Rhodes: The island of the knights

The capital of the Dodecanese and the fourth largest Greek island after Crete, Evia and Lesvos, is consistently one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece. An island of intense contrasts, Rhodes harmoniously combines the medieval with the traditional element, the lacy beaches with the pine-covered mountains, mountain villages with coastal settlements, archeological sites, medieval monuments, sculptures and cosmopolitan tourist resorts. every expectation.

Its rich history is pervasive in every corner of the island since every conqueror who passed by left its mark. The island flourished in the 4th century. BC, when the famous Colossus was erected, the work of Lindios Haris, a student of Lysippos. After the catastrophic earthquake of 155 AD. Persians, Arabs, Saracens and Seljuks settled on the island, while in 1309 the Knights of St. John arrived on the island, who renovated the castle with a unique fortification in Europe. It was their seat until 1522, when it was conquered by the Turks. In 1912 it passed to the Italians and in 1948 it was incorporated with the rest of the Dodecanese into Greek territory.

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The medieval city, the island’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is built semicircularly around the main port. It was founded in 408 BC. and consists of the fortified medieval (old) city and the new city with the old, neoclassical and newer buildings. In the Old Town of Rhodes dominates the Palace of the Grand Master (14th century), the “Castello”, one of the first buildings built by the knights, while a walk is required on the famous Knights Street that has been faithfully restored to the form it had medieval years. Along it were the houses of those who formed the Order of the Knights of St. John.

From Hippocrates Square start two of the most central streets of the Old Town: Aristotelous Street, which leads east to the Jewish Martyrs’ Square, and Socratous Street, the busy street of the old market. At the top of Socratous Street dominates the Suleymaniye Mosque, built by Sultan Suleiman immediately after the capture of Rhodes. At the point where Socratous Street meets Orpheus Street is the clock tower, built by Fekhti Pasha in 1857 and today serves as a bar. From the top of the tower you can enjoy a magnificent view to the Old Town. In the Archaeological and Byzantine Museum (housed in the building of the Hospital of the Knights and in Panagia tis Niki, respectively) you can admire important finds and relics that testify to the rich history of the island.

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Outside the city walls lies the new city, which is dominated by impressive buildings built during the Italian occupation, such as the Post Office, the Prefecture (referring to the Doge’s Palace in Venice), the City Hall, the National Theater and the Church. of the Gospel. A walk in Mandraki, the small port with the statues of deer, is required while next to it is the marina with the Mills and the Lighthouse of Agios Nikolaos. In the southernmost part of the city you will find the Aquarium, the configuration of which resembles a sea underground cave, which hosts marine species of the Aegean. On the other side of town you can visit Rodini, a magnificent park with peacocks, running water and trails between pines and cypresses. Rodini is known to have hosted the so-called Rhetorical School of Rhodes, where personalities such as Julius Caesar and Cicero studied. On the hill of Agios Stefanos or Monte Smith – the citadel of ancient Rhodes – are preserved, among others, the ancient stadium, the conservatory and the temple of Pythian Apollo.

North of the island you will find the area of ​​Kallithea, where you can visit:

-Koskinou: a preserved traditional settlement with colorful Rhodesian houses decorated with ceramic dishes and textiles.
-The famous bath facilities of Kallithea, with the impressive Rotunda, the vaulted building of the thermal springs. The springs have been known since ancient times for the healing properties of the “red water” that gushed from here and were used in 1929 by the Italians.
-Wonderful beaches, such as Faliraki, Kallithea and small coves such as Ladikos (where in 1961 the film “The cannons of Navarrone”) and Anthony Quinn were shot.

The area of ​​Ialyssos (or Trianta) is today one of the most popular and cosmopolitan resorts on the island with state-of-the-art hotel units and vibrant nightlife. The acropolis of Ialyssos was the home of the Olympian Diagoras and one of the three powerful cities of ancient Rhodes along with Lindos and Kameiro. Today, on the busy Ialyssos Avenue, you will see the neoclassical mansions (“towers”), where the wealthy Rodites were vacationing.

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Be sure to visit:

-The archeological site of the acropolis of ancient Ialyssos, on the hill of Filerimos, with a plethora of monuments, among which stand the temple of Athena Poliados, the Doric fountain, the temple of the Knights and the chapel of St. George of Hostos.

