Rhodes

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Island of Rhodes - Dodecanese Islands

Rhodes, a beautiful and sunny Greek island with beautiful sandy beaches, lush nature and a very rich past. The visitors of Rhodes will be enchanted by the large number of preserved historical monuments dated back to antiquity. Helios, the sun god, is considered to be the island's protector and several important monuments were dedicated to him in the antiquity.

Geography of the island of Rhodes

Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands, located on the eastern edge of the Aegean Sea. The name Dodekanesos, or "twelve islands", originally referred to the fact that there are twelve islands. In fact, there are almost 100 of these islands, of which 19 are inhabited. In addition, Rhodes is also the fourth largest Greek island - surpassed only by Crete, Euboea and Lesbos. Rhodes measures approximately 78 km in length and is no more than 40 km wide. The island is hence not very big and you can certainly explore it more thoroughly during your holiday.

Monolithos Castle

Rhodes is a hilly island, where the highest mountains and hills are rising in the inland and gradually decreasing in height towards the coast. The island's highest mountain is called Ataviros (Attavyros) and lies closer to the west coast of the island, roughly in the middle of its length. It peaks at 1216 m. In the middle layer of the mountains there are dense pine forests, while the top of the mountain is already a bare rock with a magnificent view in all directions. The second highest peak of the island is Profitis Illias with a height of 780 m. Another well-known hill is Filerimos, where an important archaeological site and a 18 metre high cross can be found on its summit.

On the other hand, the coastal plains and valleys belong to the most fertile areas of the island and they also are the most agriculturally exploited. Olive trees and grapevines are clearly the typical agricultural crops of Rhodes, while various citrus fruits are also widely cultivated here and aubergines, tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes thrive here too.

Two different seas wash the shores of Rhodes - the eastern shore is washed by the calmer Mediterranean Sea and the western shore by the wilder Aegean Sea. These two seas meet in a symbolic way at the northern and southern tip of the island.

Island of SymiRhodes is located very close to the coast of Asia Minor. The capital city of Rhodes and the Turkish coast are separated only by a less than 20 km wide strait and ferries regularly depart from Rhodes to the Turkish port of Marmaris. Around the coast of Rhodes, several islands protrude from the sea, of which the most famous often are a destination of tourist trips, especially the island of Symi, the islet of Chalki and the popular island of Kos lies within an immediate proximity.

Climate and nature of Rhodes

The island of Rhodes has a typical Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. From April to September it hardly rains at all, there is an average of only 7 rainy days. Most rainfalls then occur between December and February, but even during this period the temperatures do not drop below freezing point and the snow is very rare here. According to statistics, Rhodes has a total of 55 rainy days throughout the year (with an average annual rainfall of 687 mm) and is one of the sunniest areas in Europe.

Rhodes also enjoys regular winds, which help keep the hot summer months bearable as they cool the air over the island, while they warm up the local weather in winter. These winds blow from the west, making the west coast of Rhodes windier and also slightly cooler than the east coast of the island, which is calmer and warmer. During the summer months, the average maximum daily temperature on the west coast of the island is between about 28 and 32¬ļC, while on the east coast it rises to 35¬ļC and occasionally to 40¬ļC.

The sunniest Greek island is said to owe its name to the sun god Helios, who in mythical times lifted a small rocky island out of the sea and shone his warm rays on it. The island became green and covered with a flood of multicoloured flowers and plants. The beautiful nature here is still admired by tourists today. They also enjoy the 260 days of sunshine a year. The name Rhodes comes from the word "ródos", meaning "rose". However, the emblem has a flower more like a hibiscus. Therefore, the island is often nicknamed the "rose" or "hibiscus" island. The herbs lavender, thyme and oregano are the main sources of the intoxicating scent of the local meadows.

