Southern Rhodes – Away from the hustle and bustle of the rest at the island,
the villages of southern Rhodes move to their own special rhythms. The traditional village of Asklipios, with its small, white houses and narrow alleys, is built on a hillside in a lush setting. Most of the residents are involved with agriculture but over recent years the village has seen a significant increase in tourist development. On a nearby hilltop are the ruins of the castle of Asklipios, built by the Knights to protect the village from pirate raids. It is best just to admire the site from a distance as the castle is now impossible to reach because of its collapsed walls. Kiotari is a small community close to Asklipios. In ancient times the area was a cultural centre. Today’s few residents are mostly involved with tourism as the area has seen the recent construction of a number at large hotels. Gennadi took its name from a medieval landowner. In very ancient times it was administered by the city-state of Lindos. The setting is wonderful with the beach and azure sea only a short walk away from the village. 10 kilometres south of Gennadi is the village of Lachania. It gets its name from the rich vegetation of the area. Most of the residents are employed on the land. Further south still are the villages of lstrios (at an altitude of 279 metres above sea level) and Profilia, 77 kilometres from the city of Rhodes. Profilia is named after its setting the last gateway to the South. Arnitha lies on the south-west Side Of the island. It is a small dramatic place built on a hillside and surrounded by mountains. The residents busy themselves with farming and the raising of animals. Kattavia village lies on the south-east tip of Rhodes. The area has revealed so many monuments, temple bases and graves, that archaeologists believe the region to have been an important cultural and artistic centre. Kattavia today is a small, pretty village in a pleasant setting. Agriculture provides income for most of the inhabitants.
Nearby cape Prassonisi makes a fascinating trip. It is, in fact, an outcrop of land tied to the rest of the island by a narrow belt of sand some 100 metres long. Depending on the weather, one side of this sandy belt has calm sea and the other has a rough swell ideal for windsurfers and international competitions are held here. But the area is strictly for summer only. ln winter the winds howl under grey skies and water covers the sand, turning Prassonisi into an island.
Mesanagros village, situated on the south-eastern side of the island, was a flourishing community during Byzantine times and numerous churches and monasteries were built in the area. Many of these can still be seen today in various states of repair. On the south-western side of the island is the village of Apolakkia. Its residents work on the land and the area has many beehives. There are numerous small chapels still intact and particularly pleasing are the churches of the Virgin of Skiatheni, and Saint George at Vardas. An unexpected sight is the large dam of Apolakkia, with a volume of 8,000,000 cubic metres. The lake created by the dam provides a wonderful environment for wildlife.
All the villages of southern Rhodes contain traditional dwellings. The communities are largely unspoilt and maintain their local customs. They are very well worth exploring at leisure.