The west side of the peninsula on which Rethymnon sits is taken up almost entirely with this massive fortress, strategically surrounded by the sea and thick ramparts. Entering the fortress is a bit of a letdown, because the high, well-preserved walls enclose not much more than a vast empty space occupied by a few scattered buildings—a mosque, two churches, and abandoned barracks that once housed the town brothels and are surrounded by fields of wildflowers in spring.
After a small fortress on the site failed to thwart a 1571 attack of 40 pirate galleys, Venetians conscripted 100,000 forced laborers from the town and surrounding villages to build the huge compound. It didn't fulfill its purpose of keeping out the Turks: Rethymnon surrendered after a three-week siege in 1646.
West end of town, Rethymnon, Crete, 74100, Greece