historically RHITHYMNA, town and capital of the prefecture of Rethimni, north-central Crete. A town and port on Almiros Bay, Rethimnon trades in wheat, almonds, olive oil, and wine. It lies north of the ancient Mycenaean town of Rithymna. Rethimnon was a stronghold during the Venetian period in the late European Middle Ages, when it was called Retimo; its port shipped malmsey (malvasia) wine. The city was captured in 1645 by the Turks. In May 1941, German paratroops landed in and secured Rethimnon during the battle with Commonwealth forces for control of Crete. West of Rethimnon is the small port of Yeoryioupolis, which has sandy beaches on the east. Pop. (1981) 17,736.
The town offers many beautiful walks and sights and the Archaelogical Museum is very interesting as it is housed in a 16th c. Venetian Villa (Loggia, a gentlemenís club). The coin collection is particularly important.
One can still see many monuments around the old part of the town, testimonies of the various forces of occupation through the ages. Among them one can see the Great Gate, dating from the last Venetian fortifications during 1540-1570, the 17th c. Rimondi fountain, near Petikaki square and the Fortezza, the old fort built in 1574 on the Paleokastro hill, overlooking the old city and the sea. The churches of San Francesko and Our Lady of the Angels (or Mikri Panagia - Little Virgin) are well worth a visit.
South of Rethymno, the Monasteries of Arkadi (26 km) and Preveli (36km) are worth visiting. Arkadi was built on the 16th c. in a spectacular natural setting, and it is closely linked with the uprising against the turkish occupation. Preveli is built amphitheatrically facing south to the Libyan Sea and boasts a small but interesting museum.
There are various caves worth visiting in the district of Rethymnon. Among them, Sentoni Zoniana, 13km west of Anogia, at an altitude of 800m, is highly recommended due to its rich natural decoration and sights. Also worth visiting are the caves of Gerani (6km from Rethymnon) where interesting prehistoric, paleontological and archaeological artifacts were unearthed, now housed at the Museum of Rethymnon and the Melidoni cave (26km east) used for cult worship during the Neolithic, Minoan and Archaic periods.
Argiroupoli: This is a beautiful green village 27 km southwest of Rethymnon. It is well known for the ancient springs which feed some enormous cisterns and also some watermills used for washing the famous local "flokati" fluffy rugs.
Spili: A wooded beautiful village, 28km southeast of Rethymnon with stone houses and cobblestone lanes. In the small, plane tree-shaded square one can see 25 spouts formed in the shape of lionsí heads with spring water from the imposing nearby mountain of Psiloritis.
Anogia: A mountain village, 53km southeast of Rethymnon, famous for its woven cloths.
Armeni: A Minoan cemetery with tombs carved out of rocks has been found nearby. Some of the finds are displayed at the Museum.
Axos and Eleftherna: Sites of two large Greco-Roman cities. Many foundations of houses, temples and other building are still visible.
Zominthos: The site of an important Minoan era settlement on the Nida plateau, 20km from Anogia.