Rethymnon tour: between East and WestRethymno, Greece
Rethymnon tour is a fascinating self-guided audio walking tour in Rethymnon city in Crete. Discover credible and original stories written by top local professionals. Take your tour now and enjoy it instantly on your smartphone device.
Rethymnon: between East and West is a tour through space and time. It begins with the purchase of Crete by the Venetians in 1210 and culminates in the struggle for union with Greece in the late 19th century. As you walk from the Venetian harbour to the heart of the city you are constantly reminded of the town’s tumultuous past. Fortifications preserve the memory of the bloody conflicts between the Venetians and the Ottomans for control of Crete and the Mediterranean. Mosques and churches glorify the generals, admirals, bishops, artists, and pirates that once fought and triumphed (or perished) here.
Every building has a story to tell. The Kara Musa Pasha Mosque was initially a Venetian monastery dedicated to Saint Barbara but upon the city’s conquest, the Ottomans replaced the roof with a dome and added a minaret. Today the complex houses the Byzantine Antiquities Department. The Valide Sultana Mosque was named after the mother of the Sultan Ibrahim I who undertook the conquest of Rethymno but was too mentally unstable to rule, so his mother took charge of the government. The Rimondi Fountain was a gift to the city by a Venetian administrator, who wished to gain some favour in the afterlife and ensure the survival of his memory among the local populace. The Fortezza seems impressive with its thick walls and its seven bastions but in reality it was never effective; financial difficulties led to a fatal simplification of the initial design and opened the way for the city’s capture by the Ottomans after a brief 23-day siege.
There is even a distant connection with Miguel Cervantes, the celebrated author of Don Quixote. The Spanish writer fought in the Battle of Lepanto (1571) and in his writings he mentions Uluç Pasha, a Roman Catholic from Italy who was captured by the Turks, converted to Islam and rose to become an Ottoman admiral and ruler of Algiers. Along the way he managed to capture and plunder Rethymno a few months before his participation in the battle of Lepanto, opposite Cervantes.
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1. Fortezza - outsideThe impressive fortress was built as a result of the increasing number of Turkish attacks, but it could not prevent the city’s conquest.
2. Fortezza to Historical Museum nonstopOn the way from the Fortezza south towards the old town, one meets several less well-known sights.
3. Plateia Tessaron MartyronThe "Square of the Four Martyrs", just outside the Venetian old town, is named after the church on its eastern side. In 1824 four Christians were executed here by the Ottomans.
Fortezza - outsideUluç Pasha, also known as Kiliç Ali Pasha (1519-1587), was born in a Christian family in Calabria, but was enslaved by the Turks at the age of 16. After his conversion to Islam, he quickly built a career as an Ottoman admiral and became the ruler of Algiers. In July 1571 he conquered and destroyed Rethymno, and in October of that same year he participated in the naval battle of Lepanto, which resulted in the first great Ottoman defeat. Miguel de Cervantes, author of “Don Quixote”, participated in the battle of the side of the Christian Sacred League. He mentions Uluç Pasha as Uchali in his epic novel and describes how he rose to become the ruler of Algiers.
The wooden windows
Fortezza to Historical Museum nonstopIn the streets of Rethymno there are 37 examples of wooden bay windows protruding from the building’s upper floor. This type of window is called sachnisi (Persian for "seat of the Shah") and it was very popular in the Ottoman period from the Balkans to Asia Minor. It offered more space, more light, and gave the women a protected view of the street. It was made out of light materials such as wood and small stones covered with plaster. In contrast to the Central European oriel, which has its own roof, the sachnisi goes all the way to the eaves of the house. In the early 19th century, the newly established Greek state considered these windows as "Turkish" and forbade their use. When later research proved that this type of window was actually very old (ancient or Byzantine), it underwent a renaissance and was used extensively in the neoclassical architecture of the late 19th century.
Megali Porta (Porta Guora)
Plateia Tessaron MartyronAn earlier city wall, built by the Venetians after the plundering of Rethymno by Hayreddin Barbarossa (1538), according to the plans of Michele Sanmicheli in 1540-1570, was destroyed a year after its completion by Uluç Pasha. Then began the construction of the Fortezza on the hill of Palaiokastro. The Megali Porta (Grand Porte) is the only surviving part of the city’s southern wall, which ran along today's Dimakopoulou and Gerakari streets. It was also called Porta Guora, according to Jacopo Guoro, the Venetian statuary from 1566 to 1568. The 2.60 meters wide arch, which was originally crowned by a gable with the Venetian lions, formed the end of a 27 meters deep bastion-like gateway, demolished in 1902.
The author has studied classical archeology in Munich, Athens and Berlin. He works as a travel guide in Greece since 2003.
|Starting point||Venetian Harbour, Rethimno, Crete|
|Finishing point||Arkadiou, Rethimno|
|Areas||Venetian Harbor, Fortezza, Archaeological Museum, Old city of Rethymno|
Why take a self-guided tour?
This is a self-guided tour based on the award-winning storytelling concept developed by Clio Muse and the fascinating narratives prepared by our handpicked destination experts.
You can enjoy each multilingual tour by using your smartphone or tablet at your own pace even if you are offline. The interactive map on your screen will guide you step-by-step as you explore all points of interest along your route. Each stop comes with a selection of our signature stories allowing you to tailor the tour experience to your personal interests and schedule.
After downloading Clio Muse app, you can access this tour and activate it any moment you wish and also repeat it any time. To best enjoy our multimedia self-guided tour (comprising maps, video, audio and text) we recommend the use of headphones.