See pictures from Rethymnon, Crete

I was born and raised in Rethymnon, a town of approximately 20,000, located on the north coast of the island of Crete, in Greece. Rethymnon is a world-known tourist destination, famous for its miles-long sandy beach and its history, which is still vividly evident in the numerous historical and archaeological sites that can be found throughout the city and the surrounding areas.

Since 1400 BC, the Minoans, Venetians, Turks and Cretans have built their ancient cities, minarets, citadels, the hilltop Fortezza, winding narrow streets, fishing harbor and lighthouse which create a unique old-world atmosphere. Rethymnon, the only well-preserved Renaissance town in Greece, is famous for its literature and arts. Its story was recorded in the book "The Tale of a Town" by the famous author Pantelis Prevelakis, who was quoted by Hemingway.

The city flourished under the Venetian rule and the Palazzos (mansions) of that era can still be seen in the old town today. The huge Venetian castle Fortezza, built in the 16th century to protect the city from pirates, overlooks the old harbor with its charming 13th century lighthouse. The annual summer-long Renaissance Festival is a major event that draws large crowds from the rest of Greece and Europe and acts as a reminder of the city's long and rich cultural past.

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