RETHYMNON - VILLAGES
Many picturesque, authentic and unspoiled villages can be found in the prefecture of Rethymnon as well as a few calm and pleasant tourist resorts located near wonderful beaches. Anogia, Spili, Agia Galini and Plakias are among the most traditional villages of Rethymnon.
Rethymnon is the capital and the commercial center of the prefecture of Rethymnon located 50 miles east of Heraklion and 37 miles west of Chania. It counts on 20,000 inhabitants. As Rethymnonn has a university, it stays lively all year round. The beautiful town of Rethymnon stands on the site of the ancient city of Rythimna that many excavations have revealed. The town combines an old time aristocratic appearance with a modern facet, captivating all visitors with its traditional layout and rich cultural heritage. The old town is built around the impressive Venetian fortress, Fortezza, and retains its elegance and unique architecture with the arches, the beautiful churches and the Turkish fountains. Various elements add to the charm of this attractive town including the arched doorways, the Hellenic and Roman remains, the municipal gardens and the beautiful Venetian buildings. The modern town of Rethymnon offers a vast range of tourist facilities and lies around the natural bay. There you will find many seaside taverns and restaurants on the busy waterfront as well as all types of accommodations and local shops. In the heart of the town lies the picturesque Venetian port, the most romantic spot in Rethymnon. The most important sights to visit are the Municipal Garden, the Mosques, the Archaeological Museum and the Venetian fortress that dominates the town.
Anogia is considered one of the most attractive, picturesque mountainous villages of Crete. It stands at an altitude of 2,500 feet on Mount Psiloritis, the highest mountain of Crete, and about 30 miles east of Rethymnon Town. Due to its secluded location, the village retains its strong authentic character, the local customs, traditional costumes and its old Cretan dialect. The village was burned by the Turks during the Ottoman occupation; and in 1944, German forces destroyed every building except the church and killed all the men in Anogia as a payback for the kidnapping of the German General Von Kreipe by the local resistance fighters. Worth visiting is the 12th century church of Saint John, with its beautiful frescoes and icons.
The village of Anogia is one of the major handicraft and cottage industry centers of Crete and the woven and embroidered articles produced have superb motifs, which are unique to the village. It is interesting to visit one of the many workshops open to the public and observe articles being woven on large looms. Many traditional cafes and taverns can be found in the narrow streets of Anogia.
Agia Galini is a pretty coastal village lying around the sheltered bay of Messara, which opens to the Libyan Sea. The village is located 35 miles southeast of Rethymnon town and 46 miles from Heraklion. Its picturesque port is quite busy during the summer season where boats depart for Agios Georgios, Preveli and the nearby islets. The attractive village has numerous restaurants, taverns, bars, clubs, cafes and shops. Narrow cobbled alleys start from the port and make their way inside the picturesque village and old houses perched one above the other against a steep cliff add to the beautiful setting. A gorgeous pebbled beach stretches over half a mile in front of the village and a nudist beach in close distance. On the eastern side of the bay, where the village coils up, many marine caves hide in the rocky shores and can be visited by boats that regularly leave from the port of Agia Galini. Those wonderful caves are really worth the visit because of the astonishing light effects created by the rays of the sun on the blue sea. Frequent boat excursions are organized to the southern part of Crete.
Atsipopoulo is a nice suburb of Rethymnonn Town, only 3 miles from the center. Located close to the borders of Rethymnonn and Chania, the lovely village offers a unique atmosphere from the Venetian times. Houses in Atsipopoulo were constructed in close distance so as to form a fortification wall. This way the inhabitants were protected from pirates and other enemies. This traditional architecture is preserved today as most houses were renovated. Visitors are amazed by the many churches of Atsipopoulo, the picturesque arched paths and the stone houses. Some of these houses have been turned into villas and hotels.
Plakias is a traditional fishing village located 25 miles south of Rethymnon town. The village welcomes numerous visitors who are charmed by this pretty and picturesque settlement. The sandy beach stretches for almost a mile with amazing crystalline waters. Some superb beaches can also be found in the surrounding area, such as the coves of Souda, Amoudi and Damioni, with white sand and appealing crystal clear waters. Plakias is considered as one of the most beautiful villages of Crete offering plenty of restaurants and fish taverns, lively bars and clubs and sunny cafes. Boats depart regularly for the famous Preveli Monastery, the imposing Frangokastello and the coastal village of Agia Galini from the port of Plakias.