Rethymnon is Crete's third-largest town, after Heraklion and Chania. The population (about 30,000) steadily increases as the town expands—a new quarter follows the coast to the east of the Old Town, where the beachfront has been tastelessly developed with large hotels and other resort facilities catering to tourists on package vacations. Nevertheless, much of Rethymnon's charm perseveres in the old Venetian quarter, which
is crowded onto a compact peninsula dominated by the huge, fortified Venetian castle known as the Fortezza. Wandering through the narrow alleyways, you come across handsome carved-stone Renaissance doorways belonging to vanished mansions, fountains, archways, and wooden Turkish houses with latticework screens on the balconies to protect the women of the house from prying eyes.