Rethymno, the prefecture between the towns of Chania and Heraklio, abuts the Cretan Sea to the north and the Libyan Sea to the south. Initially the town of Rethymno, capital of the prefecture, was built on the cape of the northern shore. The developing town gradually stretched along the northern sandy beach, which has a total length of 13 km. The terrain of the prefecture is mainly mountainous with multifarious morphological changes such as imposing gorges, a large number of caves, lush valleys and small rivers. Mountains and mountain ranges dominate the interior of the prefecture. In the east rises Mount Psiloritis, or Ida as it was called during ancient times, with its sacred cave of Zeus, and south west the mountain range of Kedros; together the two massifs border the beautiful valley of Amari. On the north easterly border of the prefecture rises Mount Kouloukounas also called Talaia Mountain, south of the town of Rethymno is Mount Vrysinas, and in a south westerly direction lies Mount Kryoneritis. A few areas of flat land can be found mainly in the northern coastal region between the massifs. There as well as along the south coast a large number of beautiful sandy beaches with crystal clear water have formed. The “temperate Mediterranean” climate with its hot summers and its long periods of rainfall guarantees ideal temperatures ranging from 14º
C in winter to 29º C in summer. Occasionally strong northerly and warm, indolent southerly winds interrupt the mild climate between the seasons.
from myth to history
A 3500 YEAR- OLD HISTORY Figurine displaying a Minoan Goddess from Pagkalochori The Archaeological Museum is area was always inhabited. Neolithic hamlets, Minoan settlements and sanctuaries, Classical and Roman cities compose a continuous picture of the prehistoric, ancient world. The palace complex in Monastiraki, in the area of Amari, the Late Minoan Cemetery of Armeni, the villages of Eleftherna, Sibrytos, Lappa, Axos and Stavromenos are only a few examples of the sites, where archaeological excavations have brought history to light. During the first years of Christianity beautiful Early Christian basilicas show impressive architecture and ornamentation. Among the total of approximately 18 churches the mostagnificent are those of the villages of Panormo, Eleftherna, Vyzari, Goulediana and Thronos. During the Byzantine period the countryside of Rethymno is embellished with both monasteries and superb singleaisled or cruciform churches with a cupola, which are ornamented with frescoes. With the Venetian occupation following this period, a seal was set to the architectural style and the character of the town and the countryside, while at the same time an unparalleled stimulus was given to the intellectual development of the area. However, in the flower of the Renaissance the Turkish invaders abruptly ended this movement, and, imposing Muslim elements, contributed to the change of the Rethymno area into a multi-cultural community.