Rethymno – An Accessible City

Rethymno – An Accessible City


The Municipality of Rethymno was composed in 2011 from the merge of the municipality of Arkadi, Lappaion, Nikiforou Foka and Rethymno with approximately 62.000 population. 


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Objective Action

The Municipality of Rethymno and the Municipality of Ayia Napa, from the Cypriot side with the National Confederation of Disabled People (NCDP), from the Greek side, after the approval of their proposal submitted under the third call of "Cross-Border Cooperation Programme Greece Cyprus", implements the project entitled "Agia Napa - Rethymno: Universally Accessible Cities" to promote “Tourism for all”.

The main objectives are:

Prevent social exclusion of disabled people: ensuring accessibility can substantially contribute to the quality of life upgrade for the disabled people
Promoting cultural heritage: The implementation of the project will promote the archaeological sites of the city in the large group of visitors with disabilities, which is difficult to approach due to lack of infrastructure
Touristic development: The development of accessible cultural spaces contributes to the increase of visitors as the disabled people form a special group of tourists who choose their destinations with certain criteria

Digital convergence: Website development ( where visitors can gather information about the site and the area, get informed about the nearest tourist destinations and find suitable accommodation.


Target Audience

Target groups of the project were the disabled citizens and tourists which live and visit the areas where the actions have been implemented. Due to the size of Crete, the project results to the disabled people can be generalized to the whole extend of the island. A survey showed that 18.2% of the country's population is experiencing health problems or disabilities with this number reaching 80million in Europe – with 50% of those travelling and accompanied by 1.56 people on average. Beneficiaries of the project interventions should be impaired people (elderly, pregnant, etc.) with similar needs as those of the disabled.



The entire duration of this project started in 2013 and the implementation of the interventions was completed by the middle of 2015 ready for public use. The traffic signal countdown intervention was completed early 2018.


The project’s main objective is to provide quality in the public space, to serve the citizens’ and visitors’ needs of the city and to create a city accessible for all. The Municipality of Rethymno focused on actions to improve accessibility in the urban environment and the beaches. The actions included accessibility improvements to the City Hospital, to the main archaeological site of the city (Fortezza Fortress) and to a municipal building (museum of Contemporary Art Kanakaki). In the framework of the project, equipment for access of disabled people to 5 beaches of the Municipality, and warning systems for visually impaired people placed in all the traffic lights of the city of Rethymno, was conducted. Information actions were carried out, including a 2-day event. Finally, the printing/ reproduction of the promotion material of the project was conducted in Greek, English and Braille languages for blind as well audiovisual material DVD and CD accessible to all.

The above interventions lead Rethymno to be characterised as one of the 30 most accessible cities in Europe in the framework of the Access City Award. An integrated network for the disabled service brought this outcome. Rethymno has been characterized as “Heaven on Earth for the disabled people” in the disabled blog.

All the actions were fully funded by the program and were approximately €350.000.


Impact on Society

The increase in the movement of disabled and blind people as well as the comfort in their movement is a new reality for the Municipality of Rethymno, through a network of 17.5 km of new footpaths with Tactile paving guidance, access ramps and efficient width and all specifications for the movement without discrimination for all citizens. In the near future, there will be an increase in the tourism of disabled people with positive impact on the local economy.

The change in people’s mentality is significant since they respect the fellow citizens. The fatal accidents have reduced by 80% over the last decade since the actions implementation, which is a significant progress achieved in respecting our fellow citizens.

Initiative Location

The project was implemented in Rethymno and despite the fact that the interventions were implemented spatially focused on the boundaries of the Municipality, the results and benefits touched the wider areas. Through the interventions, an integrated accessible network for the disabled people was developed.


Working with Organization

The Municipality of Ayia Napa and the Municipality of Rethymno were the partners for this project. The municipality of Rethymno cooperated closely with the Disabled Association in Rethymno in the design and implementation of the actions.

The Implementing Agency for the project actions was the Technical Service department of the municipality of Rethymno. The relevant license for the actions implementation was provided by the suitable services (environmental, archaeological services, etc.) which cooperate with the municipality.


Workers Participation

A number of consultants for the planning and contractors for the implementation cooperated together during the implementation of the project for enhancing the accessibility in the Municipality of Rethymno. A person in charge of the project was appointed for monitoring, planned actions, timetables and critical points of implementation. The employees of the Technical Service department of the Municipality of Rethymno from planning, preparation, auctioning to communication with subcontractors and designers, succeeded in implementing the Project. The Implementing Agency for the project actions was the Technical Service department of the municipality of Rethymno. The relevant license for the actions implementation was provided by the suitable services (environmental, archaeological services, etc.) which cooperate with the municipality.


Benefits for Οrganization

The main benefits for the municipality are the experience and knowledge gained during the implementation of all these measures as well as the development of team spirit within the municipality and between the municipality and politicians.

Connection with Global Goals

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