Venetian Fortress

sights / Military

Venetian Fortress information

Prices
adult/senior/family €4/3/10
Opening hours
8am-8pm Jun-Oct, 10am-5pm Nov-May
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Lonely Planet review

Built between 1573 and 1580, Rethymno’s fortress cuts an imposing presence on a rocky headland above the historic quarter. Its construction was a reaction to multiple pirate raids and the mounting threat from the Turks. Despite its massive bastions and ramparts, though, it proved ineffective in staving off the Turkish invasion of 1646 and collapsed after a 22-day siege.

Inside the battlements, the most interesting feature is a meticulously restored square mosque , converted by the Turks from a Venetian cathedral. Its architecture is lovely, especially the dome, held up by eight arches, and the ornate mihrab (a niche that points in the direction of Mecca). The pint-sized church near the east gate is of more recent vintage (1899) and commemorates the eviction of the Turks. Also within the compound is the Erofili Theatre , a modern amphitheatre surrounded by pine trees; it gets busiest during the Renaissance Festival.

The entrance to the fortress is through the eastern gate.