Rethymnon, a magical destination
Perhaps the words are poor in trying to describe the beauties of the prefecture of Rethymno, in Crete. It is evident, however, that this is a place of great natural beauty, in the shadow of Psiloritis. The long history of the region and the special culture, which is reflected, in the best possible way, in the top historical monuments and local myths, legends and traditions, the picturesque mountain settlements and the luxurious tourist resorts along the Aegean coastline or the Libyan Sea, can speak for themselves about the special character of this Cretan corner. In addition, beaches of exotic beauty, with clear blue waters and velvety sandy beaches, complete the travel canvas of wonderful images of the prefecture of Rethymnon, which, every year, invites every visitor to experience the most unexpected surprises.
We selected some of the points of great tourist interest, in the region of Rethymno, through a list of innumerable options, with the hope that they will create in you, an explosion of emotions and the mood to travel in Crete as soon as possible.
The monastery of Arkadi is the most famous monastery in Crete and is completely synonymous with the long struggles of the Cretans for freedom in the 19th century. The historic monastery is, today, a famous and busy destination throughout Crete and remains, after its restoration, a magnificent architectural ensemble. The first image that the visitor sees, entering the monastery, is the amazing renaissance facade of the monument, an element that refers to corresponding monuments of Renaissance Europe. The katholikon of the monastery is dedicated to the Transfiguration of the Savior and to Saints Constantine and Helen, while inside it houses portable icons, heirlooms and treasures, all masterpieces of ecclesiastical art. The monument is surrounded by ancillary areas, such as the bank, the cellars and, of course, the legendary powder kegs, which were never restored, remaining, to this day, living witnesses of the monastery's history. The wonderful natural landscape, around the monastery, ideally completes a monument of incredible historical and spiritual mystagogy.
On the Nida plateau, at the eastern foot of Psiloritis, near Anogia and 75 km from the city of Rethymnon, is Ideon Antron, one of the most important natural attractions of Crete. The impressive in appearance cave, located at a height of 1538 meters, is one of the most important worship caves of Crete, completely intertwined with the worship of the god Zeus. According to Greek mythology, the cave was the place of upbringing of the Olympian king of the gods (note that Zeus was born in Diktaion Andron), from the goat Amalthea, thus giving rise to the creation of one of the most famous Greek myths, regarding with the salvation of the great God, from the savage dispositions of his father, Saturn. A wonderful complex of impressive stalactites and stalagmites compose the interior image of the cave, which is considered one of the wonders of nature, while archaeologists have managed to locate findings that indicate the function of this
space, as a place of worship of Zeus. The small figurines, weapons, tools and vases, found in the cave, are on display today in the major archaeological museums of Crete and impress everyone with their artistic perfection and grace.
The ancient Eleftherna
The region of Rethymno is full of archeological sites of special interest, which testify to the long-term habitation of the area, from the depths of antiquity. The ancient city of Eleftherna, is the most important archaeological site of the prefecture and is located 25km east of Rethymnon, very close to the monastery of Arkadi. Although the excavations have not yet been completed, archaeologists have managed to locate and bring to light the remains of an ancient city, built by the Dorians, in the 9th century BC, at the crossroads of major trade and economic roads, which connected the major centers of Minoan civilization. The impressive findings of the area, reveal aspects of the ancient daily life of the city and testify to the greatness and power that Eleftherna experienced, in the Hellenistic and Roman years, until its final destruction by an earthquake, which thus put an end to one of the most important historical capitals of the main island, leaving, however, to each visitor the best impressions.
A special experience awaits every traveler, when he visits Anogia, the beautiful Cretan village, on the northern slopes of Psiloritis. This large capital village of the prefecture of Rethymno, is a settlement that retains its authentic character, by being a typical case of a settlement with an extremely closed social structure. It is true that the locals in Anogia speak a peculiar Cretan dialect, preserving in their vocabulary many ancient Greek words and phrases and preserving, to the fullest, the linguistic richness of the region and their anthropological and cultural characteristics. The traditional character of the settlement, in combination with the innate hospitality of the inhabitants, the rich gastronomy and the long musical tradition of Anogia, (note: It is the birthplace of the great musician N. Xylouris), create the appropriate conditions for an unprecedented experience, which will remain indelibly engraved in the hearts of every visitor.
Preveli. The monastery and the homonymous beach.
In the list of the dozens of exceptional beaches that the prefecture of Rethymno has, especially in its southern part, stands out the beach of Preveli, or Finikas, of unreal beauty and exotic character. The beach is 38km from the city of Rethymnon and is created in a landscape of incredible natural beauty, composed of numerous palm trees, a deep gorge and the Kourtaliotis river, which, just before pouring into the sea, creates a small lagoon. Preveli has wonderful turquoise waters and a vast white beach, while it is the only beach that allows the visitor to swim either in the salty waters of the sea or in the fresh waters of the lagoon and the river. In any case, the exotic environment of the beach and the view to the Libyan Sea inspire the senses, offering unique moments of enjoyment and carefree.
The large number of visitors, which is observed in the area, is derived from the monastery of Preveli, which emerges as a major pilgrimage destination in the prefecture of Rethymno and
of the whole of Crete. The impressive architecture of the monastery, the wonderful relics inside and the stunning view of the Libyan Sea, contribute to the spiritual uplift of everyone and intensify the atmosphere of mysticism that characterizes the monument.
The beaches of the region
In the emergence of the prefecture of Rethymno, as a highly attractive travel destination, the leading role is played by the beaches, which stretch either along the northern coastline, which is bathed by the Aegean or to the south, which is bathed by the Libyan Sea. It is common that all the beaches in the prefecture are places of amazing natural beauty, with crystal clear blue-green waters and endless sandy beaches, while, at the same time, the ease of access to them and the satisfactory package of organization and facilities to all visitors, make them popular choices for moments of complete relaxation and recreation.
Despite the general assumption that the most beautiful and busiest beaches are located in the southern part of the island, Bali beach on the northside easily wins all the visitors’ impressions. Its wonderful waters and its perfect organization are a pole of attraction for everyone, but especially for those who indulge in water activities and sports. On the other hand, Plakias beach on the south side of the prefecture, with its wild nature, sandy beach and excellent organization, stands out as a popular choice, as in the beaches of Ammoudi and Damnoni, the icy clear waters and the fine soft sand, compose a backdrop of great emotions. In the picturesque resort of Agia Galini, the beaches, which are formed in the individual picturesque ports of the area, are a unique location for swimming, while Triopetra, with its endless beach of fine gray sand, becomes the ultimate romantic setting for any visitor, who can enjoy a sunset overlooking the sea and the shadows of the rocks emerging from the waves. Besides, it seems that the earthly paradises are countless in the prefecture of Rethymno and this is a fact that can not be disputed!