-The impressive monastery of Panagia Filerimou with the large cobbled courtyard and the stone church of Gothic style (15th century)

-The road to Golgotha, with the cypress and stone columns bearing representations with the Passion of Christ. The road ends at a large cross.

-The beach of Ialyssos with the clear blue waters. The meltemia that blows in the area make it ideal for water sports, such as windsurfing and kitesurfing.

-The annual cultural festival of Ialyssia that takes place every August.

The area of ​​Afandou, a settlement with typical island architecture and a wonderful beach, is famous for its state-of-the-art golf course that is open all year round. Near the village you will find Kolymbia, the coastal settlement with the famous, tree-planted by the Italians, Eucalyptus street.

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Near the village of Theologos is the famous butterfly valley, a habitat of rare natural beauty with rich vegetation in which from June to September millions of butterflies Panaxia quadripunctaria appear. In the same area there is a small museum of Natural History.

Archangelos is the largest town on the island that has been inhabited since the Mycenaean era. At the foot of the castle around the temple of the Archangel Michael lies the traditional neighborhood with colorful old houses, where the residents, untouched by the rapid tourist development, still keep their local traditions, giving a special character to the area. It is worth seeing the castle built by the Knights of St. John in 1320, the church of the Archangel Michael with the pebbled courtyard, the Upper or New Monastery of Panagia Tsampika with the homonymous beach, the cave of Koumellos and the village of Malona located inside the largest orange grove. Rhodes. In the shadow of visible pine and plane trees you will find the Seven Springs, an area that reveals the unique natural beauty of the Rhodesian hinterland.

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Kamiros was one of the three ancient cities of Rhodes. Its ruins are preserved in a verdant archeological site to this day. Visit in the surrounding area traditional villages such as Soroni (with the homonymous beach) and Salakos, ideal for nature lovers thanks to the rich vegetation and the many springs. From there you can reach Profitis Ilias, the second highest mountain in Rhodes, with the homonymous church at the top. Climbing the mountain slopes you will find traditional villages with springs and very high plane trees.

The highest mountain of Rhodes, the imposing Attavyros with its verdant foothills and rocky peak, dominates the semi-mountainous villages of the area. The climb to the top offers anyone who tries it beyond a refreshing route and a fantastic view of the whole island. Embonas, the “Kefalochori” of the area, is built on vineyards and is famous both for its excellent wine and for its traditional character. Enjoy the sunset in one of the imposing castles of the area: Monolithos, built by the Knights of St. John in the 14th century or the castle of Crete. On the rocky shores of the area you will find wonderful coves, such as Fourni, Glyfada and the beaches of Crete, where you can enjoy the sun and the sea away from the crowds.

Lindos was a rich and powerful ancient city-state, something that is still reflected in its imposing citadel, perched on a very high rock. Arriving in Lindos, one is definitely impressed by the panorama of the village that stretches at the foot of the rock, a traditional settlement with whitewashed houses, mansions, churches and cobbled streets. Following the path through the village we end up in the ancient acropolis, where ancient, Byzantine and knightly monuments in combination with the imposing walls and the wonderful view of the sea create a magical place. Lindos is also famous for its beaches with clear blue waters, which in fact have infrastructure for water sports.

In South Rhodes nature is revealed in all its glory: vast beaches stretch from Kiotari and Gennady to Lachania, Plimmiri and Prasonisi, a favorite place for windsurfing and kite surfing enthusiasts. Here life flows at its own pace, away from the hustle and bustle of the city and the bustling tourist resorts. But also inland gold plains, forests, low hills and valleys form a feast of colors that soothe the mind and soul. Its ancient villages are mainly rural, they still retain their traditional color, the traditional local flavor and the traditional Rhodesian decoration in their homes!

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Information for hiking enthusiasts: Wonderful routes reveal the natural beauty of the island in all its glory: hiking from Filerimos through a magnificent pine forest in the sea (2 hours), hiking in the butterfly valley (3 hours), from the village of Salakos at the top of Profitis Ilias (4 hours), from the castle of Kritinia in the village of Kritinia through a fertile valley (4 hours) or the conquest of the top of Atavyros for the most practiced hikers (6 hours) are just some of the options offered by the beautiful island.

Check out the recommended hotels, airline tickets, car rentals. Also you can see museum tickets, cultural events and many tours & activities in Rhodes