Destinations, Dodecanese Islands

Rhodes

Rhodes

The medieval walls and the old mills welcome the traveler who visits Rhodes. The only thing missing is the bronze statue of the titan god of the sun Helios, the famous Colossus of Rhodes, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, destroyed by an earthquake in 226 BC.

Rhodes is the largest medieval city in Europe. It was the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem who left a deeper footprint and built the walled city that still survives.

As soon as you enter through the Freedom (Eleftherias) Gate, it becomes clear that the old town of Rhodes is a mosaic of different cultures and civilizations, and getting lost in its labyrinthine alleys is like going back in time and exploring twenty-four centuries of history. The medieval fortresses, the narrow alleys, the fountains, the minarets, the quiet squares make one feel as if it were in

Medieval times. The Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes is undoubtedly the most emblematic building of the old town of Rhodes. The palace, originally a Byzantine fortress built at the end of the seventh century, became the 14th-century residence of the Grand Master of the Order of Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem and the administrative seat of his state and now serves as a museum.

The Street of Knights (Old Town) is full of medieval inns where the soldiers of the Order of the Knights were housed. At the end of the street, in the square of the museum is the hospital of the Knights that houses the archaeological museum of Rhodes. Across the square is the church of Panagia tou Kastrou (Our Lady of the Castle) that in Byzantine times was the Orthodox cathedral of Rhodes that became the Catholic cathedral when the knights occupied the city, nowadays is the Byzantine Museum of Rhodes.

In the Turkish quarter, you can visit the Mosque of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Mosque of Mustafa Pasha and the Turkish baths “Yeni Hammam” of the sixteenth century.

Outside the Walls of the Medieval City…

It is the new city with its Venetian, neoclassical and modern buildings. The most representative buildings reminiscent of the Italian period are the Post Office built by the architect Florestano de Fausto, the building of the Dodecanese Prefecture that was the governor’s palace, the Evangelismos church, the Town Hall and the National Theater.

At the northern end of the city of Rhodes, where most of the luxury hotels are located, you can enjoy the sun and the sea on the beach of Elli. Here is also the historic Grande Albergo delle Rose, which today functions like a casino.

It is also worth visiting the Aquarium, one of the most important marine research centers in Greece. On the other side of the city, you can visit Rodini Park, a real paradise with turkeys, streams, maples and pines. Rodini is the site of the famous Rhetoric School where distinguished Greeks and Romans studied, among them Julius Caesar, Cicero, Pompey, Brutus and Mark Antony. On the hill of San Stefanos (known as Mount Smith) is the Acropolis, one of the most important centers of worship, education and recreation in Rhodes. At the top of the hill are the remains of the Temple of Apollo, a Hellenistic stadium and a gym.

Going down to the east coast we find Kalithea and Faliraki beach, a cosmopolitan tourist center. A few minute’s drive from Faliraki is the village of Koskinou, a traditional village with its houses painted in bright colors and patios with pebbles decorated with ceramic dishes.

Ialissos is another resort ideal for windsurfers and kitesurfers. On the hill of Filerimos a few kilometers from Ialisos is the Monastery of the Virgin Mary and the ruins of an ancient Acropolis with the temples of Zeus and Athena from the 3rd century BC. Visitors to Filerimos can walk along the “Via Crucis” which leads to a huge crucifix. The view from there is breathtaking.

In the area of ​​Afandou you can enjoy the beach and for golf lovers, there is a golf course which is open all year round.

The valley of the butterflies is a spectacular landscape that attracts many visitors during the summer. The butterflies spend all summer in the valley, they mate and in September they leave, leaving their eggs in several places on the island. In April these eggs produce the small larva that turns into a chrysalis in May and reaches their adult state in early June.

When it begins to warm, they leave the place where they were born and begin their night trip to the valley where they will remain until September. They are attracted by the smell of the resin of the trees as well as by the freshness of the surroundings that does not change even on the hottest days of summer.

Another mythical place in the island of Rhodes is Lindos, whose temple of Athena Lindia of century IV a. C. was one of the most venerated of Ancient Greece. It is said that the Apostle Paul was shipwrecked in this bay.

At the foot of the Acropolis of Lindos lies the homonymous village of Lindos, with its white houses, mansions, Byzantine churches and narrow, cobbled streets. Following the path to the ancient walled acropolis, you can see the remains of buildings from the Byzantine era and the era of the Knights, such as the temple of Athena Lindia from the 4th century BC., the Propylaea, the great Hellenistic arcade, the Byzantine chapel of Agios Ioannis and the castle of the Knights of St. John.

In southern Rhodes, nature is revealed in all its vendors, from Kiotari and Genadi to Lahania, Plimiri and Prassonisi, the southern end of the island and a popular spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing. The villages of the area were built in medieval times, or even before, and still maintain their traditional color, just as their inhabitants still retain their local dialect, traditional customs and even the traditional decoration of their houses. Follow ancient paths and discover the beauty of the countryside and the magical landscape that rejuvenates your body and soul.

Rhodes is excellent for day trips to nearby islands:

Kastellorizo ​​(or Megisti) is the most easterly island in Greece, with a long and stormy history. Only 300 people live today on the island, but the city and its magnificent neoclassical houses reveal the ancient prosperity of the island.

Chalki with its old center of diving and sponge fishing. Chalki, was famous for its School of Theology, which unfortunately today is closed. Emporio, with its large houses and a picturesque promenade that offers fresh fish, is the only inhabited village on the island. Chorio and the Castle of the Knights are also worth visiting.

Symi is an hour by boat from Mandraki, the port of Rhodes. An island of sponge fishermen and sailors. Symi used to have 30,000 inhabitants before World War II and, despite its small size, was the richest island in the Dodecanese. Today Symi attracts many visitors thanks to its neoclassical buildings, well preserved, and the famous monastery of Archangel Michael in Panormitis.

– In the north-west of Rhodes lies Tilos, with its imposing mountains, rocky and steep coasts, beaches with crystal clear waters and medieval castles. The port of the island is located in Livadia, and from there you can visit the village of Micro Chorio (“Little Village”), abandoned since 1950. In Megalo Chorio (“Big Village”) you can visit the Museum of Paleontology, where you can see petrified skeletons of dwarf elephants.

For trekking lovers: Following impressive walking routes is the ideal way to discover the natural beauty of the island: try the two hour route from Filerimos to the coast through a magical pine forest, tour the Valley of the Butterflies (3 hours), go from the village of Salakos to the summit of Profitis Elias following an impressive route that takes 4 hours to complete, walk from the castle of Kritinia to the village through a lush green valley (4 hours). For experienced hikers, take the opportunity to conquer the top of Ataviros, a beautiful six-hour hike!

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