Region of Rethymnon. Map (Central Crete)
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The picturesque town of Rethymno, is the capital town of the province
of the same name. This province extends from the White Mountains (Lefka
Ori) to the Idi Mountains through to the borders of the provinces
of Chania and Heraklion. Rethymno is positioned on the north coast
of Crete, 80 km west from Heraklion, and 75 km east of Chania, where
the two airports of Crete are to be found, about an hour’s drive
away by car. Rethymno harbour has a direct ferry connection with the
mainland of Greece. The mediaeval old town of Rethymno, with its narrow
streets, Venetian palaces and Turkish minarets has a distinct atmosphere.
The oriental flavour of the town brings to life the ever changing
history since ancient times. Along with the numerous seemingly unlimited
sights to see and the beautiful old town, with the Venetian “Fortezza”
or fortress, the scenic harbour, and the many enticing tavernas, cafes
and restaurants with wonderful Cretan delicacies, Rethymno has one
of the most magnificent fine sandy beaches, which stretches to the
east almost as far as the eye can see. The beach, which is the longest
in Crete, continues for several kilometres, here and there en route
broken into small shingle coves where here and there one can find
the scattered tiny hamlets reminiscent of the mountain villages. Altogether
between Rethymno to the town of Prinos there are no less than 8 beaches,
which have been awarded the European Blue Flag. There is much to delight
in exploring the many different archaeological sites, monasteries,
churches, Venetian and Turkish monuments and memorials, and of course
there are archaeological, historical and folk museums, as well as
other art museums waiting to be visited. Exploring one of the many
Cretan gorges in this area, is sure to reward you with the sight of
numerous caves and little grottos. Those of you who delight in traditional
customs, will enjoy the numerous cultural festivals and traditional
days of celebration in Rethymno, where you get the opportunity to
experience a slice of Cretan life. Religious days, the seasonal times
of the year and many other reasons mostly form the basis for the regional
and public festivities. So in the middle of July you will find for
example the Cretan wine festival with its 500 year old tradition,
which lasts three weeks and is attended by thousands of people. Of
further interest, in the many outlying villages not far from Rethymno,
traditional handicrafts are still very much alive. For example, the
lovely pottery in Margarites, or the basket weaving of Mixorrouma,
the traditional stone masonry in Alfa, or the village of Anogia where
lengths of material are still woven on traditional weaving looms,
and where traditional Cretan folk art is still being produced. There
are also interesting wood carving workshops in Argyroupoli, Agios
Konstantinos and Margarites. In the wonderful surrounding area of
Rethymno we have chosen some lovely villas and apartments. We feel
sure that you and your family will be simply delighted with the beaches,
and will thoroughly unwind and relax through your experience of Cretan
life. There are endless opportunities to indulge oneself at the many
little tavernas with delicious freshly cooked fish and seafood, and
the huge variety of other Cretan culinary specialities. Because of
the central position of Rethymno and the excellent bus service, there
is also the chance, should you wish, to visit virtually all of Crete
one day outings. One of our offices offers excursions to the Palace
of Knossos, to the Archaeological museum of Heraklion, to the Lassithi
plain, to the Samaria Gorge, to the monasteries of Chania, to Arkadi
and Margarites, to the region of Sfakio, or even to Santorini by ship.
Smaller boats make trips from Rethymno along the cost to Panormo,
Bali and Georgioupolis. For those who love to go by foot, the countryside
and mountains surrounding Rethymno is something of a paradise for
Originally a charming fishing village overlooking a pretty bay, it has become
over the last few years a very busy seaside resort, appreciated by some for
its beaches and lively atmosphere in summer.
The village of Panormo is located on the site of the ancient harbour bearing
the same name. Due to its geographical situation, it is now becoming very touristic.
The vast cave of Melidoni (140 m long) is well-known for the resistance of
the Cretans against the Turks (1823) and as the dwelling-place of the giant
Talos, a man made of bronze, protector of the Cretan coasts, and son of Hephaistos,
the god of fire and of blacksmiths. Today, visitors to the cave can view beautiful
compositions of stalactites and stalagmites, in a wide range of shapes and
A village famous for its pottery, an ongoing tradition which dates back to ancient
times. Local craftsmen make large jars (pithoi), and other amphoras. Charming
little village with narrow streets.
Arkadi . The most
famous monastery in Crete, symbol of the fight for freedom. Built by the Venetians
in 1538, its impressive architecture is a combination of Roman and baroque elements.
In 1866, during the revolt of the Cretan people against the Turkish occupying
forces, the 900 inhabitants besieged, driven to desperation, preferred to explode
their stocks of ammunition and die, rather than surrender. This heroism deeply
affected the western world, and led key figures such as Garibaldi and Victor
Hugo to take up the cause of Cretan independence. Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel
"Freedom or Death" was inspired by this incident.
A Cretan village, the name of which means "Armenians": in 961 the
Byzantine emperor Nikiphoros Phokas established a settlement of Christian Armenians
here in order to restore Christian culture, which had suffered during the 130
years of Saracen occupation (828-960). Excavations have revealed a Mycenaean
tomb and a necropolis (the largest in Crete, with 280 tombs), dating back to
1350 - 1200 BC. The funerary objects which have been discovered there are displayed
in the museum of Chania.
