Rethymno Sightseeing

Old Town
Rethymno is a Venetian inspired town with a Greek soul. The old town, built on the site of ancient Rithymna and part of the ancient site of the Minoan civilization, is one of the best preserved towns of the Renaissance period. Lying in the heart of the modern city, it combines the oriental features of the Turkish period with Renaissance and Venetian style architecture. The monumental aristocratic elements of the past are harmonically combined with the modern architectural point of view creating a unique atmosphere. The Great Gate, the Mosques, the Rimondi Fountain, the Venetian Loggia,  the Fortezza, the small Venetian harbor are wonderful remnants of past periods and the unique charm of the old town which,  in coexistence with the modern shops, cafes and restaurants, forms a magical picture.

Fortezza is the fortress of Rethymno Town and its walls are about 1,3 km long. Untouched by the passing of time, it is the most impressive building, built on a hill overlooking the port and the entire settlement. Fortezza was a classic fortress completely organized with residences, barracks, deposits and shelters. It was constructed in order to protect Rethymno from enemy attacks. Whether you choose the fortress for a day walk or for a romantic sunset gazing, it is surely one of the most remarkable attractions that should not be missed.

The Archeological Museum, the Ecclesiastic Museum, the Historic-Folkloric Museum the Marine Museum and the Centre of Contemporary Art attract many visitors each year with their exhibits of various findings and collections from the past and even present daily life of the Rethymnians. The Administration of Rethymno Prefecture is constantly organizing actions to stimulate the interest in the research and study of Cretan history, art and tradition.  

Arcadi Monastery
The Arcadi Monastery is one of the most important monuments and cultural highlights in entire Greece. Its building is dated back in 1866 when the island was under Turkish domination, when the population of the area demonstrated a remarkable self-sacrifice like no other in the history of Greece. The whole area is impressive with excellent views, rich flora and fauna and many routes for hiking.

Preveli Monastery
In the southern part of the prefecture of Rethymno, after the Kourtaliotis River and near the village Asomatos, you will find Preveli Monastery which is in reality 2 monasteries. It is worth visiting the little churches dedicated to Agios Ioannis and admire the great holy icons. The monastery has a historical importance since it was used as a fort and shelter when the island was under occupation. From its courtyard, an outstanding panoramic view to the Libyan Sea awaits the visitors while the whole area boasts extraordinary flora and fauna with planted palm trees offering an exotic hint to the beautiful landscape.

Preveli Palmforest
A major attraction of Rethymno Prefecture and a remarkable Natura 2000 protected site with extraordinary historical importance and natural beauty. In reality, the palm forest is extended right at the exit of Kourtaliotis Gorge to the sea and is traversed by Kourtaliotis, a river formed by the waters coming down the gorge after the winter season. The river forms a small lake right on the beachfront which, combined by the huge palms, gives the landscape a unique formation. Though the site had been partially destroyed by a devastating fire in the summer of 2010, the imposing Theophrastus palm trees have managed to regenerate within only 1 year. It seems that the damage was only superficial and that the forest’s urge to live and expand was so strong that it managed to overpass this disaster. Take the path that leads from the beach to the heart of the gorge and you will be surprised by the natural beauty and the exotic scenery of this marvel of nature!

Kourtaliotis Gorge
Kourtaliotis gorge begins at the village of Koxare and follows the direction towards Preveli area. The gorge took its name from the crackling noise of the rocks and stones when north winds hit the area during winter time. Kourtaliotis river, also known as Megapotamos which in Greek means Big River, is flowing through the gorge forming five big pools on its way and leads to a small waterfall just before the exit. This is an area that resembles a tropical lagoon, surrounded by a verdant landscape and palm trees. Where the river meets the Libyan sea, the amazing beach of Preveli opens wide offering the most idyllic natural setting.

Spili Village
A picturesque and very popular village located at 28 km south-east from Rethymno. Due to its altitude (430 m) the astonishing views and the unique vegetation constitute an extraordinary scenery worthy of the trip. The village is full of trees, fountains, springs, Byzantine churches with impressive murals and a medieval tower. The main square of Spili has a fine stone fountain, with a row of 25 stone-carved lion heads from where refreshingly cool spring water flows. Local specialties can be enjoyed in the traditional taverns of the village, and you can have your coffee in a ‘kafenion’, meaning traditional café, accompanied by locals.

Anogia is an attractive traditional mountainous village, considered by many as the most beautiful and authentic one in Crete. Located at an altitude of 750 m. on Mount Psiloritis and 50 km east of Rethymno its seclusion has contributed in the maintenance of its potent character, the old Cretan dialect and the local traditional customs and habits. The workshops which produce woven and embroidered products and the village’s cottages are worth visiting, since many of them are open to the public. The church of Agios Ioannis with the marvelous frescoes and holy icons is also a place not to be missed. The village boasts a great musical tradition and many excellent singers and ‘lyra’ players (a traditional music instrument), like the famous Nikos Xilouris, Psarantonis and Vassilis Skoulas, originate from Anogia. In mid August a cultural festival is held here and on religious celebration days various open-air feasts and concerts with traditional music attract many locals and travelers. In the narrow streets of Anogia you will discover many traditional cafes, taverns and a few accommodations while the surrounding area is ideal for walking, hiking and cycling.

Patsos Cave
Near the village of Patsos, located in a distance of 30 km from Rethymno, the homonymous cave lies hidden in the mountain region of Soros within a small picturesque canyon, the Patsos gorge. Archaeological research has brought to light evidence that the cave was a place of worship from the late Minoan till the Roman period. A small church inside the cave is built in honor of Agios Antonios. The area is ideal for a walk through the charming footpath with wooden steps and the small bridges above a small river that flows through the gorge with plane trees along its banks.

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