mount Ida, well-known as Psiloritis is located in Rethymno region. At 2.456m, it is the highest mountain of the island that fascinates its visitors with its rough beauty. According to the legend, on its slopes lies Ideon Antron cave, in which Zeus was born. Psiloritis range hosts many more caves, like Kamares which is of utmost archaeological importance. However, only two caves are opened to visitors: Sfendoni (Zoniana) and Gerontospilios (Melidoni). Psiloriti’s summit, called Timios Stavros has the highest topographic prominence in Greece. Its chapel marks the island’s highest summit (2.456m).
The scenery of Psiloriti’s landscape is fabulous: Deep gorges, small plateaus, impressive karst formations and small villages on the foothills compose the pieces of this natural puzzle. Visitors of the mountain can experience the authentic Cretan tradition in Anogia, the major town of Milopotamos province.
In the past, Psiloritis was covered by dense trees, residues of which are still visible. The most important of these areas is the oak forest of Rouvas by Zaros.
A natural park which includes Mount Ida is a member of UNESCO’s Global Geoparks Network.
MONI ARKADIOU (ARKADI MONASTERY )
The famous Orthodox monastery is located at an altitude of almost 500m., in the foothills of Psiloritis mountain, 23 km away from the city of Rethymno. The current church dates back to the 16th century and its architecture reveals a great impact of the Renaissance. As early as the 16th century, the monastery was a place for science and art with a school and a rich library. Moni Arkadiou has been a non-stop inseparable part of the Cretan history during the last eight centuries. It played an active role in the Cretan resistance of Ottoman rule and became the symbol of self-sacrifice and freedom during the revolution of 1866-1869, particularly since the besieged inhabitants sacrificed themselves rather than to surrender to the Ottomans. Nowadays, the breathtaking buildings of the Monastery belong in UNESCO’s World Heritage list, as the European Freedom Monument. The sacred banner of the revolution, as well as other impressive relics are exhibited in the Monastery museum
74100 Arkadi, Rethymno – tel.: +30 28310 83136
MONASTERY OF PREVELI
It is situated 37km away from Rethymno city, on the western hillside of Kourtaliotis gorge. Monastery of Preveli is consisted of two main building complexes, the Lower Monastery of Saint John the Baptist that is deserted and the Rear Monastery of Saint John the Theologian which is at a distance of 2km and remains opened to its visitors. The earliest date related to the monastery is the year 1594, and it is engraved on one of its bells. Monastery’s history is glorious due to the leading involvement of its monks in the national endeavourers for freedom.
74060 Preveli, Rethymno – tel.: +30 28320 31246
The archaeological site of Ancient Eleftherna is located at a height of 380m, on the serrated hump of mount Psiloritis. Findings of great importance referring to several eras that include Pre-historic, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods were brought to light by archaeologists from the University of Crete since 1984. A necropolis of the Geometric and Archaic era lies in the west side of the hill, forming an impressive spectacle for visitors of the ancient site.
The Museum of Ancient Eleftherna that is situated in the archaeological park of Eleutherna, houses artifacts found in the nearby archaeological site and the necropolis of Orthi Petra. The significant exhibition within the Museum is supported by the newest technological equipment. At the entrance you will find touch screens installed with all the important information for the visitors.
Mylopotamos, 74100 Rethymno – tel.: +30 28340 92501
Located at the old Town in the basilica of Agios Fragiskos (St Francis), the Archaeological Museum of Rethymno belongs to the national Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities Conservancy. Its collections represent periods from the Neolithic until the Roman times. The Museum’s halls host findings from caves, settlements, and cemeteries of the Minoan Era as well as objects from the Geometric, Archaic, Classic, Hellenistic and Roman period, brought to light by archaeologists during various excavations in ancient cities of the area.
St. Francis Church, Fortezza, 74100 Rethymno – tel.: +30 28310 54668
The Museum is housed in a very impressive building, the “Igoumenio”, which is the sacred precinct of Mastaba, with 9 domes and 13 cells, surrounded by beautiful plants. Inside, the visitor goes on a historic journey of 300 million years, through the paleontological changes in Crete. Its collections include fossils from Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic sea deposits in Crete, along with texts, drawings and maps. The Museum operates as part of the Goulandris Natural History Museum in Crete.
Temple of Mastaba, 74100 Rethymno – tel.: +30 28310 23083
MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART OF CRETE
The Museum is located under the Venetian wall and the Archaeological Museum. In 1970’s the Municipality of Rethymnon bought it and in 1992 it became a Gallery, under the name of Lefteris Kanakakis who donated approximately 50 of his artworks.
Today the place is Crete’s Museum of Contemporary Art, of high standards, exhibiting old and new examples of Greek artists. It houses a permanent collection of approximately 500 works (oil, drawings, aquarelles) of various contemporary Greek artists covering a wide range of the contemporary Greek art world from 1950. The collection includes adequate samples of art from abstraction and geometry to neo-expressionism, new representation arts, minimalism, object in space, sculpture etc.
32 Mesologiou Street, 741 31 Rethymno – tel.: +30 28310 52530