In the beach places on the northern side of Rethymno, there are some diving centers that offer courses, rent equipment and organize diving trips to interesting spots, like old wrecks and reefs. Another popular activity in Rethymno is hiking, especially in autumn and spring when the weather is not very hot. The inland of Rethymnon provides nice places for hiking and trails pass through impressive gorges, ancient sites, and authentic villages.
Sights & Attractions
The island of Crete is an extremely popular area, visited by lots of tourists every year who want to enjoy the long beaches, scenic landscapes, and mountainous villages. Rethymno, in particular, is an area of great historical importance and natural beauty, with many sites worth to visit. The historical Monasteries of Preveli and Arkadi are very important places to visit in Rethymno. Visitors should also not miss a stroll to the Old Town of Rethymno with the Venetian style and the picturesque old port, as well as to the Fortezza above the town. Apart from the sandy beaches, very beautiful are the seaside villages of Rethymno, such as Bali, Agia Galini, and Plakias. You can see below the best Sites in Rethymno: Ancient sites, Museums, Churches, and more. You can filter them by category and location.
The Neratze Mosque in Rethymno, also known as Gazi Hussein Mosque, is found close to Petichaki square. Initially it was a Venetian church dedicated to Santa Maria and later on, it became an Augustinian Monastery. However, when the Turks dominated the town in 1657, their leader, Gazi Hussein Pasha, turned it into a mosque. As part of the reconstruction, three more homes were built and a minaret with two balconies for praying. Its minaret is the highest in town although it is in state of preservation today. The chapel of the Body of Christ, close to the mosque, was being used as a religious school. In 1925, when Crete had got free from the Ottomans, the mosque was turned again into a Christian church dedicated to Agios Nikolaos, but it never actually functioned as a church. Today, Neratze Mosque houses the Municipal Odeon, run by the Rethymno Association for the Promotion of the Arts. Music lessons are held there as well as musical concerts.
The Venetian stronghold of Fortezza is built on top of a low hill above Rethymno Town, Crete. The hill is known as Paleokastro, which means old castle in Greek and suggests the existence of an older structure in that place. This huge fortress, with its turbulent history, was built between 1540 and 1570 by the Venetian maritime power as a bulwark against Turkish pirates. More than 100,000 Cretans on compulsory labor and over 40,000 pack animals were used in the construction of this mighty fortress. However, the Fortezza was conquered by the Turks in 1646. After many upheavals during the next three centuries, only the outer fortifications of the Fortezza remain intact and few buildings are still under restoration. The Fortezza is visible from every part of the town and provides the visitor a panoramic view of Rethymno town. The visitors enter from the East Gate through an impressive archway. Some of the many sights to see inside the Fortezza are the Ibraham Han Mosque, the Bastion of Santa Maria and the church of Agios Theodoros Trichinas. This orthodox chapel was built in 1899 by the Russian Governor of Rethymnon. The 20th-century Theatre of Erofili is also inside the Fortezza and holds many cultural events every summer. This theatre got its name from the play of a local play writer, Georgios Chortatsis.
Arkadi is a place of special historical interest, known for the events that took place during the revolution of 1866. The monastery is built on the edge of the high plateau. This is one of the most important monuments of Crete and an interesting pole of attraction for visitors. Located 23km southeast from Rethymno and 500m above the sea level, the initial fortressing part of the monastery was built in the 12th century, by an Arkadian monk as it is believed. Another myth says that the monastery was named after the Byzantine emperor Arcadius. The most important part of the Monastery of Arkadi is a church dedicated to Metamorphosis of Savior and Agios Konstantinos and Agia Eleni. The monastery is quite large and its high walls relate to a fortress. This holy place has been well-known from the events of November 1866, when Crete had rebelled against the Turks, dominating the island for the past 200 years. When the Turkish soldiers violated the monastery after many hours of siege, the besiegers with a monk as leader put on fire a room filled with gunpowder. The explosion, which killed all the people inside the monastery and most of the Turkish soldiers, was a desperate act of the besiegers to remain free and not fall in the hands of their enemies. This act symbolizes the Cretan liberation and makes the Monastery of Arkadi one of the most famous monasteries in Crete. There are few monks who still live there taking care of the church and the surrounding buildings. Inside the monastery, you will find a small souvenir shop with handmade items and great copies of Byzantine icons. The monastery also houses an interesting museum with a great collection of post-Byzantine icons, pontifical from the 16th century, blazonry and relics from several revolutions. Outside the monastery, there is a memorial structure dedicated to the Cretans who died in 1866, displaying the remains of the dead.
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