Nature RhodesOn the island of Rhodes, it is common for tourists to encounter the ubiquitous local goats, as well as flocks of sheep grazing in the surrounding pastures. Donkeys are also often seen here, which are not only farm animals used by the local farmers, but sometimes they are also an interesting tourist attraction, for example, they take visitors up to the Acropolis of Lindos. Due to the geography and climate, Rhodes is rich in various species of lizards, geckos and small insects. Rhodes' pearl of the animal world is the local lizard, the "Rhodes dragon".

The most popular resorts in Rhodes and tips for interesting trips

The island of Rhodes is not only the largest of the Greek islands of the Dodecanese group, but also the most populous Dodecanese island. The total population of the island is about 120 thousand inhabitants, with about 50 thousand of them living permanently in its capital city of Rhodes. The most built-up part of Rhodes is the northern and north-eastern part, where the capital city and other most popular tourist resorts of the island are located. However, it is also possible to find places almost untouched by tourism. Generally, the southern half and the inland are among the quieter parts of the island, where mainly smaller villages and agricultural areas are located.

The most popular Rhodian resorts are mainly the capital city of Rhodes, Faliraki, Kolymbia or Lindos (east coast of the island) and Ixia or Ialysos (west coast), which provide the tourists with all the facilities in the form of hotels, restaurants, entertainment, social life and beautiful beaches.

Capital city of Rhodes

Palace of the Grand Masters

The capital of Rhodes is a huge tourist attraction and many visitors return here repeatedly. In fact, the island's capital has so much to offer that it's almost impossible to manage it all in one visit. On the one hand, Rhodes is an important historical city with plenty of wonderful monuments and a strong legacy of its long and colourful past. On the other hand, it is a very busy tourist resort, the "beating heart of the island", where the tourists can go for entertainment, shopping and nightlife.

The so-called Old Town of Rhodes, where many of the local historical buildings and other monuments of the capital city are concentrated, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historical part of the city is still protected by the medieval massive walls. Inside the Old Town, the famous Palace of the Grand Masters, which is dated back to the early 14th century and which served as the residence of the supreme knight of the Order of St. John (Johanniter Knights) is located. At the same time, we also can see the reconstructed ancient Street of the Knights. And above the city, the Acropolis of Rhodes with the remains of magnificent monuments from the time of ancient Greece is towering.

The so-called New Town of Rhodes, on the other hand, is the modern face of the capital city, with hotels, restaurants, bars and casinos. Except this, there is also the National Theatre, museums, also for example the popular Rhodes Marine Aquarium and the old port of Mandraki, where the legendary Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of Ancient Greece, is said to have once stood.

East coast - Faliraki, Kolymbia, Lindos

One of the most popular tourist resorts on the east coast of the island is Faliraki, a lively seaside resort with beautiful hotels, many tavernas, cafes and various shops. The resort also includes the long sandy beach of Faliraki and other attractions such as the large and well-equipped Faliraki Water Park or the Faliraki Marine Aquarium, which is smaller, but very charming and educational.

To the south of Faliraki lies another popular seaside resort, Kolymbia, which also has very good tourist facilities, but is a little quieter compared to the larger resort of Faliraki.

LindosRoughly in the middle of the eastern coast of Rhodes, on a small peninsula jutting out into the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, lies the beautiful historic town of Lindos, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The village of Lindos is very special because it combines several historical periods - the ancient Acropolis with the temple of the goddess Athena, the Byzantine church, the fortifications from the time of the Johanniter Knights and the original fishing village of Lindos in the suburbs.

West Coast - Ixia, Ialysos

The west coast of Rhodes is less touristic than the east, which is to some extent due to the nature of the coastline, as the beaches on the west side of the island are mostly pebbly to rocky and the Aegean Sea is quite rough and brings bigger waves. The west coast is therefore more likely to be chosen by water sportsmen and travel enthusiasts.

