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Wednesday, 22 March 2023

History of Rethymno

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The history of the island Crete dates back to about 130.000 years ago. Found stone tools show that early hominids must have at least briefly settled on the island, but the true human settlement didn’t began much before 6.500 B.C.

The first findings that indicate human presence in Rethymno can be dated back to the post-Minoan period (1350-1250 B.C.). The ancient city of "Rithymna" flourished in the 4th and 3rd century B.C., considering the discovered gold and silver coins of this period. Over the time the city become more and more irrelevant and became a common village. In the 2nd Byzantine period (961-1204) evidence indicate the existence of a small fortified settlement named "Castell Vecchio". After the Byzantine period was over, the Venetians take over the island and turned Rethymno, during their 464-year rule (1205-1669), into one of the most important cities of Crete and created the strong association with the Renaissance which can be still felt today. They built churches, mansions, founded schools and brought some of the European culture to Crete. The biggest landmark was built from 1573-1580 the Fortezza, the Venetian citadel, on the hill of "Paleokastro", to protect the city against treats, especially from the Ottomans. It is the largest fortress on Crete and played an important role in many battles.

In the Cretan War (1645-1669) between the Venetians and the Ottomans, the Ottomans claimed Rethymno already in 1646 and changed the city to their religion. The churches became mosques and also the mansions changed: they got Ottoman trelliswork, wooden bay windows and covered balconies. Nevertheless the overall appearance of Rethymno did not change drastically.  The occupation by the Ottoman last until 1897. During the command of the Ottoman there were numerous revolutions and uprisings. The greatest and most importants are the 1866 revolution and the "arcadi" massacre. In 1908 Crete demanded to be unified with Greece and 1913 this demand was satisfied.  During the 2nd World War Rethymno was bombed by the Germans and many buildings were destroyed. After the end of the war, poverty and bad living conditions forced many Rethymnians to move in Athens or abroad, in search of a better future. With the aid of tourist development, Rethymno's old city flourished once again and displays primarily the Venetian legacy.

The palace of Prince George which... turned into the prefectural palace of Rethymno

 It once served as the headquarters of government services.  It was also the temporary residence of Prince George, the high commissioner of Crete in the years 1898-1906. Most of the time the building fell into disrepair, so in the end a gradual restoration was started so that it could finally be preserved and displayed.

building from 1845

Construction of the building was completed in 1847.  Sultan Mejit sent the most money for construction, a total of £500,000 was spent in gold.


The building is a stone, three-story tile roof.  It is organized on the basis of two mutually perpendicular axes of symmetry.  Its length is 52 m, and the width varies from 18 to 28 m. It has a total area of ​​3,175 sq m.  and a total volume of 13,140 sq m.  Ground floor with an area of ​​1021.50 sq m.  it presents an image of auxiliary spaces that do not have functional integration.

Region of Crete Rethymno building historical heritage of crete


Read 600 times Last modified on Thursday, 27 April 2023

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About AT City

Rethymno, or Rethimno, is a city on the north coast of the Greek island of Crete. In the old town, the Venetian Harbor is filled with fishing boats and lined with tavernas. Rethymno Lighthouse was built in the 1830s. West, the hilltop Fortezza is a star-shaped, 16th-century citadel.

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