Rhodes Island

Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands, and one of the most tourist-orientated islands in the region. The landscape is fertile with a wide rang of flora and wonderful beaches and charming villages. Most tourists think of Rhodes as just a holiday destination, but the island has a very rich cultural and historic background. Rhodes first inhabited in the Neolithic era, and later in the 700 BC it became part of the Dorian Hexoplois, an amalgamation of three cities Kos , Knidos and Halkarnassos. The island prospered both cultural and economy and was a major influence in the region until the 3 rd century. Rhodes has experienced many internal struggles and wars on its soil from Persians to Romans. In 1309 the Knights of St. John, came to the island and stayed for 213 years when the Ottomans finally defeated them. The Knights left behind the very impressive castle and palace of the Grand Masters. In 1947 after 35 years occupation by the Italians, the island finally became part of Greece .

Rhodes is the largest of the Dodecanese islands, with an area of circa 1400 square kilometres and 78 kilometres long and 35 kilometres at its widest point. Nearly 100,000 residents live on the island. The highest mountain is Mt.Atáviros (1215m); the coastline varies between sandy or pebbly beaches to rocky coves.

The island once covered with forests, these forests have all bit disappeared, due to forest fires, erosion and tree felling. The vegetation consists of thorny bushes, hibiscus, bougainvillea and jasmine. The tourist industry and agriculture account for much of the islands wealth. Rhodes is accessible by boat from Piraeus, by air from Athens and other international airports. Mandraki is a port of entry and exit. Over 1 million tourists visit Rhodes each year, to enjoy the sun and beaches.

Though during the high season, it can be crowded, but you can hire a car and explore the island, you will find many small villages in the mountains, where you can relax, and eat at one of the local tavernas. Historical ruins dot the island and you will be able to find a secluded beach where you can sun bathe and swim.

The island has many interesting places to visit, the ancient cities of Ialaysos and Kamiros, monasteries and small villages where you can experience local hospitality. The main resorts line the east coast, which has some of the best beaches on the island. The west coast has not always been a tourist magnet, but today is developing into a major area for tourists. The south coast is quieter and it is possible to find a place in which you can escape the from the busy tourists areas. The island is also popular for watersports and other activities. Rhodes offers more then sun, sand and sex, take time to explore the island you will find it enriching.

One of the most well-known and impressive of the Greek islands, Rhodes  (Greek: Ρόδος, Ródos [ˈroðos])  is located in the south-eastern corner of the Aegean Sea, opposite the shores of Asia Minor, only 11 km away.

It is one of the most touristed and cosmopolitan islands in the country with a plethora of choices in accommodation, dining and entertainment, activities and attractions. It is a good destination for all tastes and ages. Rhodes has created for itself an identity unique in the Aegean, which separates it from the rest of the islands. Of course, the city that housed one of the seven wonders of the world can’t help but impress its visitors.

History of Rhodes

Rhodes first inhabited in the Neolithic era. About 1500 BC migrants from the island of Crete arrived, and founded the cities of Lindos, Kámiros and Iálisos. The Dorians came to Rhodes in 1100 BC, and further developed the cities on the island.

In the 700 BC, it became part of the Dorian Hexoplois, an amalgamation of three city-states Kos, Knidos and Halkarnassos. At the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC, Rhodes and Athens were allies in the fight against the Persians. Ten years later, Rhodes allied itself this time, with the Persians at the Battle of Salamis. In 408 BC, a new capital, arose on the northern end of the island, the town, was designed by Hippódamos, who had 50 years earlier had designed the port of Piræus.

In 305 BC, Dimitrios 1 st. from Macedonia attacked the city, despite his large army and siege machines; he had to admit defeat one year later. To celebrate the city built what was to become one of the Seven Wonders of the World, a 32-metre high statue (Colossus) of the sun god Helios.

This huge statue stood until an earthquake in 227 BC destroyed the city of Rhodes. Rhodes, recovered after the earthquake, trade and shipping increased and the island became one of the richest in the region. Rhodes allied itself with Rome in their battles to subdue Macedonia and Syria, during this time the cultural life on the island flourished. Schools of philosophy and arts arose, and wealthy roman citizens visited the island. In 170 to 168 BC, Rhodes decided to remain neutral and not take part in Rome’s conflict with Macedonia.