IxiaOn the north-west coast of Rhodes, there are two beautiful and very popular tourist resorts, Ixia and Ialysos. Ixia is considered to be one of the most luxurious resorts on Rhodes, with luxurious hotel complexes, many tavernas, restaurants, shops and bars. The local Ixia Beach is pebbly to rocky, equipped with sun loungers and umbrellas and ideal for a variety of sporting activities. The neighbouring tourist resort of Ialysos is very similar in type, with large hotel complexes as well as smaller family villas and apartments providing accommodation for tourists. The resort is also known for its lively nightlife. The adjacent pebble beach of Ialysos is organized and is especially enjoyed by water sports enthusiasts.

Other popular Rhodes resorts

HarakiTo the very popular resorts also belong Afandou, Gennadi, Haraki, Kalithea, Lachania, Plimmiri and Stegna, which are smaller and quieter than the aforementioned resorts, but still have very good tourist facilities and where the visitors are well taken care of.

Rhodes Natural Attractions - Tips for Trips

The island of Rhodes is especially rich in historical monuments, of which there is a large number and which cover the history of the island from antiquity to the present day. Visits to the monuments of Rhodes dominate the list of interesting Rhodes excursions, but also tours to the natural monuments and reserves are very popular, providing a pleasant refuge from the relentless Greek sun. From the island's natural attractions, we would recommend visiting the Valley of the Butterflies, the Seven Springs Park or the beautiful Rodini Nature Park.

The Valley of the Butterflies (Petaloudes) is a long, green valley stretching into the inland of Rhodes, where flocks of a special species of butterfly, the Jersey tiger (Euplagia quadripunctaria), arrive each year to wrap around rocks and tree trunks. At the top end of the trail, there is the picturesque church of Moní Panagías Kalópetras.

Seven Springs

The Seven Springs Nature Park (Eptá Pigés) got its name from the seven springs that arise in the area and flow into the Loutanis River. The river meanders through the trees in various ways, creating small pools and a particularly pretty little waterfall.

The Rhodini Park is a nice natural park located directly in the capital city of Rhodes. The park stretches along the local creek and creates an ideal environment for the peacocks, that live here freely. A short walk takes you to the tomb of the Ptolemies, dated back to the Hellenistic period.

The most famous beaches of Rhodes

Beautiful beaches can be found practically along the entire coastline of Rhodes, which measures almost 250 km. And these beaches are also very diverse in type, the visitors to the island can choose between sandy, pebbly and rocky beaches, between organised beaches with tourist facilities and beaches that are completely natural or even isolated.

The beaches of Rhodes are bathed by a clean and clear sea, or rather two seas, as the Mediterranean Sea, which is mostly calm, spreads out to the east of the island and the wilder Aegean Sea bathes the western shore. The nature of these seas then largely influences the shape of the beaches here. On the eastern side of the island there are sandy and pebble-sand beaches, that are calm and suitable for swimming and relaxation - the best rated are Kalithea, Faliraki, Tsambika or Ladikou. The windsurfers and other water sports enthusiasts, on the other hand, head for the beaches on the west coast, where Prasonisi, Ixia and Theologos are very popular.

The best months for swimming on Rhodes are from June to October, with the highest sea temperatures in August (around 25¬ļC).

East coast - Kalithea, Faliraki, Ladikou, Tsambika

In the northeastern part of Rhodes lies the Kalithea Beach, a small sandy beach with a gentle entrance to the sea, equipped with sunbeds and umbrellas. The beach is very popular among families with children, but it is also a popular destination for snorkelers. The beach is located in the eponymous bay of Kalithea, which is mostly rocky, with crystal clear sea and interesting underwater life. The famous Kalithea thermal baths, that have recently been renovated, used to be here.

Faliraki beach

One of the most famous beaches on Rhodes is the 5 km long sandy beach of Faliraki. The beach has good tourist facilities, a large number of tavernas, beach service and an interesting range of water sports. The beach is adjacent to the eponymous resort of Faliraki, which is one of the most visited places in Rhodes.

To the south of Faliraki, in a beautiful bay, the smaller beach of Ladikou is lying, which is covered with fine golden sand and washed by beautifully clear sea. The beach is organized and interesting because the sunbeds and umbrellas are also scattered on the surrounding rocks. The cleanliness of Ladikou Beach is regularly awarded by the EU Blue Flag.

