Rhodes island the largest island at the Dodecanese of Greece. It is located near to the big island of Crete. Rhodes, the island of the Knights, the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem who conquered the island.
In the 15th century, B.C Achean colonists established the island. Around 1100 B.C Dorians settled in Rhodes island and the first 3 kingdoms were founded: Lindos, Kamiros, and Ialyssos.
The city of Rhodes was built in the year 408 B.C situated in the same area where today’s capital, of the same name, can be found. In 50 A.D the apostle Paul made Rhodes a significant Christian center (a bay in Lindos bearing his name today) and later it became part of the Byzantine Empire.
In 602 A.D the Persians conquered Rhodes then in 623 A.D it was taken by the Saracens. In 1249 the Genoans conquered this popular land where they remained in rule until 1309 when they sold it to the Knights of St John of whom a strong presence can still be felt. They handed Rhodes island over to the Turks in 1522 and it remained in their hold until 1912 when the Italians made their stand. At the end of World War II, in 1947, Rhodes, along with the other Dodecanese Islands was incorporated into Mother Greece.
In the late 7th, Century A.D Rhodes island was fortified after being directly threatened by the Arabs. A small but strong fortress rose for the first time to the Northwest of the Ancient Great Mandraki Harbour, where Rhodians took refuge during an enemy attack. In time the defenses grew and Rhodes became an impregnable fortified city, acquiring its present form and size in the early 16th Century.
Today’s visitor is called upon to seek the memories soaking through the stone, feel the presence of those who were triumphant in making this THEIR kingdom, and to show all due respect to this hallowed ground.
Geography of Rhodes Island
Rhodes, the largest island of the Dodecanese and the fourth largest in Greece, after Crete, Euboea and Lesbos (Mytilene), lies in the southeastern corner of the Aegean Sea, not far from the southeastern coast of Asia Minor. Its shape is long and narrow – 77 km, at its longest and 37 km, at its widest point. It covers an area of 1,398 sqm. km and the length of its coastline is 220 km. This coastline is not deeply carved; there are large, open bays – that of Kallithea, Afandou, Archangelou, Vlycha, Apolakkia and others but no natural harbors.
The terrain is quite hilly, especially in the western part of the island, which is semi-mountainous (highest peaks: Atabyros, 1,215m., Akromyti, 825 m. and Profitis Elias, 799m.). There are small plains near the coast, and the hillsides are covered with trees and bushes. The abundance of water accounts for the luxuriant vegetation.
In many areas of Rhodes Island, vineyards are cultivated, which produce the fragrant Rhodian wine. Other agricultural products are oil, cereals and citrus fruit, while, in the highlands, dairy products constitute the basis of the economy.
The climate of Rhodes island is gentle ad healthy, with mild winters, relatively cool summers and many tours of sunshine all year round. Administratively, the island constitutes the province of Rhodes of the Prefecture of the Dodecanese, with the town of Rhodes as its capital. There is one ‘deme’, or municipality, and 43 communities. The population of Rhodes island numbers approximately 90,000 inhabitants.
Touring the Island of Rhodes
Our tour of the island begins from the northernmost end, where Rhodes town, the capital of the island, lies. The town, with its many facets, is impressive, full of contrasts and surprises. We will follow some of the most important routes which we lead us to the most interesting sites.
The road network is very good, the town is linked to most of the villages of the interior as well as to the beaches, and there are frequent bus services, and taxis can easily be hired. Even though you ma has chosen not to bring your car on one of the ferries to the island, you will be able to visit all the places of interest of Rhodes Island without any trouble.
New Town of Rhodes Island
Outside the ramparts lies the new town whose appearance is in harmony with the city’s architectural past. Bathing in the bright Rhodian light stand fine neoclassical buildings next to the aesthetic modern constructions which highlight’s the town’s cosmopolitan character giving it an air of romance, elegance, and beauty – all elements of the island’s unique identity.
Rhodes Island Beaches
Rhodes Island is a place where you can find plenty of things to do. You can go swimming, Rhodes has the most beautiful and organised beaches in Greece. Every beach on Rhodes has its own beauty, you can find sandy beaches, beaches all covered by rocks and even there are beaches full of pebbles. All beaches are safe and clean, most of them are awarded by European Organizations, you can ask for Blue Flag awarded beaches and where to find them. And if you are an adventurous person, in almost every beach there are water sports to satisfy your thirst for adventure. You can choose many watersports to do like: Paragliding, Banana Rides, Ringos, Pedal Boats, Canoe, Screamers, Crazy Sofa and many more.
Acropolis of Rhodes Island
On the hill of Saint Stephanos or Monte Smith of Rhodes, to the west of the New Town, stand the Acropolis of Ancient Rhodes. Here, remains of the temples of Athena Polias, of the Pythian Apollo and of Zeus can still be seen. Near the temple of Apollo there is a small restored theater and a stadium dating from the 3rd century BC.
