Rethymno is regarded as the wildest region of Crete, featuring the island’s highest peak (Mt Psiloritis), lush gorges, deep caves and some of the most isolated beaches of Greece. “Rithymna”, with a history dated back to Late Minoan times, emerged as an autonomous state around 4th century B.C. It lost its power and importance during Roman and Byzantine times and flourished again under Venetian rule, when it transformed into an important commercial city and cultural center. Rethymno remained a metropolis of crucial importance under the Turkish command but it was also a base of resistance to Turkish rule, resulting in severe reprisals. Crete finally gained its independence by the end of 19th century and attached to Greece by 1913 – Rethymno then experienced a new era of development, even though it has never grown as crowded a city as Heraklion and Chania.
This fact allowed Rethymno to preserve its unique character and establish an ideal balance between a developed urban area and a more human-friendly city. Today, Rethymno stands between a 15th century fortress (Fortezza) and the transparent azure water of the Mediterranean Sea and ensures a run with beautiful contrasts.
Our run will begin at Venizelou Square, situated between Venetian Port and modern harbor. We will run by the seaside, having an amazing view of the Cretan Sea. Sometimes rough, sometimesserene, its fresh breeze will escort us past hotels and modern infrastructures. After these first 5 kilometers, we will leave the seaside behind in order to run our way through the modern city. We will pass in front of the famous Cathedral of Four Martyrs (well singed by the local muse), Municipal Garden and Venetian Porta Guora, which will lead us to the multicolored maze of the Old Town. There, we will run through the Venetian-Ottoman quarter with the floral canopies and the elegant balconied houses adding an exotic atmosphere to the city and transporting us into another era. Venetian Loggia, Rimondy Fountain, House of Culture, the impressive Ottoman minaret are only some of the many magical details making Rethymno so unique.
Also we can mention its stylish shopping district, the excellent restaurants, the students’ bars, the traditional kafeneia, and so many other minute things that, put together, conform a magical kaleidoscope. After some 3 kilometers, full of pictures, noises and smells we will climb on the massive Fortezza Castle that prevails over the city and offers the visitor an amazing view. We will run downhill again towards the seaside, leaving Old Town behind us and running by Sohora Stadium, Municipal Swimming Pool and abandoned industrial infrastructures. Psiloritis Mountain and the White Mountains are appearing far away at the horizon, promising another interesting run… But somewhere there, our run is about to end. We are getting close to city’s exit, so we will have to turn around in order to return back to where we have started some hour before. Running once again by the seaside, we will surpass Fortezza, to get by Venetian Port with its famous Lighthouse (one of the most known landmarks of Rethymno) and Venizelou Square. What’s more – we can always run the last part of our tour barefoot on the sandy beach right in the city before we dive into the azure waters of Cretan Sea. Can you imagine a better closing of a beautiful run?