The Romans, were not pleased at Rhodes decision, took revenge. The island of Delos in the Cyclades became free port instead of Rhodes; subsequently the island lost its major source of revenue. The island went into decline and in 42 BC; the Roman Emperor Cassius inflicted further damage when he plundered the island also taking statues and other works of art to Rome. 51 AD, St. Paul visited the island and the conversion to Christianity started.

Rhodes became part of the Ottoman Empire in 395 AD, later the island went through a series of attacks from the Venetians, Goths and Arabs, and in 1240 the Venetians took control of Rhodes.

In the year 1309, the Crusaders conquered the island; this was the start of a new era for Rhodes. The Crusaders built massive fortifications at Lindos on the east coast and Monólithos on the west coast as well as the town of Rhodes. Until 1522, the Crusaders defended the island and the region against attacks.

When, after a six-month siege from Turkish forces under the command of Suleyman the Magnificent, the island was conquered. The island suffered under Turkish rule, they destroyed the Palace of the Grand Master of the Crusaders, converted churches into mosques and heavily taxed the population. Citizens of Rhodes Town could not reside within the walls, workers in the town had to leave before sunset or they would suffer the ultimate punishment, death.

Italy declared war on Turkey in 1912, Rhodes and the Dodecanese islands came under Italian rule. The Italians restored the buildings destroyed by the Turks, but they also banned the practising of the Greek-Orthodox religion and made Italian the official language of the islands. The islanders suffered quietly under the Italian occupation. However, matters were to worsen, in 1943 the Germans took control of the island. Rhodes, like many of the countries occupied by the Third Reich, suffered. Over 2000 of the Jewish population living on Rhodes, were transported to extermination camps in Poland. British forces liberated the island in 1945 and by 1948, after centuries of invasions and foreign rule, the island became part of Greece.

Rhodes Town

Rhodes Town is the capital of the island consists of three eras, the ancient, medieval and modern. The ancient city built in 408 BC all that remains of this period, are the ruins of the temples dedicated to, Zeus, Apollo, and Athena Poliados. In addition, the ruins of a gymnasium, stadium and a theatre remain. The high fortifications of the castle, built by the Knights of St. John, enclosed the medieval city also called the old town. Within these walls, are the Kollakio area that includes the Palace of the Grand Knights and Street of Knights. The Hora or the Turkish quarter is the commercial centre of the town. The Jewish Quarter was the home for Jews since the 1 st century AD until the Nazis during the Second World War transported them to Auschwitz. Nearby is Plateia Evraion Martyron (Square of the Jewish Martyrs), named in memory to all those who suffered.

Palace of the Grand Masters: this palace was in effect a castle within a castle, it was the here that the 19 Grand Masters presided over the Knights of St. John. This magnificent palace built in the 14 th century, has survived earthquakes and sieges, and been blow up in an accidental explosion in 1856. The Italians rebuilt the palace in the 1930s, with the intension that it should be a holiday home for Mussolini. Today it is a museum with many artefacts and mosaics from Kos, brought her by the Italians. Other displays feature items from everyday life in the own, and the history of excavations carried over the years.

Street of the Knights: is lined with the Inns of the Tongues, these inns built in the Gothic style where the residences of the Knights. The inns named Tongues after the seven languages spoken by the Knights.

The Archaeological Museum: housed in the Hospital of the Knights on display the stunning 1 st century BC marble statue of the Aphrodite of Rhodes. Other items on display are the 2 nd century BC head of Helios, the Sun God. Many other artefacts from around the Dodecanese are on display in the museum.

The Byzantine Museum: in the Red Mosquehas on display a wide range of icons and frescoes.

The Decorative Arts Museum: houses a collection of costumes and other items from the Dodecanese.

Hora: or the Turkish quarter, here you will find shops and cafes catering for the tourist. Many churches in the town where converted to mosques during Turkish rule, most of which are in ruins today. The Mosque of Suleyman the Magnificent with its pink dome has been restored has been restored. The Muslim Library opposite the mosque and contains rare Persian and Arabic manuscripts and 15 th century Korans written on parchment.

