Rethymno Fortress

Rethymno, Greece

The Fortezza (fortress) is the citadel of the city of Rethymno in Crete. It is built on a hill which was the site of ancient Rhithymna's acropolis. Between the 10th and 13th centuries, the Byzantines established a fortified settlement to the east of the hill. It was called Castrum Rethemi, and it had square towers and two gates. The fortifications were repaired in the beginning of the 13th century.

Venetian era

Following the fall of Cyprus to the Ottomans in 1571, Crete became the largest remaining Venetian overseas possession. Since Rethymno had been sacked, it was decided that new fortifications needed to be built to protect the city and its harbour. The new fortress, which was built on the Paleokastro hill, was designed by the military engineer Sforza Pallavicini according to the Italian bastioned system.

Construction began on 13 September 1573, and it was complete by 1580. Although the original plan had been to demolish the old fortifications of Rethymno and move the inhabitants into the Fortezza, it was too small to house the entire city. The walls along the landward approach to the city were left intact, and the Fortezza became a citadel housing the Venetian administration of the city. It was only to be used by the inhabitants of the city in the case of an Ottoman invasion.

Ottoman era

On 29 September 1646, during the Fifth Ottoman–Venetian War, an Ottoman force besieged Rethymno, and the city's population took refuge in the Fortezza. Conditions within the citadel deteriorated, due to disease and a lack of food and ammunition. The Venetians surrendered under favourable terms on 13 November.

The Ottomans did not make any major changes to the Fortezza, except the construction of a ravelin outside the main gate. They also built some houses for the garrison and the city's administration, and they converted the cathedral into a mosque. The fort remained in use until the early 20th century.

Today

Large-scale restoration work has been under way since the early 1990s. The Fortezza is managed by the Ministry of Culture and Sports, and it is open to the public. The Ottoman ravelin now houses the Archaeological Museum of Rethymno.

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Details

Founded: 1573-1580
Category: Castles and fortifications in Greece

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ashley Fischer (7 months ago)
Truly one of the most beautiful and amazing places I’ve ever visited. Absolutely top 3 as a history lover. The views over the sea and island are amazing. I was the only one there in off season. Totally worth the 4€ entrance.
Manuel Walter (11 months ago)
It's a nice fortress, but to be honest: there is not so much to see. If you are there and you don't mind to spend 5 €, you may take a look. In about 15 min you have seen it all.
Mika (14 months ago)
Entrance is 3 euros. There are no discounts available. Don't go during mid day because it gets really hot there and there is very little shade. A lot of nice views and some buildings still left standing. However no information boards.
Valeria TheCurly (15 months ago)
I am not a huge fan of fortresses but this one is really cool. Nice walk and a few great top views of the city / port. Worth visiting. In the summer better go early in the morning or in the afternoon closer to 6-7pm
Patrick Clements (16 months ago)
Simply Awesome history. The Greek seem to casually wear their ancient legacy. There were Ottoman signs, Venetians and Minoan ruins for anyone to touch or visit.
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