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Greece Crete Rethymnon Prefecture About Rethymnon Prefecture
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About Rethymnon Prefecture, Crete Greece

The Prefecture of Rethymnon covers the central part of Crete; its extent is 1496 square kilometers , the coast line 200 kilometers approximately, and it counts circa 82.000 permanent residents. It is divided in three provinces: Rethymnis, Aghiou Vasiliou and Mylopotamou. Rethymnon is the capital city of the prefecture.

The major part of the prefecture's territory is mountainous, with the mountain Idi, or Psiloritis (meaning "high mountain") to be the highest mountain (2.456metres); at the rest there are small plains and valleys very fertile, and well watered, due to the various small rivers and brooks flowing through them, which, as occurs in Chania, do have enough water even in summer.

The area has a magnificent natural environment; apart from the small rivers and brooks here and there, here too, there are lakes and lagoons, caves and rocks, as well as several gorges both at the North and at the South. The most famous area of natural beauty is the Preveli lagoon, at the South.
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Rethymnon is a place full of contrasts, with a long history going back to the Neolithic times, with nature left intact in many areas, with a vivid living tradition. The old town of Rethymnon with the Renaissance style centre, the Fortetza, the museums and the endless beach will certainly charm you. And what to recommend about the rest of the prefecture? The scenic villages, the caves, the beaches, or the mountains? And what to say about the people? They will be your friends; they will offer you a "tsikoudia" and may be they will receive you at their homes.

As in the whole island, visiting the villages of the inland is a magic experience, both for the landscape and for their character: most of them are not affected by tourism, they maintain their traditional features in what concerns the architecture and their residents proudly maintain their traditional way of life. It is in those villages that the visitor can understand the special characteristics of the Cretan people, experience the hospitality and taste and smell the spirit of the area. Moreover, in the villages of the prefecture, the visitor can attend a wide range of cultural activities (as the "Yakintheia" in Anoghia), where tradition is blended with everyday life, forming the actual face of culture.

Going from one village to another by car or motorbike is, in most cases, one of the attractions of the place. The secondary roads leading to them pass through sites extremely scenic and beautiful, and driving, or even walking there, is an unforgettable experience.

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Rethymnon prefecture has coasts at the North, in the Aegean Sea and at the South, in the Libyan Sea. Most of the beaches at the North and West are sandy, with no considerable protected bays. As a result, they are open to the northern winds and much affected by the "meltemia"(northern summer winds) during July and August.

The southern coasts are open to the South, with no bays, apart from that of Plakias, relatively protected. Several of them sandy and some of them pebbly, the beaches have crystal clear blue water and very interesting seabed, ideal for snorkelling and underwater activities. Swimming starts earlier in the South, where the weather is a bit warmer.

The territory of the prefecture is crossed, from West to East, by the last part of the European path E4, which passes through the whole of Europe and Greece and ends up at Crete; in the island the path starts from Kissamos (Kastelli) and ends up at Siteia in the Eastern part.

Rethymnon is a wealthy place. Along with the traditional agricultural and cattle breeding activities, which used to be the main occupations of the locals in the past, tourism is today one of the main economic resources. The area attracts a lot of visitors all year round, both Greeks, for business or vacation, and from abroad. The University is an additional factor of prosperity for the prefecture in general and the city of Rethymnon in particular.
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The history of the area starts as early as the Neolithic times. As excavations in various sites have shown it had flourished during the Minoan period, whereas during the Venetian domination of the island, it had played a very important role too. As it happens with the rest of the island, it had been the centre of numerous revolts during the Ottoman domination, as the independent character of Cretan people could not stand being under the yoke of any foreigner. During the World War II, following the tradition, the people had strongly resisted to the German occupation; it is characteristic that the village of Anoghia had been totally destroyed and all the male population was persecuted and, when found, executed by the Germans.

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