The Jewish Quarter: once a thriving Jewish area, today it lies in the backwaters of the busy town. The people who live here go about their daily lives unaffected by the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas.

The town has expanded over the years; here you will find hotels, discos, cafes and bars catering for the tourist trade. Mandraki harbour with boats lined up along side is ideal for an evening walk. Many cafes and bars tempt you to enter and stop awhile. The Neo Agora, (the new market) with its souvenir shops and souvlaki restaurants gets very busy during the evenings. The Aquarium is the only major aquarium in Greece with over 40 tanks displaying a wide variety of fish. The Sound and Light show, shown every night except Sundays in the park next to the old town is worth seeing.

The Colossus of Rhodes: on of the seven wonders of the ancient world is supposed to have stood at the entrance of Mandraki harbour. However, some scholars think it stood on the hill overlooking the harbour. This massive statue made of bronze, was 32 meters tall. An earthquake destroyed the statue around the year 227 BC. The islanders would not rebuild the statue, as they thought doing so would bring misfortune to the island.

Beaches on Rhodes

Elli beach lies east of Mandraki harbour is a good sandy beach well visited during season. Akti Miaoúli beach, situated around the north and west side of the town, is more windy, but this keeps the temperature comfortable on very hot days. Zéfyros beach, takes about 30 minutes to walking south from gates of the Old Town. No buses go here, so a good alternative is a taxi, the beach is usually quiet and with some decent tavernas nearby.

Sport on Rhodes

Windsurfing: the best areas are Ixia on the west coast and Vliha Bay near Lindos.
Sport fishing: Kámiros, Lindos and Kalithea are the best areas.
Sailing: yachts are available for charter at the Marina, Mandrake harbour.
Diving: must be under supervision of a recognised diving school.
Tennis: larger hotels have their own courts, reserved for guests only.|
Golf: 18 hole course at Afándou.
Horse riding: stables situated in Faliráki and Lálisos.

Around Rhodes

Monte Smith: this hill south of the town named after Sir Sydney Smith, a British Admiral who in 1802 kept watch from here on Napoleons movements in the eastern Mediterranean. It is the site of an ancient acropolis, little remains today. Nearby is the restored Odeon, in the summer, performances of classical dramas are staged here. The Stadium and the partly restored Temple of Apollo are also nearby. On the top of the hill are the remains of columns from the large Temple dedicated to Zeus and Athena.

Rodini Park : 3 km from the centre of the town, built by the Italians, where one can see peacocks and deer. There is a picnic area near the ruins of a roman aqueduct.

Valley of the Butterflies: from Paradissi, south of the airport it is 8 km to the Valley of the Butterflies. Here among the small waterfalls and streams grow the Ambra tree whose resin attracts thousands of butterflies. If disturbed, they take to the wing and their wing colours form a golden red cloud. Tourists have a very bad habit of disturbing them by clapping or shaking the trees. Tourists should refrain from doing this, as it puts strain on the butterflies causing death. The best time to visit is in July and August.

Kalithéa: lies10 km east of Rhodes town, it was once famous for its thermal springs. Hippócrates recommended taking the waters here; it was also popular with the romans. A small beach here is popular with snorkel swimmers.

Iálisos: this ancient city built in 1500BC, situated on the top of Filérimos Mountain was of strategic importance until Rhodes became the centre of power. Little remains except ruins of a temple dedicated to Athena. Moni Filérimos, built by monks during the Byzantine period, and restored by the Italians, complete with charming gardens. An allé with illustrations of the sufferings of Christ lining the route leads you up to an 18m high cross. From the monastery, you get wonderful views over the area. In 1522, it became the headquarters for Suleyman the Magnificent, during his siege of Rhodes Town.

Kámiros: 34 km southwest of Rhodes lay the ruins of the ancient city of Kámiros, built by the Minoans about 500 BC. The ruins seen today are from a later period, the Hellenistic, about 200 BC. An earthquake destroyed the city in 226 BC; they rebuilt the city, but another earthquake in 142 BC destroyed the city again, this time they abandoned the city. Over the years, sand and vegetation covered the site. Archaeologists uncovered some of the site, and revealed a well-planned city with houses decorated with mosaics, and remains of temples.

