Archaeological Museum of Rethimno
The Archaeological Museum of Rethimno belongs to the national Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities Conservancy. Since 1991 it is housed in the pentagon building in front of the main gate of the Fortezza fortress. The exhibits present the history of the Prefecture from the Neolithic to the Roman period. They are exhibited in chronological order and by excavation site.
It is located 20 km SE of Rethimno in a lush green landscape full of oak trees, kermes oak trees, pine trees and vineyards. Built in 1587, its architecture is influenced in various ways by the early renaissance, the gothic and classic style as well as the early baroque style. At first, it acquired reputation as a center for copying Greek manuscripts, a work the monks of the monastery had been in charge of. At the same time, it was also renowned for the elaborately embroidered canonicals it produced. On November 8th 1866 an army of 15,000 Turks equipped with 30 canons and under the command of Souleiman Bey besieged the monastery, where 325 armed fighters with their wives and children (964 persons in total including the monks) had found shelter. They blew up the power ked so as not to become slaves of the enemy. After the liberation the monastery was reconstructed according to its original form. Therefore, the building the visitors see today is not very different from the original one. The monastery houses a museum with an exhibition of findings from the "Arkadi holocaust", heirlooms, weapons, icons, an ossuary, etc.
A guided tour of the Prefecture of Rethimnon should definitely include a visit to Eleutherna, the area where the finds of the homonymous ancient city are found. It is not known when the city was actually built but according to scientists there must have been life in the area in the Geometric period, that is 970-820 B.C. It was built on a hill and enclosed with a wall parts of which still survive today. There was a long entrance like a bridge and a tower which protected the sole entrance to the city which was considered impregnable. The aquaduct and reservoirs which were found give evidence of the city’s organization and the level of civilization of the inhabitants. On the north side of the hill there was a temple, possibly that of Apollo, which was used A.D. by Christians for religious purposes. Sculpted tombs on the cliffs and carved sarcophaguses give us information about the civilization of ancient Eleutherna. Eleutherna experienced prosperity during the Roman and Early Byzantine Age. It was one of the most powerful independent cities. Its inhabitants were occupied with trade, agriculture and shipping and the port which was used is surmised to have been the bay of Fodele. Its development becomes obvious from its bridges which surround it and comprise samples of advanced architecture. As an independent power, it provided its own currency, whose one side was decorated by Apollo and the other by Artemes. As an independent city it developed rivalry with Knossos resulting in a war breaking out in 222 B.C. against it and in the same year becoming an ally in the civil war of the cities of Crete. From Eleutherna originates Diogenes Apolloniates, the physicist who lived in the 5th century B.C. and was a student of Anaximenus.