My family comes from the mainland in Greece. I have traveled to many islands through the years but never been to Crete until recently. Now I understand why it´s such a popular destination. Crete is the largest island in Greece and its geographical position have made the people love and grow their land. Olive groves, orange trees or vineyards can be seen after the roads. I admire people with devotion or meraki as the greeks says. The Cretan cuisine is delicious, more about the gastronomic culture on the island here.
Are you going to Crete this summer? Are you thinking about where to stay? The island is large and there are many attractions to explore. If you choose Rethymnon then you will be able to make day trips to the east and to the west side of the island. Or just explore what is around the city of Rethymnon itself. Here are my best culture tips and photos.
The beautiful Venetian old harbor and the lighthouse are Rethymnons citys pride. The lighthouse we see today, 9 meters high, is built by Egyptians in the 1830s when Crete belonged to the Ottoman Empire. The harbor is the meeting point for tourists and locals. Here you will find many cozy taverns and cafes with the tables directly at the dock where the colorful fishing boats are located.
The city of Rethymnon was already there in the Minoan times. The old city we see today is the best preserved on the island built during the Venetian era of the 1600s. It so nice to stroll around old town and explore the old buildings and the architecture.
Fortezza is built on the hill Paleokastro (means old castle) under the Venetian regime. The Venetians built it to protect the city from the Ottoman occupation. But despite this, the Turks conquered the city in the 1600s. The fortress was destroyed during the second World War but is renovated and a mosque and two churches from the 1800s have been preserved.
Preveli Monastery is located 37 km from Rethymnon in a beautiful hill overlooking the water of Preveli beach. The monastery is consisted of two main building complexes, the Lower (Kato) Monastery and the Rear (Pisso) Monastery which is in operation today. The monastery is known for its battles against the Turks 1821 and in the battle of Crete 1941.
The beach is located about 2 km from the lower Monastery, has a nice parking place there. It takes about 15 minutes to reach the beach from the parking area, take the stairs and walk down the hill to the beach. It is a unique and popular place where the river Grand River opens into the sea.
Arkadi Monasterys church was built in 1587 by Italian architects and was heavily influenced by the renaissance art. But I’m more impressed over the interiors and beautiful colour of ochre on the walls. So nice to be a monk here and have time for reflection and inner thought in this beautiful environment. The Monastery is one of the Eastern Orthodox Monasteries underlining the catholicity and universality of the church and has therefore many visitors and pilgrims from the whole world.