The Monastery of Arkádi (GR:Αρκάδι) built during the last Venetian period, it consists of a large set of fortress-like buildings. The main building included the cells, the warehouses where the agricultural products were treated and stored, the stables. In a word, it was a well-equipped little fortress where people could find refuge in times of trouble. There is an impressive church, with two naves dedicated to Saint Constantine and Saint Helen, and to Our Lord. Due to the holocaust it suffered in 1866, Arkadi has become the island's most famous monastery.
It stands 37 km south of Rethimnon, in an imposing landscape which is mentioned at the mid-19th century diary of Th. Spratt (admiral of the British Royal Navy), as "one of the happiest places to withdraw from trials and responsibilities of life".There are lots of legends concerning the foundation of the monastery, which is believed that started during the Venetian occupation of the island. A number of its monks activities made the monastery one of the richest of western Crete and due to its isolated position it played important role in Cretan revolts against the occupying forces. A substantial number of icons and other items is kept in the Museum of the Monastery of Preveli amongst them the miracle - working Eulogistic Cross of Efraim Prevelis.
The site was first discovered by a teacher who noticed that two pupils were playing football using a minoan vase as a ball!. He mentioned the fact to the authorities and the excavations that followed unearthed about 300 tombs of the Late Minoan III period (1450-1100 BC). As the tombs had not been yet looted, the archaeologists found significant treasures like vases, weapons, statuettes, jewels etc. It is obvious that such a big cemetery should belong to a big city which, despite the extended investigations of the archaeologists, has not been discovered yet.
The Fortezza castle, at the top of a low hill named "Palaiokastro" dominates the town. It was built in 1590 to protect the city from the pirates raids and the Turks. The name "Palaiokastro which means 'The old Castle' was in use even by the Venetians which demonstrates the existance of an even older castle at this place. - Probably the acropolis of the ancient town of Rithymna. The interior of Fortezza accommodated the following basic buildings: the storeroom of the artillery, where canons and weapons were kept, the residence of the Councilors, where one of the city's two Venetian councilors lived, the residence of the Rector, which represented a luxurious, magnificent building in the central square of the fortress. Today parts of those buildings, as well as of some others built later, can be seen. The view from up there is magnificent, especially at night. The municipal theatre "Erofili" stands also at Fortezza's premises. It is an outdoor theatre that hosts almost all the performances during the Renaissance Festival.
Eleftherna (Eleutherna GR: Ελεύθερνα) is located on the foothills of Mount Psiloritis, in the heartland of Crete, 25 km. southeastern of Rethymnon. It was inhabited continuously from the Sub-Neolithic period (4th millennium BC) down to the 12th cent. AD and its rich history is now summarized by five hundred selected artifacts unearthed from houses, shrines, public buildings and tombs.
The Contemporary Art Museum of Crete was founded in 1992 as Municipal Gallery ‘L. Kanakakis'. It is housed in a Venetian building at the old city of Rethymno, below the Fortezza fortress and the Archaeological Museum. It houses a permanent exhibition of the work of Lefteris Kanakakis (oil paintings, sketches and aquarelles), thus representing all the stages of his achievements, as well as works of contemporary Greek artists, which cover a broad spectrum of modern Greek art as it has been accomplished from 1950 until today.
It is located just opposite the entrance of the fortress (Fortezza). It exhibits objects from the Neolithic to the Roman period, found at the prefecture of Rethymno (mainly Eleftherna, Monastiraki and Armeni). Clay figurines, funerary coffers, grave offerings, statues, grave steles, red-figure vases, bronze vessels, jewellery and glass vases, are some of the objects on display.
Nikos Xylouris (Greek: Νίκος Ξυλούρης, 7 July 1936 - 8 February 1980), nicknamed Psaronikos (Greek: Ψαρονίκος, "Grey Nick"), was a Greek composer lyra (Cretan lyre) player and singer from the town of Anogeia. He was part of the movement that brought down the Greek military Junta of 1967. His songs and music captured and described the Greek psyche and demeanor, gaining himself the title the archangel of Crete.
In winter the town of Rethymno lives in the rhythm of Carnival. Here, the grandest carnival on the island of Crete is organised. Apart from the great parade on Shrove Sunday, a large number of activities complete the framework of the Carnival festivities. The locals devotedly and cheerfully prepare for this season with creativity, they sacrifice their spare time and become young again while rejoicing and celebrating parties almost on a daily basis. More than 4,000 people have worked feverishly for months in order to present their masks and carriages on the great Carnival parade…The following day, on Shrove Monday people from the countryside play a leading part in the festivities. Unique traditions are revived in the villages and everybody is invited to participate in games, street performances and satires as for example “the kidnapping of the bride”, the “Cadi”, the “smudging of people”. These performances in combination with good wine and the music of the lyre are a successful formula for a unique experience. Links: www.carnivalrethymno.com
The Historical and Folklore Museum of Rethymno is located next to the Neratze Mosque. It is an institution of public benefit, founded in 1973 by the President of the Historical and Folklore Institution, Christoforos Stavroulakis, and Fali Vogiatzaki. The museum is housed in a restored Venetian building with an interior courtyard. The building is a wonderful piece of urban residence of the last phase of the Venetian occupation of Crete, built in the renaissance style by traditional craftsmen.