Rethymnon, Venetian harbour
Starting from the small Venetian harbour of Rethymnon, we can admire the 13th-century Venetian mole which once protected the harbour. This small breakwater with its high wall managed to face the wild waves of the Cretan Sea and survive the battle unharmed. It is in remarkably good condition despite the passage of so many centuries. Today there is a much larger breakwater outside it, with a new ferry port for ships to Piraeus and Santorini.
At the end of the mole stands the imposing lighthouse. This is not Venetian, however, as it was built by the Turks after the 17th century.
Along the quayside with its many fish tavernas, the row of similar frontages blends in with the Venetian buildings and later Turkish additions to form a picturesque whole.
The Venetian harbour of Rethymnon no longer provides moorings for Venetian galleys and Turkish warships, but the fishing boats rocking on the water make a serene and pretty picture. In summer the harbour is bustling with life, as the tavernas set their tables outside and invite passers-by to try their Greek or foreign cooking.
There are daily boat trips from Rethymnon to nearby beaches. Some of the boats look like old wooden sailing ships, complementing the nostalgic atmosphere of the Venetian harbour.
In winter the old harbour is a very different picture. There are no tourists and most of the tavernas are shut. But the caf at the end of the harbour is open all year round, and locals and students sit there to enjoy the winter sunshine.
The Venetian harbour of Rethymnon is the ideal starting-point for a tour of the old town or a visit to the Fortezza, the Venetian fortress of Rethymnon.