NEWS

Rethymnon

Built in the 16th century on the rocky hill of the Palaiokastro (Old Castle), the Fortezza is the symbol of Rethymnon. Although upgrading and restoration works were begun in the early 1960s, many projects for restoring the buildings are pending, while some are under review, namely the roof of the Archaeological Museum housed in the Pentagonal Fortress Tower. Studies were conducted without securing the funds for them, and the Ministry of Culture and the municipality are discussing how to ensure adequate funding for the rest of the works. A history of the restoration works was provided in Kavala by Costas Giapitsoglou and Foteini Kougleri, archaeologist and architect at the 28th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities. A plan for a number of expropriations in the surrounding area to showcase the walls and the Spianada has been pending since 1993 due to lack of funds. The transfer of the Archaeological Museum to the Pentagonal Fortress Tower has proved to be unsuitable, as a recent examination discovered the skeleton structure of fortified concrete to be severely eroded and beyond repair. The Archaeological Museum was forced to seek new premises and will temporarily be housed in another building of the fortress. The Rector’s Residence – formerly a part of the prison that was annexed to the Rector’s Palazzo – is ready. Restoration works on the buildings took 12 years to complete and will house a permanent exhibition of Venetian Fortification Architecture. Restoration works were also conducted on the Mosque of Sultan Ibrahim, an imposing building that overlooks the city and whose main feature is the semi-circular dome, one of the largest in Greece. The open-air Erofili theater has drawn the inhabitants back into the fortress and found a champion in Aghios Ilias, as since 1987 the theater has hosted the Renaissance Festival. Restoration has also been completed at the fortress’s ammunition storehouse (a two-story building used as a temporary exhibition area), the Counsellor’s Residence (which housed the counsellor responsible for keeping order), where the 28th Ephorate houses its maintenance workrooms, and the bastion of Aghios Loukas – an L-shaped structure with vaulted rooms. «The main aim of the restoration plan for the buildings,» they explained, «is not only to showcase and preserve the historical character of the monument, but to give a new lease of life to the fortress so it may play an active role in the life of the city of which it is an inseparable part.»