Between the town Chania (58 km) and the town of Heraklion (78 km), the visitor of Crete can discover the town Rethimnon, capital of the prefecture of Rethimnon. When one visits the latter immediately notices the abundance of remaining Venetian and Turkish monuments. Five from the eight in total Turkish mosques currently being restored, the Fortress Fortezza, as well as several buildings from the Venetian period are only a sample of the historical buildings and monuments scattered in the town.
The first evidence of life in the town of Rethimnon date long before the Venetians. The discovery of a chiselled tomb, complete with funeral gifts, in the area of Mastabas, date back to the last stage of the Late Minoan period. However, the most convincing and distinct evidence for the existence of the ancient town of Rethimnon, or Rithimna, is given by the inscriptions and coins dating back to the 4th and 3rd century BC.
The town lost its power during the Roman period until its recovery under Venetian ruling when it became an important commercial port. However, the towns defence systems were not to last the Turkish invasion and as a result the town was burnt down in 1571 by Ulutz Ali. Consequently, it was decided to build a fortress on the hill of Palaiokastro, the walls of which should also protect the houses of the town.
In 1646 the town falls into the hands of the Turks and a number of revolts follow that result to the holocaust of the Arkadi Monastery in 1866. Despite their efforts for liberation, the Cretans did not succeed until the revolution of 1897 that finally secured their autonomy.
Attracting thousands of tourists every year, Rethimnon is a modern and vibrant city that combines its past with its present in a remarkable way.