The group of picturesque sandy beaches of Rhodes is complemented by Tsambika Beach, which has perhaps the finest sand of all. The gently sloping entrance to the sea is also covered with sand and the visitors have sun loungers and parasols as well as a selection of local tavernas and bars available here. However, the beach can be crowded in the peak summer season.

West coast - Ixia, Theologos, Prasonisi

In the northwestern part of Rhodes, just below the capital city, the spacious pebble beach of Ixia stretches for several kilometres. Ixia Beach provides the tourists comfortable facilities in the form of sunbeds and umbrellas, beach bars or water sports. Beside the visitors to the adjacent resort of Ixia, windsurfers in particular can be seen here, taking advantage of the wilder and larger sea.

A popular spot among windsurfers and kitesurfers, is for example also the sand and pebble beach of Theologos, which is organised, but already considerably emptier than the beaches close to the capital city of Rhodes. There is also a surf school on the beach.

Prasonisi beach

Prasonisi Beach is located at the southern tip of Rhodes and its uniqueness lies in the fact that it consists of two sandy coves which converge on a rocky islet. In addition, each side of this sandy strip is washed by a different sea, as the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea meet at the southern tip of the island.

The adjacent islet of Prasonisi (or Prassonissi) has the same name as the beach, what translated means "green island", and although it may not seem like it in the peak summer season, in spring, this islet is truly beautiful green. Prasonisi is also interesting because, depending on the season and the sea level, it is either an island or a peninsula.

History of Rhodes and the most important historical monuments

The history of the island of Rhodes dates back to the ancient times of Greek mythology, when Zeus divided the world among the gods. The sun god Helios lifted a piece of land out of the azure sea, flooded it with his eternal light and made it the most beautiful island. Helios named the island after the nymph Rhoda (daughter of the goddess Aphrodite), whom he loved.

During the ancient period, Rhodes was inhabited and to a greater or lesser extent influenced by many Eastern Mediterranean civilisations, including the Minoans of Crete (1700-1600 BC), the Phoenicians, the Achaeans and the Dorians. The Dorians built under the leadership of Tlepolemus three strong city states - Kamiros, Lindos and Ialysos - between 1200 and 1100 BC. In 408 BC, these three ancient city-states of the island merged and concentrated their power in a new settlement and a new city-state was founded - Rhodes. The city of Rhodes has been the capital city of the island of the same name since its foundation until the present day.

According to the legend, the island of Rhodes is also said to have been home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, a huge bronze statue known as the Colossus of Rhodes. The Colossus of Rhodes was created under the supervision of Chares of Lindos and upon completion, the statue reached a height of 31 metres. Unfortunately, a devastating earthquake in 226 BC had disastrous consequences for the statue, which collapsed. There are still debates being conducted about where Colossus stood, but most often, it is put in connection with the capital city of Rhodes and its old harbour.

During this period, Rhodes became an important maritime power and fields such as art and literature flourished. The activity of the Rhodians in maritime trade and establishing of colonies was unprecedented for that time. The swift Rhodesian ships sailed all over the Mediterranean Sea and brought home wealth and glory. In the 3rd century BC, Rhodes was one of the most important centres of learning and famous Roman citizens such as Cicero, Julius Caesar, Pompey and others studied rhetoric and philosophy at the famous Rhodian school.

Agios Pavlos Beach (Lindos - Saint Paul Bay)

The year 50 AD is considered to be the beginning of Christianity on the island of Rhodes. Paul The Apostle landed near the town of Lindos, in the bay that still bears his name (St. Paul's Bay), and brought Christianity with him. The island of Rhodes developed into an important Christian centre and later Rhodes became a part of the Byzantine Empire.

