As the old cliché goes, if Rhodes could talk, it would certainly have a story to tell. It is one of the larger Greek isles, and it has something special about it, because it has been occupied (and conquered) many times over thousands of years. The island’s first inhabitants were Neolithic, and then came the Bronze age before Homer mentioned some of Rhodes’ power cities in his writing. The Romans and Greeks fought over the place, and so did the Byzantine Empire, the Venetians, and the Ottoman Empire, amongst others.
Here are a few of the sights and sounds you’ll expect to see during your visit.
Rhodes boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year, so the island has a crush of visitors who come for sun, shore and chaise lounge. Some of the more popular beaches resemble tiny cities in themselves, and finding a spare patch of sand can be a challenge. Despite this, the whole environment is an experience in itself – and you almost always are within eyeshot of a particular piece of historic architecture or a sweeping view. What’s not to like?
The island is big enough that you can find just the experience you want. Some areas are more family-friend, others are for the clubbers, and some spots on the fringe of the more populated areas are just for those who want to sit and think.
Given all that history, it is probably no surprise that this island has a lot of castles in varying states of disrepair. Lindos is one of the more popular, probably because of the view and easy access. The castle was built by the Knights of St John in the early 1300s on top of the Byzantine fortification that was one here. Two of the castle’s three original towers are still here.
The ruined Castle of Monolithos is another worthwhile castle excursion; it’s high up on a mountain peak, so you’d be best to drive up to the base and walk the well-marked trail to the top. The castle isn’t as noteworthy as the view which is nothing short of jaw-dropping.
The ruins of Castle Kastellos (Kritinias Castle) is another great stop, perched up above the sea on the western coast of the island. It is just south of Kamiros.
Beyond the resorts and bustling cities, there are wee villages that dot the island. Each has its own particular charms and sights – sometimes nothing more than the architecture and the backdrop surrounding it. I suggest some serendipity and see where you end up – though do bring a map so you can get home safe. Failing that, here are a few suggestions:
Theologos: This village has some bright, colourful architecture that certainly shines when the sun does. Agios Spiridonas, the old church with the white bell tower, dominates the historic town centre, and there’s also a beach popular with windsurfers. Otherwise, life moves slow here. Which is just fine by me.
Laerma: The village of Laerma is a must-see because many of its historic buildings and architecture have been restored. And of course it has a great view of the hills surrounding it, which seems to be a prerequisite for any town build on this island. The local Tharri monastery is quite famous in historical legend; the location is disputed but supposedly it was here where a church stands today built in its honour.
Asklipio: One of the more lively villages, you’ll find a wonderful church here, a castle nearby, a folklore museum
Almost all of these villages also feature the perfect treat to end a day of sightseeing: a taverna. Have some snacks, a glass of wine or beer, and enjoy the view – there almost always seems to be a good one.
Posted : Friday, July 16th, 2010 at 09:33
Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. When not criss-crossing the world to have his next travel adventures, he is spending time hanging out on his own website, Sharing Travel Experiences.