Rethymno, the third largest city of Crete, is the most representative sample of Cretan Renaissance. It simultaneously characterized as “idyllic summer destination” with exceptional natural landscapes and strong historic value counts even from the Prehistoric years. The name “Rethymno” derived from the “Ancient Rithymna” which was settled during the 4th -5th c. B.C.
The landmark of Rethymno, the Fortezza Fortress in front of the Old Venetian Port, was built in 1573, on the foundations of Ancient Rithymna. The Old Town of Rethymno is full of Venetian features, with quaint streets and great monuments, constituting one of the best preserved Venetian cities in the Mediterranean. Venetians erected splendid public buildings, churches and mansions and also founded schools and literary societies, bringing a European aura to Crete.
The famous "Academy of the Vivi", established in 1562, was the first attempt of organized cultural life on the island. Moreover, the 16th century Venetian Loggia, a splendid Palladian architectural style structure, the Rimondi Fountain which supplied Rethymno with water and the 16th century Church of St. Francis-the present Archaeological Museum of Rethymno, are some of old town's masterpieces. The city also, holds the record of over 700 architectural gems from different architectural styles, which adorn the urban center. Also, minaret mosques, as the Neratze Mosque and the Ibrahim Pasa, reminds the Turkish domination which is architecturally obvious in many corners of Old Town.
Nowadays, the city holds a strong cultural diary, includes festivals, theme celebrations with different art expressions. For example, the Renaissance Festival with a large variety of theatrical and musical performances and the Cretan Diet Festival, the most important gastronomic event in honor of Mediterranean Diet.