Rethymno Paleontological Museum

Table of contents:
General infoMapWrite a review!

Location: Town
Don't miss: Museums guide (free admission dates and other useful info)

The Paleontological Museum of Rethymno, a branch of the Goulandris Natural History Museum, is housed in the Veli Pasha Mosque and presents a significant part of the evolutionary process in Crete over a time span of 300 million years.

The Veli Pasha Mosque, also known as Mastaba Mosque, is an architectural gem in itself. It was built in the middle of the 17th century, shortly after the fall of Rethymno to the Ottomans, on the site of a pre-existing church dedicated to Saint Onuphrius. It stands out for its elaborate roof, which is topped by six small domes, while there are another three domes over the portico. The complex consists of thirteen cells, a tekke and a tall minaret. Constructed in 1789, this minaret is the oldest one in Rethymno Town. The Mastaba Mosque was heavily damaged by bombings during the Second World War but was restored in the early 2000s.

Since 2008, the Mastaba Mosque has been housing the Paleontological Museum, which displays the paleontological collection of the Municipality of Rethymno. Through a series of exhibits, real-scale representations, informative texts, maps and photos, visitors can discover a wealth of interesting facts about the evolutionary process in Crete, as well as about geological and paleontological changes that took place in pre-historic times.

Among the most notable findings are bones of endemic mammals, such as Cretan dwarf elephants, dwarf hippopotamuses estimated to have lived on the island 11,000-13,500 years ago, as well as a number of Cretan deer species. The most remarkable exhibits concern, perhaps, dwarf deer, which reached a height of 70-80 centimeters and had peculiar club-shaped antlers. It is this deer that figures in the museum’s logo.

The museum is surrounded by a lush garden covering a surface of approximately half an acre. This garden is a great place for a walk, as it is covered with verdant bitter oranges, plane and Judas trees, olives, carobs, Cretan palm trees, oleanders, and laurels. The idyllic landscape is completed by various aromatic bushes, such as dog roses, lavender, dittany, chaste trees, and rosemary.

The Paleontological Museum of Rethymno organizes various guided tours and educational programs, and is open from Monday to Saturday, 09:00-15:00.



    No reviews yet.
    Be the first to write one!