Rethymno is Crete’s third city in importance and it’s one of the best day trips you can organize during your stay in the capital of the island, Heraklion. There are several things you can do on a day in the area, such as visiting the magnificent old town, with the old mosques, unique Cretan Renaissance architecture and magnificent Fortezza, Rethymno’s famous landmark.
Rethymno is home to one of the best-maintained old towns on the island. A walk along the many alleys of the city will be a good excuse to discover aristocratic houses dating back to the sixteenth century, the times when the Venetians ruled over the island. Among the most important Venetian buildings, it’s worth paying a visit to the Venetian Harbor, as well to Rethymno’s 9-meter tall Lighthouse.
Sit at one of Rethymno’s seaside cafés and enjoy the view and the atmosphere of the pretty seaside promenade.
An important historical site in Rethymno is Rimondi Fountain, which you can access from the sea walking up to Platanos Square. The Venetian fountain dates to the 1626 and it still bears the characteristic Lions of Saint Mark as well as some inscriptions in Latin. The coat of arms of the Rimondi Family is still engraved in the fountain. During your stop here, do not forget to drink a few sips of water… they say it’s a must if you want to return to Crete.
Not far from the Venetian harbor, it’s possible to reach the Fortezza, the wonderful Rethymno’s fortress built to defend the city against the pirate incursions and the Turkish threat. Unfortunately, the city (and the whole island) finally fell to the Ottoman empire, which ruled on Crete since the end of the 1600s until 1898.
Testimony of the Turkish domination is exceptionally visible in Rethymno’s City architectures. Several Venetian mansions were remodeled according to the Turkish style and still portray beautiful wooden facades and typical harem balconies.
The Turkish imprint is also evident in the different mosques and minarets still standing in the old town. The most impressive of them belonging to Neratzes mosque, is now a music school thanks to the magnificent acoustics of the domed building.