Popular Culture and Traditions of Rhodes Island
The old customs and traditions are still cherished, especially in the inland villages of Rhodes, which are outside the radius of tourist influences. They come alive at every opportunity and find expression in village fetes, weddings, and other festivities. It is true that, as life moves on with its rapid beat, in the cosmopolitan, modern holiday resort that Rhodes has become, many of the customs and traditions have fallen into disuse and are preserved only in the memories of the old folk. However, important efforts are being made by local cultural associations to keep alive the precious elements of the popular culture of Rhodes.
So much natural beauty concentrated in one place could not fail to capture the imagination of its inhabitants and give rise to equally beautiful myths regarding the island’s creation and the course of its history. One of the myths, according to Pindar, says that when Zeus defeated the Giants he decided to divide the earth between the Olympian gods. However, Helios, the sun god, was missing at that moment as he was offloading on his daily journey and so was left without his own piece of earth. Zeus wanting to be just said that he would redivide the earth but Helios the traveller replied that he would own the land that emerged from the sea at sunrise the following morning. As dawn broke the next day, Helios saw the beautiful, verdant island of Rhodes appear from the turquoise water. Enthralled by its beauty he bathed it with his rays. Since then sun-drenched Rhodes has been the island of the Sun.
On the island, Helios and the nymph Rhodos had seven sons, the Heliadae: Ochimus, Cercaphus, Macareus, Actis, Tenages, Triopas and Candalus. Ceraphus, who became king of Rhodes, had three sons Kameiros, lalyssos and Lindos who inherited the island and split into three parts so that Naturall, these myths were mankind using its imagination in an attempt to intepret events. For example, geologically the emergence of Rhodes was due to uplift and subsidence of tectonic plates during the formation of the earth’s surface. Similarly, Helios’s great love of Rhodes cannot be seen as chance, when one considers that the island is bathed by the sun’s ray most days of the year. For this reason the Island the island was called the Bride of Helios and was considered to belong to Aphrodite’s who surfaced from the foaming Sea.
Aquarium of Rhodes
A sample of the marine wealth of the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean can be seen at the recently modernized Rhodes Aquarium which since 1963 has been housed in the Hydrobiological Station of Rhodes. Located at Akra ton Myloni, on the northernmost tip of the island, it is not only an aquarium but also a living museum that contains specimens of the areas endemic marine flora and fauna. The origins of the building date from the Italian occupation; the governor, Mario Lago, ordered the construction of a research station and commissioned his fellow countryman, Armando Bernabiti, to design and construct it. The architect managed to combine elements inspired by local architecture with Art Deco features, giving the building a maritime appearance. So important is the building, being so remarkable an example of ”international Style” architecture, that the Hellenic Ministry of Culture has designated it as a historic monument. Inspired by the marine environment, the main entrance has an impressive visitors’ hall which resembles a sea cave: porous stones and shells decorate the walls whilst on the floor white and black pebbles have been inlaid to create representations of aquatic life. In parallel with the aquarium, the Hydrobiological Station of Rhodes is also a research unit of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research.
South to the traditionally built village of Koskinou, lays Kallithea. One of the most beautiful and famous sites of Rhodes, formerly known for its spa, which dates all the way back to the classical Antiquity. The Kalithea facilities were built by the Italians in 1929, and after a renovation reopened as a museum. The area is overflowed by wonderful gardens and steep rocky creeks that offer diving adventures and unforgettable experiences.
Wooden Bridges and trickling streams set the mood of the seven springs. making it a great escape from the heat of a summer day. Adventure seekers may walk around the footpaths searching out the source of each of the seven springs which their water gushes into a creek that feeds a man made lake. The lake provides a natural habitat to tortoises, crabs and gizani a rare fish species. A unique experience is walking to the lake through the 186m long dark tunnel, constructed back m 1931, with your feet in the running water.
Old monastery of Panagia Tsambika
The old monastery of Panagia Tsambika, a tiny Byzantine church, is built on the top of the hill overlooking the beautiful golden sandy beach of Tsambika, named by the monastery. The hill offers panoramic View of the surrounding area, which makes worth of climbing up 350 steps. The icon of Panagia Tsambika is considered miracle working, particularly for childless women.
Situated on the northern tip of the island and surrounded by hotels, restaurants, shops and a colorful nightlife. With a combination of sandy and pebbly beaches, offering all the amenities needed to enjoy a perfect day in the sun.
famous for it’s springs and unique surroundings, is located on the north part of Rhodes. The beach is a mixture of sand, gravel and pebbles. The water is shallow and ideal for snorkelling.
the beach boasts a 4 km sandy stretch, situated on the NE coast of Rhodes. Services include sun beds, umbrellas, showers and public toilets, as well as beach bars, restaurants, tourist shops and nightclubs.
Located 4 km south of Fal’traki. Very popular for it’s rocky surroundings, crystal Clear waters and gorgeous under
water scenery it is one of the best areas in Rhodes for snorkelling.