General

Kournas Lake

Is the only freshwater lake in Crete. Lake Kournas was known as Lake Koressia in antiquity but later took its current name from the Arabic word for lake.

The lake is in a beautiful landscape, lying in a valley among the hills, about 4 km from Georgioupolis in Chania Prefecture (west Crete).

Lake Kournas is relatively small, with a maximum length of 1,087 m and a maximum breadth of 880 m. It covers an area of 579,000 sq. m. and is generally shallow, 22.5 m at its deepest point, while it lies approximately 20 m above sea level.

Kournas Lake is the ideal place for an afternoon walk or a daytrip nearby. Many people like to have an afternoon picnic there. The landscape is lovely and relaxing, whether you want to go for a walk in the countryside, swim or ride a pedalo on the lake.

There are two springs on the southeast bank, one of which, the Mati or Amati (“eye”) as the locals call it, is visible in late summer. The lake is fed by streams from the nearby mountains and hills, whose underground courses are interrupted by the local bedrock on the way to the sea

The town of Rethymnon

This region as a whole is rich with ancient history, most notably through the Minoan civilisation centred at Kydonia east of Rethymno. Rethymno itself began a period of growth when the Venetian conquerors of the island decided to put an intermediate commercial station between Heraklion and Chania, acquiring its own bishop and nobility in the process. Today’s old town (palia poli) is almost entirely built by the Republic of Venice. It is one of the best-preserved old towns in Crete.

From circa 1250 the city was the see of the Latin Diocese of Venice, which was renamed Retimo–Ario after the absorption in 1551 of the Diocese of Ario and as suppressed only after the Turkish conquest.

The town still maintains its old aristocratic appearance, with its buildings dating from the 16th century, arched doorways, stone staircases, Byzantine and Hellenic-Roman remains, the small Venetian harbour and narrow streets. The Venetian Loggia houses the information office of the Ministry of Culture and Sport. A Wine Festival is held there annually at the beginning of July. Another festival, in memory of the destruction of the Arkadi Monastery, is held on 7–8 November.

The city’s Venetian-era citadel, the Fortezza of Rethymno , is one of the best-preserved castles in Crete. Other monuments include the Neratze mosque (the Municipal Odeon arts centre), the Great Gate (Μεγάλη Πόρτα or “Porta Guora”), the Piazza Rimondi and the Loggia.

The town was captured by the Ottoman Empire in 1646 during the Cretan War (1645-69) and they ruled it for almost three centuries. The town, called Resmo in Turkish, was the centre of a sanjak (administrative part of a province) during Ottoman rule.

During the Battle of Crete (20–30 May 1941), the Battle of Rethymno was fought between German paratroopers and the Second Australion Imperial Force and Hellenic Army. Although initially unsuccessful, the Germans won the battle after receiving reinforcements from Maleme in the Northwestern part of the island

Today the city’s main income is from tourism, many new facilities having been built in the past 20 years. Agriculture is also notable, especially for olive oil and other Mediterranean products

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