RÉTHYMNON remains one of the most beautiful of Crete’s major cities (only Haniá is a serious rival), with an enduringly provincial air. A wide sandy beach and palm-lined promenade border the old town, a labyrinthine tangle of Venetian and Turkish houses where ancient minarets lend an exotic air to the skyline. Dominating everything from the west is the superbly preserved outline of the fortress built by the Venetians after a series of pirate raids had devastated the town.

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