Galini. This picturesque
fishing village, which in the 1960’s and 1970’s was known to only
a handful of lucky backpackers, has become overcrowded in summer due to its
natural beauty. Boats departing daily offer the discovery of beautiful coves
in the area. Despite the influx of tourists in summer, Agia Galini remains a
very attractive, lively spot.
A large, pretty village in the mountains. A nice place to stop and taste the
local specialties served in bars and taverns situated in the main square, in
the shade of plane trees. One of the interesting sights of the village is the
Venetian fountain, with its twenty-five spouts in the form of mouths, nineteen
of which display Saint-Mark’s lion, the emblem of the Venetian Republic.
Also worth a visit is the Transfiguration chapel, another Venetian building.
Preveli. A monastery
of Venetian-styled architecture located on one of the most beautiful sites of
the island. It was destroyed in 1646 by the Ottomans, following a series of
revolts by the Cretans, and rebuilt in 1700. There are two groups of buildings,
which are 3km apart: the first group (Kato Moni), overlooks the Libyan sea,
and the second (Pisso Moni), still inhabited by a few monks, was a centre of
resistance against the Turks and, during the second world war, the German occupying
forces. Another site definitely worth a visit : Palm Beach, a magnificent sandy
beach, situated at the exit of a gorge, with a palm-tree lined river flowing
into it. A postcard scene. Fortunately, there is no road leading to Palm Beach.
The creek is only accessible either on foot (a 30 minutes’ walk) through
the gorge, or by boat from Agia Galini or Plakias. Light refreshments available
on the spot. Do visit…but in small numbers!
are seaside resorts which attract many people in summer. Miles and miles of
beaches, and numerous hotels.
About 40 km from Rethymnon, Plakias is a very beautiful natural site, with a
magnificent 1 km-long beach, and a countryside worth exploring (lots of excursions
are arranged). From Mirthios, the neighbouring village, there is a wonderful
view of the bay of Plakias. A little boat will take you to the beautiful beach
A major Minoan site, built around 1600 BC, about the same time as the most recent
version of the palace of Phaistos. The numerous objects found there are displayed
in the museum of Heraklion. The villa (which was a summer residence for the
king of Phaistos), is located at the top of a hill, overlooking the beautiful
and luxuriant plain of Messara, with a view of the Libyan sea. Worth a visit.
A pretty little village with its sand and shingle beach, cliffs and tamarisks.
Unfortunately, the landscape has been spoiled by the presence of large oil storage
tanks. A few taverns and rooms to rent.
Matala was in ancient times the port of Phaistos and Gortyna. North-east of
the bay, under the water, one can still see the remains of this period. According
to the legend, Zeus, taking the shape of a bull, boarded there with Europe,
whom he had kidnapped. Today it is a beautiful sandy beach, overhung by sandstone
cliffs full of numerous caves which were inhabited in the Neolithic period.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, a certain “golden” youth,
the ‘Flower Children’ of 1968, made these caves their home, driving
the Cretans to despair, for the latter could not understand their fondness for
this rather prehistoric-like way of life. Matala should be visited early in
the morning or at about sunset, if you want to avoid the bus-loads of tourists.
Otherwise, within half an hour’s walk towards the south, you can find
a pretty, isolated, fine sandy beach : Red beach.
Kalamaki, Kokkinos Pirgos. Loners
and sea lovers will appreciate long strolls on miles and miles of beaches. Mass
tourism has not yet invaded this coast.
site (or Festos).
Inhabited since the third millennium BC. An older palace was destroyed by an
earthquake, before being rebuilt around 1700 BC. Another earthquake ruined it
again around 1450 BC. These Minoan ruins are less impressive than those of Knossos
for no restoration works have been carried out here, whereas Knossos was rebuilt
by Arthur Evans. Only some remains can be seen, like the theatre. A very famous
object was discovered on this site: the mysterious Disk of Phaistos, which has
not yet revealed its secrets, and is displayed in the museum of Heraklion. Apart
from the historical value of this site, the view is by itself worth the visit.
From here, one can see the fertile Messara plain, the sea, and the mountains
of Crete all at once.
of Rethymnon ( Rethymno - Rethimnon - Rethimno)
Visit Réthymno in the summer and bask on its sun soaked beaches. Magnificent sandy beaches await the beachgoers on the north coast (at the Cretan Sea) as well as on the south coast of the island (at the Libyan Sea). Some of them are: • Réthymno Beach: Organised sandy beach more than 20 km long, stretching from Réthymno town across the east side of the area. •Pánormos: This coastal village is situated 20 km east of Réthymno. It boasts an organised beach with many tavérnas and hotels.
•Bali: Nestling in the surrounding mountains of the Bali bay you will find the coastal village of Bali, 34 km east of Réthymno. Choose one of the small islets and enjoy sun bathing at organised beaches. •Plakiás: The village of Plakiás is situated 40 km south of Réthymno. This resort boasts a superb sandy beach and a well-organised tourist infrastructure including water sport facilities. •Ayía Galíni: situated 58km south of Réthymno, the resort offers a well-organised tourist infrastructure and crystal clear beaches hidden on the surrounding islets. •Préveli beach: The beach of Préveli or “Palm Beach” (Fínikas) is situated at the southern coast of Crete, 40 km far from Réthymno. The palm-tree background and the small lagoon turn this smooth sandy beach into a truly unique exotic place!