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.
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.
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.
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.
Loggia has been built during the 16th century and was designed by the famous architect Michel Snamicheli. Loggia was an eminent building of the city centre and has been a meeting point for the nobles to discuss political and economical issues. The building is very well preserved; it is square and has arches on its three sides (besides its west side). The consoles of its eaves are spectacular. During the Turkish occupation the loggia became a mosque and a minaret was constructed, which was later demolished in 1930. The past 40 decades the building of Loggia hosted the archaeological museum of the city, which has now moved to a building next to Fortezza. Today loggia hosts a market of archaeological art copies.
The church of Saint Francis is one of the most important monuments of Rethymno. It was the main temple of the Monastery of the Franciscan Order. The architecture of the building - a single aisle Basilica type with wooden roof - and its ornaments are very interesting. Next to the east side of the temple two deserted chapels are preserved. Its Corinthian style main doorway is impressive, with capitals of composite order. During recent excavations around the church valuable archeological findings have been discovered, including two tombs of Venetian nobles. During the Turkish occupation the temple was turned into an "Imaret" (a shelter for the poor). It was also used as a cultural center until 1996. It was recently renovated to accommodate the Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Collection of the Prefecture of Rethymno.
The Institute for Mediterranean Studies (IMS) based in Rethymno, Crete, was founded in 1985 and belongs to the research units of the Foundation for Research and Technology, Hellas (FORTH). The IMS is the only FORTH centre which deals with the human and social sciences. The purpose of IMS is to support and invigorate research in the field of the human and social sciences, as well as to promote the application of advanced technologies in the field. The IMS possesses a fully equipped Laboratory of Geophysical-Satellite Remote Sensing (GIS) & Archaeo-environment, specialized in archaeological research. The Library of the Institute is focused on Turkish Studies and Art History. In the Library archival material, as well as collections of Greek and foreign newspapers in digital form and microfilms are kept. The objective of the IMS's research programs is to study the geographical space, the history and culture of Greece and the other Mediterranean countries in various historical periods, from prehistory to modern times. In order to achieve these objectives, the research projects of the Institute are organized along the following axes: Turkish Studies History Studies Art History History of the Theatre - Ethnomusicology The Laboratory of Geophysical-Satellite Remote Sensing & Archaeo-environment Its activities concern the field of geophysical research, the satellite remote sensing, the Geo-information technologies and the archaeo-environment, with emphasis on the Mediterranean region. The Laboratory is a member of international organisations such as EPOCH, EARSel. and AGILE and participates in a number of joint research and technology programs in Greece and abroad (e-Content, INTERREG, ARCHIMED, ETPA, PEWNED, EPEAEK, INSTAP, LIFE, Region of Crete). The research programs of the Institute are carried out by its permanent researchers and collaborating faculty members. In the frame of these research programs are prepared PhD Thesis and other diplomas which are submitted to the higher educational institutions with which IMS collaborates and, particularly, to the University of Crete, the Technical University of Crete and the Technological Educational Institute of Crete. The IMS supports education at post-graduate and post-doctoral level with a considerable number of annual scholarships, thus contributing to attract a steady flow of young researchers and to promote research in the field of humanities at the periphery. The IMS maintains close academic links with various international research foundations (Cyprus, Turkey, Bulgaria, Italy, France, Spain, England, Belgium, Tunesia, Egypt, China, USA, a.o.). The IMS is administered by a director and a five member academic council (A.C.). It is housed in wholly-owned premises comprising of two listed buildings in the old town of Rethymno. The core of one edifice dates back to the Venetian period (13th - 17th century). Links: www.ims.forth.gr/