Rethymnon is the third largest city in Crete with a population of 33,000. It is full of many sights; it has a sandy beach and claims a strong tourist infrastructure. Enjoy your ride in the old town. Marvel at the well preserved Venetian and Ottoman buildings scattered along the narrow cobbled streets. The city is full of squares, shops and restaurants. Try traditional Cretan drink raki or tzikoudia at the famous taverns. Visit the picturesque Venetian port and the Venetian fortress of Fortezza.
This region as a whole is rich with ancient history, most notably through the Minoan civilisation centred at Kydonia east of Rethymno. Rethymno itself began a period of growth when the Venetian conquerors of the island decided to put an intermediate commercial station between Heraklion and Chania, acquiring its own bishop and nobility in the process. Today’s old town (palia poli) is almost entirely built by the Republic of Venice. It is one of the best-preserved old towns in Crete.
From circa 1250 the city was the seat of the Latin Diocese of Retimo, which was renamed Retimo–Ario after the absorption in 1551 of the Diocese of Ario and as suppressed only after the Turkish conquest.
The town still maintains its old aristocratic appearance, with its buildings dating from the 16th century, arched doorways, stone staircases, Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains, the small Venetian harbour and narrow streets. The Venetian Loggia houses the information office of the Ministry of Culture and Sports. A Wine Festival is held there annually at the beginning of July. Another festival, in memory of the destruction of the Arkadi Monastery, is held on 7–8 November.
The city’s Venetian-era citadel, the Fortezza of Rethymno, is one of the best-preserved castles in Crete. Other monuments include the Neratze mosque (the Municipal Odeon arts centre), the Great Gate (Μεγάλη Πόρτα or “Porta Guora”), the Piazza Rimondi and the Loggia..