Venetian Fortezza picture
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Venetian Fortezza

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Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing Type
3.9scorecard
  • 3.5Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Built atop a hill in Rethymnon Old Town, the Fortezza (for-TED-za) stands as a symbol of Crete's tempestuous past. The Venetian ruling class, who oversaw the construction of the imposing Fortezza in the late 16th century, hoped it would protect Crete against an Ottoman invasion. But all that labor was for naught — the Ottomans captured the Fortezza less than 100 years after its completion and went on to rule Crete for more than two centuries.

The Fortezza's perimeter still houses the partially restored Ibrahim Han Mosque from the Ottoman era. You will also find the church of Agios Theodoros Trichinas, a Greek Orthodox chapel built in 1899 after Turkish rule ceased, at the site. Today, the Fortezza plays host to a range of cultural events, including the Rethymnon Renaissance Festival. Recent visitors suggest checking out the Fortezza toward the end of the day when crowds start to wane. In the evening, you can enjoy the sun sparkling on the Mediterranean Sea as it sinks below the western horizon. If you don't have time to go in the evening, visitors strongly suggest bringing a hat and sunscreen. Those who didn't said it was difficult to really enjoy the attraction because the heat was so intense. 

The Venetian Fortezza welcomes visitors between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. every day. Admission costs €4 EUR.

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Rethymnon Old Town
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#1 Rethymnon Old Town

If you're in Rethymnon, then you shouldn't miss the opportunity to wander the narrow alleys of Old Town, a seaside neighborhood that dates back to the 11th century. Here you'll find prime examples of Venetian Renaissance architecture along with splashes of Turkish influence spread throughout the city.

The food and shopping options in Old Town are seemingly endless, but the maze-like streets can be perplexing. If you do get turned around, don't despair: The area isn't huge, and once you see the Venetian Fortezza or the harbor, you can easily regain your bearings. Recent travelers have actually embraced getting lost in Old Town because the streets are so charming, the locals are so kind and the food is so good. Case in point, Old Town Rethymnon is simply beautiful.

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