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Rethymnon,
lighthouse and town beach

The area which is now occupied by the medieval and the modern town of Rethymnon, has been inhabited since the Late Minoan Period, according to finds now in the Archaeological Museum. Known as Rithymna in antiquity, the town was prominent enough in the 3rd and 4th centuries BC to issue its own coins. The town remained under Roman and Byzantine rule until it fell to the Venetians in 1210. During Venetian rule Rethymnon once more rose to prominence, as a commercial centre of agricultural products grown in the region --mainly wine and olive oil-- as well as the seat of a Venetian Prefect. The fortifications built by the Venetians, however, did not deter the Turks, who took the town after a 22-day siege in 1646. During the Turkish Occupation, Rethymnon rose as a centre of resistance and consequently suffered greatly from Turkish reprisals. In 1897, Russia took over the administration of Rethymon as part of the occupation of Crete by the Great Powers. Crete was finally re-united with Greece in 1913.
Rethymnon today is the third largest city in Crete (2001 pop.: 32,000), located about halfway between Herakleion and Chania, on the north coast of Crete.

TRAVEL INFORMATION:

Getting there
  
The city of Rethymnon is served through either the "Daskalogiannis" International Aiprort of Chania to the west (63 km), or the "Kazantzakis" International Aiprort of Herakleion to the east (80 km).
   The "Daskalogiannis" International Airport of Chania has many daily connections with Athens on Olympic Airways and Aegean Airlines, as well as direct services to / from Thessaloniki. Chania also sees a huge number of charter flight arrivals in season.
   The "Kazantzakis" International Aiprort of Herakleion too has many domestic connections to/from Athens on Olympic Airways and Aegean Airlines. In addition, both airlines provide year-round direct connections between Herakleion and Thessaloniki and Rhodes (as well as Mykonos and Santorini in season). Dozens of charter flights arrive daily in season at Herakleion, from all major destinations in central and northern Europe.
Rethymnon has a daily overnight direct ferry service to / from Piraeus (the port of Athens). Ferries depart from either port at 20:00 hours and reach their destination about nine or ten hours later. Chania and Herakleion have more frequent ferry connections with Piraeus, on faster and more luxurious ships.
Buses run almost hourly between Rethymnon and either Chania (55 km) or Herakleion (73 km).

Accommodation
   Rethymnon and its environs has an almost inexhaustible supply of accommodation, ranging from the really budget to the magnificently luxurious. The official hotels of the competition are the Creta Star for the men's competition and the Creta Panorama for the women's competition.

Orientation
   The old (Ottoman and Venetian) quarter of Rethymnon is situated south of the headland that is occupied by the Venetian Fortress. The town beach begins at the small Venetian harbour and curves out to the south and east of the Old Town. The main throughfare runs west to east almost parallel to the waterfront, a few blocks inland. The intercity bus terminal is at the western edge of this main avenue. The ferry terminal is at the edge of the Old Town, next to the Venetian Harbour.

Getting around
   Public transportation is readily available by buses, for in town and out of town trips.
Taxis may be ordered by phone or hailed on the street.
Public buses serve every single village and tourist location on the island and run very regularly between the major cities.
Numerous car-hire outlets (including all the major multi-national companies) can be found in Rethymnon (and also at Herakleion and Chania Airports). Be advised, however, that parking in the city centre could be a nightmare. A home driving license from most countries should suffice for car rental. Motorbikes, scooters and bicycles are also available for hire from numerous outlets.

Money
   Greece is a member of the Euro-zone and since 1 January 2002 its official currency is the Euro (). The euro is also the official currency of Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. In late August, 1,00 = $1,09. Most foreign currencies can be exchanged at banks (open Monday to Friday, 08:00-13:30). Other options are exchange offices, which usually keep longer hours. Rates and commissions at travel agencies and hotels will probably not be as favourable as at banks and exchange offices. All banks have ATMs available round the clock.
Most major credit cards are widely accepted at almost every tourist-oriented establishment.

Time
   Greece is three hours ahead of GMT from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October. In winter Greece is two hours ahead of GMT.

Electricity
   Electricity in Greece is 220V, 50 cycles, with standard continental-type plugs with two round pins.

Telephones
   Direct-dial phone service is available between Greece and all countries of the world. International calls may be placed from any of the cardphones located throughout Rethymnon. Telephone cards are sold at kiosks and newsstands everywhere. Phone calls placed from hotel rooms may carry heavy surcharges.
Mobile phone networks in Greece are compatible with the European-wide GSM 900/1800 standards, but not with the systems available in the USA and Japan. Vodafone (formerly Panafon), Telestet and Cosmote are the three mobile phone service providers in Greece, with coverage in Rethymon. Check with your home service provider to find out if Roaming Service is available for you. Otherwise, it's possible for very little money to easily buy Connection Packs from any of the above companies in Greece. These are compatible with GSM 900/1800 devices and include a number and a small amount of air time, which can be renewed.

Newspapers
   A wide variety of foreign newspapers and magazines is available in Rethymnon -most on the evening of the same day of publication. The International Herald Tribune, printed in Athens, is available every morning with an eight-page English-language supplement of the Greek daily Kathimerini. The English-language Athens News is published every Friday.

Beaches, Sightseeing & Excursions
   The town beach extends approximately west to east, beginning at the Old Harbour and running the length of Rethymnon. Other popular beaches can be found in the eastern suburbs.
   Rethymnon has a host of tourist attractions for visitors. The Old Quarter is a maze of alleys that extends south of the Venetian Fortress (Fortezza), that occupies the headland at the eastern edge of Rethymnon's waterfront. Near the entrance (on the east walls) to the Fortezza is the Archaeological Museum. Inside the Old Town, a favourite meeting point is the Rimondi Fountain, originally built in 1588 and decorated with lion heads and Corinthian capitals. Southwest of the Venetian Harbour is the Loggia, a 16th-centurty meeting house for the Venetian nobility. At the southern extremity of the Old Town stands the Great Gate (or Porto Guora). The Ottoman legacies of the Old Town include the Kara Musa Pasha (with its vaulted fountain) and the Nerantzes mosques --the latter converted from a Franciscan church in 1657.
Rethymnon is an excellent base for excursions to the hinterland, where archaeological sites and historic monasteries (including the famous Arkadi) attract thousands of visitors each year. Attractive mountain villages within easy reach of Rethymnon remain untouched by mass tourism and provide a respite from the over-exploited coast.