The old town of Rethymno is one of the best-preserved towns of the Renaissance. Lying in the heart of modern Rethymno , it combines the oriental features of the Turkish period with Renaissance-style Venetian architecture.After the Venetian conquest of Crete (1204), the town of Rethymno was built according to the rules of Venetian architecture. The original craftsmen were Venetians, but these later were replaced by Cretan murari, Venetian-trained master builders. The layout of Rethymno is directly linked to the sea, with the main Venetian street, the Ruga Maistra (today’s coastal Venizelou Avenue) running parallel to the sea. The opposite is true of Heraklio and Chania, where the town is closed to the sea for reasons of defense and the main street is at right angles to the coast.
The private mansions of Rethymno are not as impressive as those of Venice, mainly for financial reasons. Furthermore, the strong traditions of Cretan architecture could not be overcome, and Renaissance influences are most apparent on building facades.