The island of the Knights
Welcome to Rhodes, the capital of the Dodecanese, an island which is ideal not only for those who want to relax but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches.
The ancient city of Rhodes, the construction of which began in 407 BC, was designed according to the city planning system devised by the greatest city planner of antiquity, Hippodamus of Miletus. Rhodes soon developed into one of the most important seafaring and trading centers in the Eastern Mediterranean. When it became a province of the Roman, and later the Byzantine Empire, it initially lost its ancient glory. But in 1309 the Knights of Saint John of Jerusalem conquered Rhodes. They built strong fortifications to protect the island, turning it into an important administrative centre and a thriving multinational medieval city. In 1523 Rhodes was conquered by the Ottoman Turks, and the Greeks had to settle outside the city walls. During the Ottoman occupation, new buildings were erected within the Old Town, mainly mosques and baths. In 1912 Rhodes and the rest of the Dodecanese, were seized by the Italians. The new rulers embellished the city with magnificent buildings, wide roads and squares. The Palace of the Grand Master was rebuilt and the Street of the Knights was reconstructed in order to regain its medieval purity. It was not until 1948 that Rhodes officially became part of Greece. In 1988 the Medieval City of Rhodes was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The cobblestoned Street of the Knights, one of the best preserved medieval streets in Europe, is packed with medieval inns that used to play host to the soldiers of the Order of the Knights. At the end of the Street, in the Museum Square, stands the Hospital of the Knights, which houses the Archaeological Museum. If you decide to take a detour and head off for Arionos Square, don’t forget to stroll around the “Turkish district”, where you will find the Mustafa Pasha Mosque and the 16th century “Yeni Hammam” (Turkish Baths).
Outside the walls of the Old Town lies the “new” city, with its magnificent Venetian, neoclassic and modern buildings. A stroll around Mandráki, the small marina with the Rhodian deer statues at its entrance and the surrounding windmills, is an experience not to be missed. The multicultural character of Rhodes is also evident in this part of the city, since next to the Prefecture stands the Murat Reis Mosque with its elegant minaret. Enjoy the sun and the sea at cosmopolitan Elli beach at the northern tip of Rhodes town, which is lined with modern hotels. Here you will also find the beautifully renovated historic Grande Albergo delle Rose, which today operates as a Casino. A visit to the Aquarium, one of the most important marine research centers in Greece, is a must! In the underground aquarium, reminiscent of an underwater cave, the visitor can see many of the species living in the Aegean.
As you head down to the east coast, the first tempting stop is Kallithéa, a cosmopolitan holiday resort bustling with hotels lining Faliráki beach. In Kallithéa the main attraction is the Roman baths – a unique example of orientalised Art Deco from 1929 – and the long sandy beach of Faliráki. The picturesque small bay at Ladikó (where the film “The Guns of Navarone” was shot) and the scenic “Anthony Quinn” Bay are just some of the beautiful beaches where you can bask! If you are interested in learning more about the local traditions of Rhodes visit Koskinoú, a traditional village where the house facades are painted in bright colors, the lovely courtyards are paved with pebbles and the houses are decorated inside with ceramic plates and hand-woven textiles.
Ialissós is a popular cosmopolitan resort; its beach is a favorite destination for windsurfing, kite surfing and sailing enthusiasts. Basking in the lush green of pine trees and cypresses, on the slopes of Filérimos (meaning “lover of solitude”) Hill stands the Monastery of the Virgin Mary and the ruins of an ancient acropolis. In Byzantine times, there was a fortress on the hill which, in the 13th century, became a monastery dedicated to Holy Mary. It was beautifully restored at a later stage by the Italians and the British. Directly in front of the church there are the ruins of 3rd century temples of Zeus and Athena. Visitors can walk up the “Via Crucis”, which leads to an enormous crucifix. The view from there out over Ialissós Bay is stunning. Illuminated at night, the crucifix is clearly visible even from the nearby island of Symi.
In the verdant area of Afándou you can either bask on beautiful sandy beaches or play golf on a modern 18-hole golf course (close to Afándou beach) that is open all year round and attracts golf enthusiasts from all over the world! The road from the beautiful seaside resort of Kolimbia leads through a forest and along the banks of the River Loutanis to Archipoli, a picturesque rural village. The route is ideal for walking or cycling.
The area of Petaloúdes (meaning Butterflies) includes the villages of Kremastí, Paradísi and Theológos. Kremastí, one of the biggest and liveliest settlements on the island, is famous for its major festival of the Virgin Mary on 15th August, while the beach of Kremastí is perfect for kitesurfing and windsurfing. However, the most fascinating and popular attraction of the region is the Valley of the Butterflies, a habitat of unique value for the reproduction of the Panaxia Quadripunctaria butterfly. Admire an atmosphere of incomparable beauty with lush vegetation and streams as you stroll along cleverly laid paths. Also well worth a visit in the Valley is the Museum of Natural History.
The ancient city-state of Lindos was one of the three major towns of ancient Rhodes thanks to its great naval power. The remains of the acropolis of Lindos, a natural watchtower facing the open sea built on a steep rock 116 meters above sea level, bear eloquent witness to its long standing power and wealth. At the foot of the acropolis lies the traditional village of Lindos with its cubic whitewashed houses, mansions, Byzantine churches and narrow cobbled streets. By following a path through the village or by hiring a donkey from the main square you can climb to the ancient acropolis, which is surrounded by well-preserved walls. You can also enjoy astonishing views of the town and the sea –an experience not to be missed during your visit on the island. At Saint Paul’s Bay you can either relax in the azure sea or have a go at your favorite water sport!
In the island of Rhodes you will have the chance to eat everything you want, from fast food to French and Chinese food, as there is a great variety of restaurants. Of course, you should try the local cuisine of Rhodes, which includes Greek traditional dishes, with certain small differentiations. There is a great variety of dishes that can satisfy every gourmet, those who prefer meat, those who prefer fish and vegetarians. Old town have many traditional and stylish restaurants.
By airplane from the airports of Athens and Thessaloniki. There are also connections to and from other Greek islands such as Kos, Mytilini, Mykonos, Santorini and Crete (Iráklion city).
The port of Rhodes has daily connections to the port of Piraeus. The trip lasts approximately 12 hours with intermediary stops at the islands of Patmos, Leros, Kalymnos and Kos. Rhodes is also connected directly to all the other islands of the Dodecanese and Crete.