and town beach
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.
The city of Rethymnon is served through either
International Aiprort of Chania to the west (63 km), or the
International Aiprort of Herakleion to the east (80 km).
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.
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
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.
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.
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
Public buses serve every single village and
tourist location on the island and run very regularly between the
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
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
Most major credit cards are widely accepted at
almost every tourist-oriented establishment.
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
Electricity in Greece is 220V, 50 cycles,
with standard continental-type plugs with two round pins.
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
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.
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.
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