Between the 6th and 7th century, however, several earthquakes struck the island, and the already weakened country was dealt further blows by various invaders. The Arabs appeared in the Mediterranean Sea and eventually occupied the island of Rhodes for several decades. The capital city of Rhodes was fortified with new walls and divided into two parts, one for military and political power and the other for the common people. Unfortunately, the Arabs mainly ravaged the island, what was especially evident in the 9th century under the leadership of Haroun ar-Rashid.

In the 13th century, the knights of the Order of Saint John, for whom the name Johanniter was adopted, took control of the island. The medieval period and the rule of the Knights of Rhodes was marked by fortification and modernisation. Also, existing fortifications were strengthened as well as built new ones, just like new churches, hospitals and offices. The capital city of Rhodes acquired massive fortifications in the form of double walls with several gates, where an important monument from this period is the Palace of the Grand Masters, once the seat of the highest of the Johanniter Order. New hospitals and churches were also built in the capital city.

Acropolis of Lindos

The Johannites also built, for example, the castle on the Acropolis of Lindos or the monastery on Mount Filerimos.

Johanniter Knights ruled the island of Rhodes until 1552, when, after several months of siege by the Turkish army, the last Grand Master of the Johanniter Order, Villiers de l`Isle Adam, was forced to hand over power to the Turkish Sultan Suleiman, nicknamed the Magnificent. The island of Rhodes became part of the Ottoman Empire.

Under Turkish rule, however, the island's commercial and cultural influence declined, several earthquakes struck the area and Rhodes disappeared from the international scene. The Turks showed little interest in the island's architecture and culture, occasionaly, a temple was rebuilt into a minaret and for example the Turkish baths grew in the capital city. In general, however, Rhodian towns were slowly depopulating. During the Turkish occupation, the island of Rhodes was ruled by Kapudan Pasha. However, only Turks and Jews were allowed to stay in the Old Town of Rhodes, the others had to move outside the town, and thus the New Town of Rhodes was established. The Turks ruled the island of Rhodes for almost 400 years, until 1912.

In 1912, during the Turkish-Italian War, Rhodes and the other Dodecanese islands passed into Italian hands. In stark contrast to the previous period of the Turkish rule, the Italians contributed to significant development of Rhodes. In particular, they devoted much effort to the restoration of the Johannite monuments, whereas the Palace of Grand Masters in particular underwent a major transformation, from which all Ottoman alterations were removed and also the seaside thermal baths of Kalithea were extensively reconstructed. However, the Italians also introduced new architectural features such as the construction of an efficient irrigation system, modern sewage systems and the introduction of electricity to more remote regions.

After the end of the Second World War, the island was administered by the British administration until 1948, when Rhodes and the other Dodecanese islands became part of the united Greece. Since then, Greece has followed the path of Western democracies and has begun to join alliance groups. In 1952, it joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and is also a founding member of the European Union (joining the European Communities in 1981). Changes also occurred in the internal political structure of Rhodes, when, following democratic elections and an attached referendum in 1974, the island's monarchy was abolished and parliamentary democracy was introduced. The second half of the 20th century was mainly marked by the launch and rapid development of tourism and travel.

Rhodes - culture and tradition

Food

The Rhodian people, like other Greeks, take great pride in tradition and family. More than 90% of the Greek population adheres to the Orthodox Church. The family is the basis of everything in Greece and festivals and traditions have a firm place in the life of every family and village. Inherent in the celebrations and festivals are the delicious Rhodian dishes, which are prepared using traditional ingredients such as olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, sheep and goat cheese, lamb, goat and chicken meat and, above all, seasonal vegetables and various herbs.

The inhabitants of Rhodes live mainly from tourism, which has been booming since the 1970s. During the tourist season, the locals work practically non-stop because they have to provide themselves financially for the whole year. Only about 20 % of their income comes from other sources, such as agriculture. Rhodes is one of the most popular Greek islands for tourism, along with the other beautiful Greek islands of Crete, Santorini, Zakynthos, Kos and Corfu, among others.

Map of Rhodes

The most interesting and famous places on the island of Rhodes - resorts, beaches, sights and trips- are clearly marked on the Rhodes map.