Ships and Ferries to Rethymno in the Crete IslandTravel Information for ferries to Rethymno. Rethymno - Crete Island
RETHYMNO > ARCHITECTURE
A notable characteristic of the island is the position of the three main towns of the island, Hania - Rethymnon - Heraklion, on the northern coastline overlooking the Aegean Sea. These towns were inhabited from ancient times and the development of the architectural styles has been continuous. The majority of villages and settlements are located on higher ground up to 800 m.
The houses located in mountainous areas are built amphitheatrically or located at the top of a hill creating a natural defence from the pirate invaders. The amphitheatrical plan of the villages follows the contours of the landscape and at the centre have: a church, a main square and a kafeneion. Some villages have closely built houses for protection, whilst others, that were not threatened, are spread out. The settlements are at one with their environment and are separated into three distinct neighbourhoods: upper village - middle village - lower village.
There were very few settlements on the shoreline during the 19th century due to the pirate invaders. Inhabitants lived within the fortified towns or in the higher placed villages. After the end of the 19th century the coastal Venetian castles were inhabited: Agios Nikolaos - Mirambello Castle, Sitia, Paleohora - Selino Castle, Panormo - Milopotamo Castle. Apart from the fortresses protecting the main ports there were additional fortifications in the form of Castelli built in strategically important locations: Kastellia Gramvoussa, Spinalonga, Frangokastelli. Significant indications of Cretan architecture renewal are the Venetian towers scattered about the Cretan countryside where their owners controlled their lands and servants.
If the fortifications, the castelli and the Venetian towers are indications of strength and leadership then the fountains, the loggias, the clock towers, the squares and monuments in Heraklion, Rethymnon and Hania are evidence of distinguished majesty. The renaissance architecture influenced the architecture of the inhabitants, the churches and monasteries: Arkadi Monastery - Holy Trinity Monastery at Akrotiri are examples. The Venetian neighbourhoods of Rethymnon and Chania have been maintained with houses, a small sample of the few that have remained in Greece. In the countryside there are a few Venetian houses, towers and villas and as well as sculpted stone gateways, olive presses and farmhouses with thatched roofs in some Cretan villages.
The basic thatched houses combine all its functions in one area with a corner fireplace that is used for cooking and heating. An upper level (attic) is used for sleeping and the area below it is used for storage. The roof is made of oblong wooden planks and if the house needs to be extended a wooden wall is built to support the roof, usually this is later replaced with a stone built arch. This arch separates the house creating two rooms. This type of house can be found all over Crete. Another stage of change is the building of an L-shaped wall which turns the house into a two storey structure. This type of house can be found in Hora Sfakion and coastal areas close by. They are painted white with brightly coloured window frames, shutters and doors.
Most of the western part of the island has houses with tiled roofs, some with an external staircase leading to the upper level of the bedrooms. The yard is enclosed by high walls with an entrance doorway. All the openings have curved stone eaves to protect them from the rain. These, as well as the cornerstones, are the Venetian influence on local architectural styles.
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