Faliráki: this once quiet village, is know a thriving holiday centre, with various establishments catering solely for the tourists. The beach is popular with everybody, with its many activities.

Afándou: known for its golf course, and the locals have taken up the old tradition of weaving, and tempt the tourist with their wares.

Moni Tsambikas: here women crawl on their hands and knees, especially on September 18 th. Childress women make the pilgrimage and pray to the Virgin Mary to help them. Further up the road is the small Tsambikas church, and on the 7 th and 8 th September, Greeks come here to celebrate, a visit it is to be recommended on these dates.

Feraklós: From here, you can see in the distance, the ruins of one of the Crusaders strongest fortifications. The small village of Charáki nearby is ideal for bathing.

Lindos: this picturesque village with is whitewashed houses lying bellow the Acropolis of Lindos, is popular with visitors, thousands come here during the summer months. Though many come for daytrips, there are some hotels in which to stay for longer periods. It can be a strenuous walk to the Acropolis in the heat of the summer; guides with mules will take you to the top for a fee. At the Terrace, there is the relief of a ship carved into the rock. In the temple area, are the ruins of the Crusaders church, they built a fortress here to guard the area. The commander’s residence houses a small museum. The Temple of Athena, built in 342 AD stands near the edge of the cliff, offering magnificent views over the sea. In the town, you can visit the Captains House and Papas Constantinos House; both are good examples of the architectural style of the town. The beaches are good but can be crowded during the high season. To the south of Lindos are some good beaches, at Pefki, one can relax from the hustle and bustle of Lindos. Near the village of Lárdos, a holiday complex with hotels and restaurants built around the bay.

Where to Eat & Drink

Eating: Rhodes has a wide variety of restaurants, tavernas and fast food establishments (local and international) to suit taste and pocket.

To eat and drink in Rhodes is an experience to remember, from high-class restaurants to welcoming tavernas. Greeks are not food snobs but they love their food to be fresh, wholesome and well cooked and without the embellishments often offered in so-called high-class European restaurants. Greek families like to go out and eat together, in some restaurants they go into the kitchen to select their food and like to take their time enjoying their meal. Western influences in cooking, together with the traditional Greek cuisine, have resulted in an extensive variety of eating establishments.

Restaurants: the traditional Greek restaurant (estiatόrion) is one of the most enjoyable places to eat, serving good local food and wines, often in pleasant surroundings. Some traditional restaurants in the cities can be expensive. A cheaper alternative is the mageiriό restaurant, often no menu is presented and the choice is limited, but you will be served good food and wines from the owner’s village or island. Even cheaper than the mageiriό is the koutoύki restaurant, these are normally in student and working class areas. Regional cooking is served in many of the restaurants, from charcoal grilled food such as pork, lamb and fish dishes in the south to tripe dishes served in the north of Greece. Menus in traditional is often short, with a few starters (mezédes) and about eight or nine main dishes, followed by desserts or fruit; these are served with a selection of local or national wines.

Tavernas: the traditional taverna, known by many a tourist, offers snacks to excellent meals and wines. Like restaurants, the variety of dishes served varies from region to region, meat or fish dishes served in a variety of ways. Some tavernas are nearly indistinguishable from restaurants with their rich clientele; others are more homely, whether they are on the beach or in the countryside.

Cafes: cafes known as kafeneia are at the centre of Greek life, they are not just a place to take refreshments, and they are often the social and communication hub of a village. Locals come here, mainly the men to discuss the ways of the world or just for a bit of old fashioned gossip.

Bars: vary from the cosy to the brash tourist bars on the islands. Some bars may have traditional music others are more like discos. Therefore, there is something for everybody.

Ouzeri: primarily serves ouzo together with a plate of snacks and a jug of water, relativity cheap these can be good fun if you do not overdo the drinking of the ouzo.

Fast food: All though the invasion of American style fast (junk) food is to be found in the cities and some of the touristier island, try the local fast food. Souvlaki and gyros are to be recommended, street vendors sell a wide range of snacks, and bakeries sell pies and savoury rolls, whilst those who have a sweet tooth may like to try the zacharoplasteio (shop of the sugar sculptor) who serve a wide range of sugary delights.

Vegetarian food: is not a problem as the variety of fresh vegetables offer the vegetarian a wide range of choices. Vegans may have a bit more of a problem, but as dairy products are little used in Greek cooking its still possible to eat well.

Picnics: buy some wine, bread, cheese and fruit and head for the hills. Probably one of the best ways to enjoy the Greek countryside is with good food and friends or a loved one.

Shopping

Rhodes has a variety of shops, selling everything from leather goods, jewellery to furs, plus the usual array of souvenirs. Kiosks, sell foreign newspapers, mineral water, film and sun lotions

Climate

The climate on the island is typical Mediterranean, with hot dry summers and the rainy from November to February. May is one of the best times to visit Rhodes, comfortable temperatures and less crowded. The summer weather can be very hot, but the “meltémi” winds keep the temperature comfortable, mainly on the west coast. The “sirocco” winds that blow from the south can bring sand from the Sahara in over the island as well as increasing the temperature.

Average Sea Temperature (Celsius)

JanAprMayJuneJulAugSepOct
1416202526252419
Average Daylight Hours
JanAprMayJuneJulAugSepOct
571011121197

Tourist information

Tourist Information Office

National Tourist Organization’ EOT are located on corner of Papagou & Makariou streets. (Phone 22410-23 655)

Tourist Police

Tourist Police headquarters are on the corner of Papagou and Makariou St.. (Phone 22410 27 423)

Public transport

Buses
KTEL: 22410-27706, 22410-20236

Ferries:
Daily ferries from and to Athens and Dodecanese Island

Flights:

Daily flights from and to Athens, Thessaloniki and Crete

Medical Care

Emergency Numbers:
Hospital: Phone:166 / 22410-22 222,
Fire Department:199
Police:100
Tourist Police: 22410-27 423

Credit Cards/Money

All major credit cards accepted, although in villages and the smaller islands cash (Euro) is the best alternative.

Communication

Telephones & Telegrams (OTE)

Telephone: OTE (the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization) OTE offices are open from 08:00 to 14:00. Kiosks and OTE offices sell phonecards that used in public phone booths. The most popular phone cards are Chrono karta, and Web & Smile that also used to access the internet. Mobile Phones coverage is about 90%. The telephone offices are on Amerikis / 25th March Streets

Internet:

The city has several internet cafes where one can go online. Hotels of a higher standard may also internet access for residents

Postal Services

Post head office, Mandraki

Other

Electricity: 220 Volts

Signs denoting post offices are usually bright yellow, as are post-boxes. If you need to send a letter, there are stamp vending machines and post-boxes outside all central post offices.

Useful Info

  • Police: 22410 23849
  • Hospital: 22410 22222
  • Port Authority: 22410 28888
  • Airport: 22410 83200
  • Hotel Union of Rhodes: 22410 74555
  • Offical Rhodes Website: www.rodos.gr
  • Radio Taxi by Region:
  • Rhodes town: 22410 64712, 22410 64756, 22410 64790
  • Afantou: 22410 51777
  • Arhangelos: 22440 24111
  • Gennadi : 22440 43313
  • Ialysos: 22410 92515
  • Kremasti: 22410 94528
  • Lindos: 22440 31466
  • Paradeisi: 22410 81461
  • Faliraki: 22410 85444
  • Buses: KTEL: 22410 24129, RODA: 22410 24129

Frequent bus schedules by KTEL and the local city bus service (RODA) connect the city with most of the villages, hotels, and other areas of particular interest. The KTEL main bus terminal in the city of Rhodes is located at Mandraki.

How To Get There

Connections by sea: from Peiraias, ferry to Rhodes (250 nautical miles, 18 hours). The ships for Rhodes from Peiraias usually depart from gates E1 (Vasilieadi shore) and E2 (Ietioneia shore).

Connections by air: from Athens to Rhodes (50 minutes). Rhodes’ airport is located near Kremasti, 12 km from the capital.

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